It’s hard to believe this school year is coming to a close. It seems so anti-climactic on one hand, and yet we’re all so exhausted on the other. So before we jump into the meat of the blog, let me say this:
Finish strong. Get rest. Invest in yourself.
And then be ready! Because (hopefully) your classroom will be filled with sweet babies or smelly teenagers in just a matter of few months – some of them needing you more than ever. There will definitely be new waters to navigate as you work to find and fill the gaps both academically and social and emotionally that have formed or grown deeper. And you will, because you are awesome, but we are going to look at some ways that you can start preparing yourself and your students for this time…RIGHT NOW!
First, as we know, relationships are key, and the quicker you can form a relationship, the quicker you can move into learning. With the virtual world as it is right now, we have the opportunity to reach more people faster than we ever have! So why wait until the school year to meet your students? I know you won’t know who is in your class, but more than likely, the grade below the grade you teach is meeting virtually. Could you jump on and meet the students from the grade level below now? For example, if you teach 4th grade, find out when the 3rd grade classes meet and get on, say “hello” and find out something interesting about each student! Tell them a joke! Give them an idea of something to try or explore this summer. Tell them your favorite book! Start getting to know them now!
Second, start getting to know the families. Again, teachers are sending mass emails out regularly. Ask them to introduce you through email! Create a zoom link and invite the parents of the grade below to get on and say “hi!”. Right now is the time when parents and students are used to using a virtual platform to go the extra mile (with minimal effort on your part) and show you care and you are excited for whomever may be in your class!
Third, be a learner. Here are the main things I would intentionally immerse myself in this summer:
- Your content! And the last 6 weeks of the grade below. If you don’t know your content inside and out, now is the time to learn it! You cannot guide your kids and fill in their gaps quickly if you are only vaguely familiar with the content. You have time right now…DIG IN!
- Your students:
- If your campus has English Learners, dive in to strategies and accommodations for the different language proficiencies for English Learners, and start planning how to incorporate these immediately into your Tier 1 (first teach) plans. (Again, you need to be extremely competent in your content before you can differentiate and accommodate well).
- If your campus has students of poverty, learn how poverty affects the brain and learning, and empathize with what their current situation may be. Then design a classroom and prepare your mindset to love, build alliances, set structure that is needed in order to move into learning.
- Instruction and alignment – take some time to look back at your past lessons and check the alignment between the tasks and the learning. Did the tasks that you asked students to do lead to the learning needed? Was there clear learning done? Can you adjust. We will NOT have time to do unnecessary work. Learning will need to take place EVERY DAY in order to catch students up. You will need to make sure that each day is designed with a clear goal in mind. Use this time to set that up. Don’t wait until you’re running 100 miles per hour when school starts again. Now is the time to get prepared!
On Thursday, 5/14, we are going to dive into this a little deeper on a Facebook Live on our page, Pressing Onward, at 1:00 CST. We are here to be a support system for you during this time, and any time, as you work to meet the needs of your students. See you there!