Friday was the longest day that I can remember as an educator. Longer for my classroom colleagues, I am sure. Though our district publicly states that we’ve been preparing for weeks to send kids home to remote learning, staff truly had no more than 24 hours to get a plan together and implement it, all while teaching kids.
You see, while other surrounding districts went on an “extended spring break,” we put learning first. Teachers scrambled to prepare, not only for the students that were there to practice, but for students who we likely won’t see – if the recommendation today holds true – for another eight weeks.
As a coach in our building, I was not exempt from this feeling of strangeness. What could I possibly do within my role to support teachers through this time?
I taught an extended Skills Block lesson in kinder, combining two classes and captivating their attention for 40 minutes to give their teachers time to plan. What was supposed to be the second of a “You-Do-I-Do” lesson series accomplished its goal and so much more.
I picked two classes up from Specials so their teachers could squeeze in a few more minutes of face-to-face collaboration before remote planning becomes the norm next week.
I joined in the calm of 2nd grade, which was celebrating beach day, smiling as they donned beach hats and changed into shorts and flip flops before laying out on towels to read, all while the snow started falling. They were so engaged in Beach Day that their teacher could put together things for them before going home to where she doesn’t have internet.
I shopped at a 5th grade market, chatted outside 6th grade, and spent the day keeping away the thoughts that asked that I figure out what my role will be when the hallways clear, teachers go home, and we all commit to a new normal.
Starting Tuesday, we’ll be engaged in remote learning. Four days of this before our Spring Break kicks in, and likely many weeks – possibly months – more before we are able to share this space again.
So what will I be doing next week? I can tell you I won’t be hosting virtual professional development. I know from my Twitter and Facebook feeds that many coaches are and even have been. I will not be asking that teachers take online classes, nor will I be hosting my own.
Sure, if this lasts as long as I suspect, I will cross that bridge, shifting my coaching cycles, my feedback routines, my professional development offerings to the topics that will likely show themselves. But this is not the time for that.
How many days into the zombie apocalypse do you think we’d have to be before certain thought leaders stopped tweeting their Best Resources For Passionate Teaching In Challenging Times and I’ve Been Bitten But I’m Not Stopping Teaching Because I Love BRAAAAAIINS platitudes?— Doug Robertson (@TheWeirdTeacher) March 14, 2020
I will instead, offer my support. Third grade has asked that I join them in approving student comments in SeeSaw to encourage students to keep the online community alive.
Others may need help finding resources, reaching out to parents, covering classes when they or theirs get sick.
At the end of the day, learning is important, but it is not what matters most right now. So in response to what has been thought of as “reasonable expectations” in this time of unreasonableness I developed a common-sense PD plan that (I hope) honors who were are as a community of learners going through this together. I will also be offering a bit of sanctuary, a space where teachers can find a bit of respite, a loosening of demands and a colleague in Crew, one who is willing to let my role become what it needs to.