Friday, May 01, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching and Learning: May 1


Over the past several weeks, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection trying to get this online teaching right.  I keep meaning to get my thoughts on paper but then get caught up in the day-to-day work of teaching in this pandemic era.  I know if I can catch my breath, there is a lot to learn and reflect on during this time. So, I decided that every day in May, I will share my thoughts on Teaching and Learning.  This is Day 1.

Today I am feeling thankful. Thankful for the community of educators who are working so hard to make these months right for our students and to support each other.  I have always relied on thinking with others and I've always believed strongly that none of us can do this work alone. I noticed right off--after saying goodbye to my students not knowing when we'd be back in our classroom--how much I relied on colleagues.  When I found myself planning and teaching alone in my house, I missed thinking with others almost immediately.  I realized how often a 2 minute conversation in the hallway helped me make sense of something and helped me know what to do next in the classroom. I realized quickly that I would need to figure out how to make collaboration happen during this time when all of every educator I knew was busy just trying to keep up and figure this out.  I have relied on so many people to figure out how to do this online teaching and to keep up my energy and hopefulness during these days stuck at home.

I am in awe of all of the sharing and support we are giving to each other and I am so thankful for it. It is truly amazing what we have accomplished together.

I am thankful for Antero Garcia, Detra Price-Dennis and the entire NCTE staff for hosting Member Gatherings each week. When I've been able to attend these gatherings, they have been nourishing and inspiring.

I am thankful for NCTE Ambassadors, Christina Nosek (@ChristinaNosek) and Michelle Rankins (@MichelleRankins), for hosting an NCTE Social Hour that was an hour of self-care that was truly needed.

I am thankful for my Zoom Book Club. After weeks of not being able to read (even though I had plenty of time), I have gotten my reading life back:-)

I am thankful to Mary Lee for her month of poetry. Each one of Mary Lee's poems has helped me make sense of these days and all I have been feeling.  Especially this one.

I am thankful for the authors who have shared lessons, read aloud and been so generous with their time.   And I'm thankful for all of the publishers who have revised policies so that teachers can share books with kids online. And a big thank you to Kate Messner for curating all of this for us, so that we could find everything we need in one place.

I am thankful for Julie Johnson, Mary Lee, Ann Marie Corgill (@acorgill)  and Clare Landrigan who spent more time than I think they probably wanted to helping me think through choice and agency in these early days of distance learning.  Having colleagues who helped me figure out how to stay grounded in the things that are most important--how can we do this work without that?

Thank goodness for group texts --I can't imagine doing this work without being able to text my 5th grade team and local colleagues to get ideas on resources, think through a lesson, figure out a tech tool, etc.

And thank you to the all of the teachers who are writing and sharing their journeys so that we can do better-- Kristin Ziemke and Katie Muhtaris, Stella Villalba, Aeriale JohnsonBernNadette Best-GreenKelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle.

I am so thankful to have rediscovered our National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. If you have not watched and rewatched "The Miracle of Morning", you must. I have watched it several times over these last couple of weeks.

And I am so thankful for this new gift from Katharine Hsu--LemmeTryThat--reminding me about balance and to make time for joy and hobbies and fun. Her weekly newsletters and social media post are fabulous.

As I said early in this post, I noticed during those first few days at home--after we said goodbye to our students not knowing if we'd be back to school--that I have never taught alone. That it is the thinking together that helps us do the best job we can for our students. I worried so much about how that would happen during those first few days planning alone at my kitchen table. But I shouldn't have worried. Our educator community is one I've always been proud and grateful to be part of. I can say that now more than ever.

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