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What to Expect from the #TWTBlog Team During COVID-19 Extended School Closures

I’ve been at home recuperating from foot surgery since late February. Therefore, my time has been spent alternating between listening to new podcasts, binge-watching baking shows, commenting on Slice of Life stories, talking with my family, reading the newspaper, and listening to the news. Consuming media around the clock has a way of making one feel like the sky is falling. 

As someone who lived in Manhattan on September 11th, this feels entirely different. Native New Yorkers are resilient, defiant people. After September 11th, most of us hopped on crowded subways, supported downtown restaurants, and flew on planes as a way of showing the terrorists that we would not be deterred. Yet, we knew there was no returning to life as we knew it before 9/11. The novel coronavirus is not a terrorist attack. We have no guidebook for how to manage a global pandemic, which is why social distancing (Am I the only one who’d prefer to call it physical distancing?) and self-quarantines have become the new normal.

Like many, I’m trying to protect my family. I’ve put together a schedule with my daughter, which we’ve revised together. I’ve directed my husband to buy our fair share of toilet paper, tuna fish, dried fruit, and chocolate (Because chocolate is going to be my vice for the next few weeks!) to get through the next couple of weeks. None of my preparations feel like enough, but I’ve done what I can.

Back in 2007, when I co-founded Two Writing Teachers, it was a blog where we shared reflections on our teaching. Posts from the early days were written with the spirit of “this is what I tried and look at how it worked” and “this is what I did and here’s how it failed.” In recent years, TWT has evolved so that we share our best thinking about a variety of topics that fall under the umbrella of a writing workshop. We try to provide information and resources you can use in your classroom the very next day. While we will continue our scheduled topical posts at this time, I feel it’s imperative to say we are not experts in this new realm of remote teaching and learning at the elementary and middle schools levels. We’re not sure what next week or next month will look like, but I can tell you what to expect from our team of co-authors, contributing writers, and guest bloggers.

  • Expect honesty. As a team, we’ve been emailing back and forth once the U.S. school closures began. We’ve been debating how to best serve students to help them maintain what they’ve learned and to continue to grow as writers. With decades of experience among us, we do not yet have a consensus about what will work best. Some of us feel hesitant to recommend sitting kids in front of screens for online tutorials and to use apps. Some of us feel hesitant about greenbelt, or low-stakes, writing being the only kind of writing kids do. All of us know we don’t want to put a greater burden on students’ families than we would want to have on ourselves. Therefore, you can expect us to share our present thinking, which is subject to change.
  • Expect ideas, rather than solutions. Some questions we’re asking each other as a writing team include (and are certainly not limited to): 
    • How can we ensure children are writing when their caregiver(s) are unable to be present? 
    • How can we ensure children have access to writing tools, WiFi and devices?
    • How can children and families lean on writing authentically in these challenging times? 
    • How can educators support children as writers remotely? 
    • How can classroom communities remain connected?
While we don’t expect to find answers to all of these questions, we will share our ideas for overcoming these and other obstacles in future posts.  
  • Expect humility. We’re navigating this uncertain time alongside you. Some of us are classroom teachers, while others of us are coaches and consultants. We may suggest something to try, and it may not work. Alternatively, you may have expanded upon what we’ve shared in your own practice. We commit to learning alongside you. Please share your thoughts, questions, and/or experiences  by leaving a comment or sending us a personal email.

As a team who cares deeply about children and educators, we are considering everything we can do to help the situation. At this time, we plan to continue our previously-scheduled topical posts throughout the springtime. In addition, we will continue to run the 13th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge and the 8th Annual Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge (the latter of which will look slightly different since many people won’t be with their students in April). We will do this because we believe in the tremendous power of story to connect us during these anxiety-provoking times. 

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

32 thoughts on “What to Expect from the #TWTBlog Team During COVID-19 Extended School Closures Leave a comment

  1. Thank you for all you are doing! I found this site at the end of February and joined the Slice of Life challenge in March. What a wonderful gift you have given us all! Through writing, there is a community of understanding, laughter, comradery that is helping hold me together. Thank you!

