How can we use this summer to get ready for all the “maybe” situations of the 2020-2021 school year?
We’re coming to the homestretch of what has been a crazy couple of months. Things seemed to change in the blink of an eye. One minute we’re enjoying spring break. The next we aren’t coming back to campus – for the rest of the year. We’ve been in survival mode for weeks, but now we are nearing summer break.
This won’t be our usual summer. So much is still up in the air. Some districts have announced their calendars. Others are still waiting. And then the governor announced in-person summer school can start as soon as June 1. In times like these, though, nothing seems solid. School may look very different next year if closures must once again go into effect. How can we be proactive and use some of the summer respite to get ready for what might come in the 2020-21 school year?
Here are a few of my recommendations:
Get to know your online learning platforms
For many teachers, adding online platforms, such as Google Classroom, were an option last year – until they weren’t. If you felt you were scrambling and just trying to keep your head above water, summer is the time to get comfortable with all the online tools and apps you have. This is your time to be the student. Before you are officially off for summer, make sure you have a good idea of what platform(s) will be available to you next year.
Also keep an eye out for campus and district trainings. Administrators know many may need more support. Check out what might be available (virtually or in-person, depending) and sign up! Remember, you are going to have to explain this to students, so you need to know how to do it yourself.
Prepare to launch online learning immediately
Be ready to get students on these platforms on day 1. Have sign-ins and passwords ready to go. Record how-to videos, etc., while you have the time. Be prepared to get your students using the platforms early on.
Teachers I was working with this year who were already using online platforms had a much easier time getting their students up and running with 100% online learning than those who didn’t. Taking the time early on to make sure students can navigate your online platform will save you stress later – especially if your campus goes to a hybrid model or has to have periods of closure.
Plan to integrate online learning into your lessons immediately
At this point, technology is not an add-on. It is a vital part of the student learning experience. Start thinking about how you can seamlessly make it part of your lessons from the get-go. Some examples include:
Creating a Google Site for each unit, regardless if you plan on handing materials out in class. Begin to build out pages for your classes. Begin to create online modules and resources.
Teach students how to create their own Google Sites. These can be turned in to projects or digital portfolios. You also will have a record of student progress.
Use Google Slides to create hyperdocs for all your lessons. These can be easily shared with students on Google Classroom or on a Google Site.
Plan to have students use apps such as Flipgrid to share. For example, students can post their book talks and share with the class virtually versus doing them in class.
Research and advocate
You might also want to explore what else is out there and available that could help you deliver the best instruction possible. Just because you don’t have a tool now, doesn’t mean you can’t ever get it. Do your research this summer and be ready to advocate for your ideas. There might be an opportunity here to get a program or subscription you’ve always wanted. Come with the data and your passion and advocate for yourself and your students.
Cultivate a flexible mindset
We know as teachers we have to be flexible. That is true now more than ever. During this summer, try to put yourself into a flexible mindset. Know that you cannot control many things that could potentially happen. Also know that you are strong enough teachers to handle whatever comes along. You can handle whatever changes might occur. Take this summer to center yourself. It takes a lot to teach under normal circumstances, let alone the unknown situations of a pandemic. You can do this. You will do this.
Rest and rejuvenate
I know from talking to many of you, that you all need a break. Many of you have been teaching your students and your own children. You have been sewing masks and searching for hand sanitizer online. You have been dreaming about how in the world you are going to get seventh graders to social distance in the fall. So much to think about!
This summer, while you arm yourself for the fall, don’t forget to take a moment to breathe. Catch up on sleep. Build your immune system. Relax. Congratulate yourself on a job well done this spring. You did it! You are a rock star! And maybe, just maybe, the rest of the world will finally see it!
Teachers, you’ve got this! It may be difficult, but no one became a teacher because they thought it would be easy. You are shining lights in all this, and you will continue to be that beacon of hope for many students and families in the fall. Be ready. Be rested. Be resilient.
And know that I am here to help. I’ve started a YouTube channel to share instructional ideas. You can check it out here.
I am also in the process of launching online courses.These will be on-demand and self-paced. They’re coming soon, so keep an eye out on my website and on social media. And don’t forget to subscribe to this website, so you can get emails with all the latest news from KH Literacy Education!