I Mean…We Literally Just Had a Blizzard in Texas (and you want me to teach what?)

As if you weren’t already stressed and overwhelmed enough, we just had a week of weather (in Texas and Oklahoma, and I know across the country) that left many people without water, power, and food. This morning was trash pick up day in my neighborhood, and the streets were littered with sheetrock, flooring, ruined appliances, and mounds of reminders of the past week. What the heck is happening here?

Enter Monday, February 22, in North Texas. Sunny, 60 degrees, not a cloud in sight. Pretty par for the course in Texas. While there are many schools around here still out because of the damage to the buildings, my kid is back in school like nothing happened.

But something did happen. For many students, they spent the better half of last week trying to survive – literally. Scared, in the dark, cold, hungry – this may take a little while to process.

Before you jump back into your content, I want to encourage you to help your students process. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Give a writing prompt with sentence starters: Last week, I mainly felt _____ because ______. One thing I learned was that ______. One thing I hope never happens again is ____. One thing I am thankful for now that I hadn’t thought of before is ____.
  2. Keeping in mind that the students had different experiences, give them time to process in a small group or with a partner.
  3. Give them time to get energy out – recess, brain breaks, stretch times – kids are still recovering from having to be cooped up for a week.

When you are ready to jump back into content, here are a few things to remember:

  1. Relevancy is everything! As students are coming back from yet another “survival” time, they need to know why they are learning the content.
  2. Kids need to be cognitively engaged. They are distracted, and rightfully so. Don’t blame them for this, but plan instruction that is hands on, has them thinking, and has them interacting with each other.
  3. Set goals. We don’t want to make this year about what they don’t have or haven’t learned – make it about what they have learned, and what they will still learn! Make goals, and celebrate progress, even if its not where they “normally” would be.

And one last thing (this week’s blog is short…because let’s be honest…we don’t have time for much more right now), keep an eye out for students who are not acting like they “normally” would. In Texas, people died in their homes and car wrecks. Families were without power for days in single digit weather. Our homes and our bodies are not made for that weather. You may have students who faced trauma or are taking a little longer to process last week.

Once again, when life falls apart, you are the stable and consistency force in their lives. Thank you for what you do.

For more information about Pressing Onward, and how we can partner with your school or district, go to http://www.pressing-onward.org.

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