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  2. Thank you Stacey and the TWT team for creating such a thoughtful, safe, and caring place. Your words are a beacon of hope and sanity in these unsettling times.

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  3. I’ve not been to sleep since yesterday. I am exhausted and emotional. I think this post is perhaps the most beautiful and meaningful I’ve read since joining this community, and I am unable to adequately express how much of a gift it has been.

    I’m so thankful to have recently joined the Colorado literacy organization I discovered here because they retweeted it and brought to my attention.

    The candor, transparency and sincerity of your post resonate with me in a manner that strums my most delicate heartstrings. I am so grateful that you have followed your passion in this regard and created this community of writers that cannot be deterred by global tragedy.

    I’m not sure that you can ever imagine the strength of your impact. I am humbled and honored to be a part. Thank you for everything you do.

    With Warmest Regards,

    ~Carla Michelle

    please excuse typos. eyes feel too exhausted to reread. #sigh

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Carla. I am glad my words brought comfort to you. I showed it to three of my co-authors before I hit publish because I wanted to make sure my tone was right. I think it’s so important that all of us are gentle with ourselves and our tone right now… because what’s happening is just so, so much to deal with.

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      • Oh My God, they really did! I felt your gentility at my core. This has been the best social-media related writing experience I’ve ever had. So grateful to have crossed your paths. With all sincerity, Carla Michelle

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  4. So well said. This is such a comforting post for everyone involved in this SOL challenge as well as just educators in general trying to figure out what’s what with everything right now. I’ve gotten so many messages about how after a couple of days at home, homeschooling with the guidance of our school districts and the enormous efforts being made by our children’s teachers, parents are burnt out and overwhelmed. As teachers we get it, what they are going through trying to do the work we’re trained to do and feeling like they’re failing. A quick acknowledgement of that struggle and some LOL if welcomed, followed by a boost from us to each one is so helpful. This post is all of that for all of us. Thank you.

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  5. Thanks so much for the tremendous platform and service you provide here for all of us. None of us knows this path, it’s new for us all. I’m trying to support my students from afar–and still encourage dynamic, motivating learning. Many of my students were actively involved in learning activities today, but who knows how that will go as the week goes on and the novelty wears off. Lots of new, lots of scary… Looking forward to that time when school goes back in session.

    Kim

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  6. Thank you for this, and for all that you and the rest of the team do–I appreciate it. The community on this site makes things a little bit easier. We have our “close to home” colleagues with us most days (well, we did), and here we have colleagues from all over who share their ups and downs. It really is wonderful.

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  7. Thank you for being a beacon during this storm. This community’s connectedness is something that we’ll lean on and support as we try and navigate our way through the coming uncertain days. Thank you for keeping story and humanity at the heart of your focus – it’s incredibly grounding for the rest of us. We’re in this together!

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  8. I look forward to reading all of your ideas. This will be challenging but knowing we are coming together and sharing makes it less so. Thanks to all of you! I will be reading.

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  9. Thank you for this insightful reflection, Stacey. I particularly appreciate your empathy for the caregivers and families, “we don’t want to put a greater burden on students’ families than we would want to have on ourselves.” We are all going to be learning together. It means a lot to me to have the Two Writing Teachers community at this strange new time.

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    • While there is no good time for a global pandemic, having this “break” in March — at the same time as the SOLSC — is allowing us to get a better understanding of what our global audience is facing so that we can try to be as responsive as possible.

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  10. Thank you for all you are doing and your honesty to learn along side all of us. One suggestion would be to begin connecting with authors sites. Many authors are now posting or in the past have posts on their sites with short lessons and fun writing ideas directed towards students. This could be a great resource. If I find myself without Grandmother duty daily I will try to begin gathering the ones I know about. Ot if other teacher run across them they could send them to one person to gather and then post. Take Care everyone.

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    • Melanie and Lanny are in the midst of compiling resources like this. I believe Lanny’s post this Thursday will include resources such as Kate Messner’s amazing site with authors reading their books. Thank goodness for such a generous KidLit community!

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