This school year is no doubt different for every educator. In some way, shape, or form the way we taught our students six months ago is different from teaching them today. In the spring, I was teaching remotely, as many were, and working to continue learning connections with my third-grade students. This year turned out to be more different than I could have imagined. While many of my colleagues in my school are teaching face-to-face, I am teaching remote kindergarten. I’m still getting my legs under me as I enter my second full week with students, but I have definitely learned a whole lot in the last three weeks as this adventure continues to unfold. I have three survival tips for teaching remotely that cover you and your writing workshop, and chances are, other parts of your day as well.
Find a Thought Partner
Recently I reached out to friends and said, “I need a remote k teacher friend, help!” My friends helped, and I was connected to Janet Ahn, a kindergarten teacher on the other side of the country. We have chatted on Zoom, shared email threads, and I can even text her during the day with a question when I have it. Having Janet available as a thought partner has helped me avoid some big mistakes and process through even bigger ideas. We are helping each other to be better. Janet let me visit her classroom via Zoom as a guest, and watching her teach was the next level of support that I needed. If you haven’t found a thought partner for navigating all the challenges we face as teachers right now, say so in the comments. I will do my best to connect you to someone. You can also send out a call on Twitter or Instagram.
Seek Research-Based Practices
One of my favorite resources for up to date research-based practices is from The Early Literacy Initiative. “The Early Literacy Initiative is a core component of supporting the implementation of College- and Career-Ready standards in Michigan, particularly in our earliest grades.” Recently, Nell Duke shared some remote instruction videos. One, in particular, really intrigued me as it uses Jamboard as a tool within a live lesson for interactive writing. The video below shares some of her work. The interactive writing lesson begins at 14:27 if you want to skip ahead. I’ve long known interactive writing is an essential component of writing instruction, and Nell Duke inspired me to re-imagine how this would look in the remote classroom.
…so you can go fast later!
I’ve had many a moment in the past several weeks, where I wanted to go faster. I wanted to give all the materials out too fast. I wanted to have lots of videos and live sessions ready to go too fast. I wanted to build relationships and connections too fast. I realized no one is in the mood for too fast and whether I liked it or not, I needed to slow down.
It may not feel like I’m accomplishing enough in these moments, but I know slowing down and building some foundations will mean that we can move faster later. The struggles of clicking, dragging, muting, talking, typing, photographing, and audio transcripts are real, and they are also really awesome. Going slow to go fast later will be worth it in the end.
To recap, find a thought partner and if you don’t know how to find one, let me help. Seek research-based practices, and you can start with the example I shared or your own favorite. Last, slow down. Take a moment and remind yourself of what is a must and what can wait. It has really helped me immensely, and I hope it helps you too.
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.