This summer undoubtedly looks and feels a little different than most summers. With the unknown hovering over everything, planning, reflecting, prepping, and even resting take on a different tone. It may feel more like you are in the eye of a storm, just waiting in the calm, bracing for the next impact.
It’s hard to know what to do that may be helpful for you in the coming days.
Here are a few ideas we’re seeing around the web.
Brush Up on Your Reading
From books about race relations to articles specifically designed for your content area, summer is the time most self-directed professional development occurs.
Now is a good time to look for anything you think can help you next year when (not if, because it’s pretty likely to happen) you have to do remote teaching again. You may as well start researching blended learning for your age group and content area and start looking for tutorials on various kinds of tools to use when teaching virtually.
Brace for COVID Changes
Now is a good time to reflect on your classroom management pre-pandemic and find all the individual routines you will need to adjust to keep yourself and your students healthy.
For example, if you are teaching early elementary and your students have always had a communal collection of supplies like crayons, glue, and scissors, find a way to separate those items so each child has their own supplies.
The same goes for pencils and pens at any level, and anything students use communally. Start planning now to create a way to separate and store math manipulatives and other items that cannot be used by multiple students without cleaning between each.
Think through your typical day in the past from beginning to end. Write down all the things you need to adjust, no matter how big or small. The list will be overwhelming and likely very long, but from there, you may be able to talk to friends, research, and find solutions that work for a variety of issues
Identify Your New Needs
As you develop a list of methods and routines that will need to change, start listing things that you need to make your transition possible. It may be useful to make a list with sections for items you’ll need to purchase or ask for, items you can make from purchased materials, and items you can repurpose to use for something new.
You may have to adjust your plans to fit into state and local health guidelines and requirements, so keep that in mind.
Also, remember that all of this is temporary. We don’t know how long this will last. It is possible that things will get better before next school year; however, there is also a chance that this will be our new normal for as much as a decade (sorry). Plan for the worst, and hope for the best, all the while knowing that eventually, this will pass.
In other words, try not to permanently damage anything you may need to use in its original form if possible.
Identify Your Support Community
You cannot make all these adjustments on your own. You can’t afford it, first of all. Secondly, the person-hours it will take to make individual sets of things you need is not something that’s possible for one person to do alone.
Ask friends, family members, former parents, and other members of your community now if they will be willing to volunteer some hours in the future. Ask your crafty friends, your friends who are handy and/or mechanically gifted if they may be willing to spare a few hours at the beginning of the school year to help you adjust anything that needs adjusting.
Then start making a list for each person. Make a sample if you are having a volunteer craft something, or a rough sketch if you need something built or made more functional.
If you’re struggling to open your email and have no idea how to make the apps you’re expected to use functional, find a techie friend to walk you through those programs.
Many communities are starting Facebook groups or other social media “boards” where teachers are able to ask for help with things they need.
Almost everyone in every community is interested in assuring that children are getting the education and care they need in a safe, productive way. Call on those resources. Use that support.
And make a list of every person who helps you. Note exactly what they did. Be sure you and your students find a way to thank them.
Create and Fill Your Wish Lists
This is an extension of the last few ideas, but so important that we want to give it a section of its own.
Take the time now to create, register, fill, and share your wish lists of items you need. Nearly every platform has this function available. Target.com, Walmart.com, Amazon.com, and teacherspayteachers.com are just a few of the places you can create a wish list to share.
Just choose one or two for all your registration needs. In choosing, whichever has the best prices for items you specifically need that will last the longest is your best bet.
We’ll be talking about each of these platforms in the upcoming weeks to show you, step by step, how to register, create a list, and share it.