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10 Tips for Teaching in the Covid Pandemic

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Whether you are in person, virtual, or a combination of both we are in a state of crisis in education. Teachers are stressed, working harder and longer than ever and are expected to perform like normal under near impossible restrictions. I HEAR YOU, I SEE YOU, I FEEL YOU!

My school is in person full time and we have virtual students signing into the classroom for live lessons. This is a recipe for disaster! Teaching students live and online at the same time changes the management and climate of the classroom. We are scheduled to the minute, loosing teaching time to start/stop zooms and as teachers we are unable to move about the room because of also being on camera. Proximity management is non existent. Moving students to me creates attempts to get on camera with the friends at home. Moving to students breaks the connection with the students at home. WHAT ARE WE TO DO?

In Kindergarten with no carpet or group space children are spread across the room at desks just as far apart as we can get them. The entire room is taken up by desks. There are no defined center areas or play areas, no library or block zone. Kindergarten looks like high school and for me it is not working. Cooperative learning has taken a back seat to individual chromebooks at each desk. Baskets of toys and supplies sit in cubbies for waiting time and play time. Everything we have been told is counterintuitive to how we know young children learn. I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT COVID CRISIS TEACHING! (And yes, almost a year into Covid I still consider this crisis teaching. It is not normal, goes against everything we as teachers know and still feels like survival of the fittest one day at a time.)

I know I need to take some of my own advice here! This year is hard on teachers, students, parents, administrators and those making decisions on our behalf. No one is getting off easy in this scenario. Hold onto hope that classrooms will go back to normal, hopefully sooner than later!

For yourself:

1. Let go of the little things: This is not the year to harp on perfection. Give grace when needed and give yourself some grace to not be perfect! Last week I took my class outside for snack and allowed them a few extra minutes to play. Meanwhile one of my students was supposed to go to our TAG program. Normally I would be all over my schedule and would not have missed this but you know what it all ended up o.k. I messaged the parent and TAG teacher with my mistake, apologized to the student and then allowed myself to LET IT GO! I would usually harp on a mistake like that for weeks but this year I just can't physically or emotionally take one more negative thing on my plate.

2. Be flexible: This year has a lot of unknowns and looks completely different than past years. Put on a mindset of flexibility to help with the stress and frustration that often comes with change. This past week I decided to watch a science experiment instead of performing it. There was no way to prep and allow hands on experience with the current restrictions. I didn't like it but it was necessary for my stress and to give my students the best experience with the experiment I possibly could.

3. Take time for yourself: Take 5 minutes alone before class starts to pray, meditate, read something encouraging or whatever you use to center yourself. Put a poster with an encouraging or funny quote to lighten your mood. Doing this several times a day has truly helped my struggle and put me back on a good path when I get discouraged.

4. Give up on all the extras: Make classroom life as minimalistic and easy for you as possible. Put those big overwhelming lessons on pause for next year and get through each days lessons with simplicity. If you aren't required to change your boards then don't, store items you don't use often so you are not cleaning extras constantly, make an area where items you can't clean can live for 72 hours (I use a cabinet). Do whatever lightens your daily load!

5. Go simple: You can still effectively teach your class with less fluff and novelty. What you may have energy for in other years is being eaten up by all of the extra restrictions. The 2 best thing I have implemented are and dry erase pockets. Uploading worksheets to Seesaw allows for you to see each child's work on the computer and grade/rework. Putting papers in dry erase pockets and grading as they finish keeps the papers I have to handle and grade to a minimum.

For your students: (Remember this is hard on them too!)

1. Give time: Whenever possible give the students a few minutes to talk and play. Put on a brain break, watch a short video on the subject you are about to teach, take virtual field trips etc. (I just heard the Smithsonian is opening up all of their virtual resources for FREE!)

2. Go outside: Building in 5-10 minutes to just go run when the weather cooperates can mean the difference between a successful next lesson and a disaster!

3. Extra incentives: Make it shorter or easier to earn the special things. In my class we vote on a class reward for say pajama day, bring your favorite stuffy day or silly hat day. In normal years I would limit these to Fridays once a month or once a quarter. This year I am making sure they earn their special days every 2 weeks. We are not repeating any so nothing will loose its fun. The class really enjoys these days and everything is so simple. Sometimes on these days I bring in a treat but I never promise them in case I don't have the time or energy.

4. Check-ins: Build in a few minutes for each student to come talk to you about whatever they want once a week. Take a minute to ask them how things are going, how they are feeling and what is making them excited these days. It should be a fun time for them to have your full attention. Less than 5 minutes that builds a great connection and lets them know you care about them. This does my heart a lot of good too!

5. Structure/Schedule: Keep your classroom as predictable as possible. Do your best to keep your expectations steady so the children can trust you and know what to expect. Warn them about schedule changes and give information ahead of time for special events.

Have hope, give grace and allow yourself and your students to get through the rest of this the very best you can! I would love to hear any tips you are using to help this year!

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