The last couple of weeks have seemed like the capstone project for my master's degree in pandemic pedagogy. (You know, that master's degree program that we all enrolled in together about eight months ago this Friday?) For nine instructional days, I was on quarantine while my students were (mostly) in class — so I taught kids who were at school and at home while I was at home (with the frequent “help” of my four delightful children). Then on the day I returned to school, I learned that rising case numbers were making it necessary for our school to shift to remote instruction, effective immediately, until December.
So as I write this to you, my students and I are two days into synchronous remote learning. I'm not sure how many instructional modes await me in what remains of 2020, but suffice it to say that the dude who will face them is not the dude nonchalantly teaching his students back in February of this year. Man. What. An. Education.
When I look back at the work you and I have been doing, I do marvel at the things we've learned. My list of “things to write about” is longer than my school's return to learning plan. So many insights, so many things that've helped… and not nearly enough time! I know that I can't produce more than two blog posts per week — not without placing undue pressure on the other areas of my work, not without bringing home each night a bedraggled dad and husband.
So eventually, I'll download my mind onto the blog here, as I have tried to do for the last eight years.
But for now, in case it might help you/your team sooner than later, I'm going to do another recorded session on “Ten (Or So) *More* Things That Are Helping Right Now.”
Here's what I'll be sharing in the session:
And someday, of course, I'll get these on the blog.
- How I taught and reinforced classroom norms in Zoom on Day 1 in a warm but authoritative manner.
- How I managed some (rather spectacular) misbehaviors during synchronous remote learning (remember, I teach ninth graders).
- How I've approached teaching the election impartially (plus the one short book that has helped me morally engage with the various “languages of politics” predominant in American culture).
- How I've re-modified moments of genuine connection this week (this is working very well).
- How the instructional model I shared last time handled the rapid transition from in-person to remote instruction.
- What I'm learning about why my low-fluff, zero-flash approach to curriculum and instruction works (meaning: it doesn't seem to leave students disengaged or angry or bored).
- What I do when students don't show up to synchronous class sessions (this is the top remote instruction question I receive from readers).
- Why Mr. Rogers is on my mind a lot these days (the world's first remote instructor?) and how there's much to gain from thinking through his approach (even in a high school setting).
- Why what passes for self-care and mindfulness PD seems a bit of an (unintentionally) unhelpful mishmash to me (and very practical methods for making it so much better).
- How “urge surfing” is yielding me new insights into why I struggle with distraction (and giving me new progress, too).
- Why most of the way I hear us talking about boundaries reminds me of sandcastles (when what we really need are the Himalayas).
And for every insight:
- Practical, flexible application ideas that you can take and try in your own life and practice.
I hope you'll join me!
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