What We Need. #sol20

downloadWhat We Need #sol20

I heard the door to my downstairs office push open and the jingle of her ‘jewelry’ as she checked on me.  Not turning around, I gave my attention to the class on the screen.  I heard her huff and then lower her aging body to the floor just outside the office door.  I’m not sure how long she waited there for me, but wait she did.  When I did get up and turn to check on her, there she was with the afghan caught in her collar.  She dragged the afghan and herself down the stairs when she couldn’t solve her problem and then waited for me to notice it and fix it.   My heart swelled at her patience, her faith that I could fix whatever problem she had.  My eyes stung with unshed tears.

My eyes have been stinging with almost tears with some frequency lately.  My dog, Lily’s situation reminds me of all the things I don’t notice now that I lack proximity.  When I talk to teachers, do I hear what they need.  Goodness knows about all of the other teachers I haven’t spoken with, and the countless students, how are they really doing?  What is the thing I can do to help?

I’ve been methodical and random at the same time in my efforts.  I created a website with resources curated to our learning community, meet regularly with the teachers I met with before our quarantine.  I record lessons, search for resources, share notes from virtual workshops, notice bright spots, offer suggestions.  None of it seems like enough.

…and it’s not.  Some are getting their balance.  The team’s are helping each other.  They might have been more technologically savvy.  They’ve been teaching longer and winging it is easier.  Perhaps all of those things are true.  Also, we do better together..  In our learning community, where we walk by a door and notice something going on.  We ask about it and the teacher next door shares.  Where I, like some little worker bee, go from room to room, cross-pollinating good ideas across the building.  It isn’t all me, those of us who roam, get a chance to share ideas in casual, organic, non-threatening ways.

The students have things shared with them that way as well.  They notice what others are doing and give it a try themselves.  We notice what they are doing and offer on the spot feedback and coaching.  On their own, it’s different.  Routines are different, sleep is different, schedules are different, demands are different.   Their confidence wavers.

So today, let’s work on our pollination.  If we think of a good idea or even a half-rate idea, let’s share it with a few people.  If we can connect students with each other to chat in our new small groups about work, reading and writing, let’s make every effort.

There’s been a lot of talk about exaggerating our enthusiasm and using our face and body language to show support and encouragement.  We can do that.  We really want to encourage each other because we desperately miss our communities.

So in that spirit,  let me share a few things today that I’ve noticed and tried.

  • To help with spelling,  I’ve started recording some spelling micro-lessons for teachers to share with students.  I’ve shared some basic word-solving techniques and also reminded students of phonics patterns along with creating home-based tools.
  • Our fourth grade, created Fourth Grade U, with a series of courses (small-group) published choices for students to choose from including, social seminar, book buzzers, organization 101, Learning Q & A, a virtual show and tell, Writer’s round table, and flexing math muscles.
  • Creating organization in her third grade class, one teacher created simple how-to videos about the ‘must-dos’ for student (and parents) to watch at home.




5 thoughts on “What We Need. #sol20

  1. Susan,
    I love this piece so much and relate to it on many levels-“My eyes have been stinging with almost tears…” and “I’ve been methodical and random at the same time in my efforts.”
    This year is a hard year for all of us.

  2. You’ve captured where I am too. I feel like I can’t do enough. Can’t help enough. I had the idea to do micro lessons that you described here. Maybe you’ve just pushed me to get going on that.

  3. I love the Fourth Grade U idea! I love offering authentic, meaningful options to students and families right now. It’s just so tough to do all of this work remotely. I really miss the quick check-ins before and after class and being able to watch students and see what is needed. Really difficult to gauge need without proximity!

  4. Hi, Susan. First of all, I loved the story about your dog Lily. And I relate to the need to do more and miss my grad students, even though we Zoom once a week. I miss not being able to go into schools to share read alouds and do some model lessons. I am going to try to do more to encourage all my friends who are teaching full time and have had to adapt to online time with their students and colleagues. Our support is important – we all need cheerleaders right now. Thanks for sharing some great ideas here. Pollination. Yes, we can continue to do what worker bees do best!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s