Teaching

A Letter to the Teachers of America in the time of COVID-19

letter 1

Hi friends, colleagues, fellow teachers, 

I’ve been hearing individually from many of you and answering many of you individually and I think it’s time I spoke with all of you at once about what we are doing in this time of COVID-19

I know that a few of you are frustrated. You want a plan. You don’t want to waste instructional days. You want to get started now. You are not alone. Many teachers online from all over California and the US are saying the same things online. But trust me. Things are happening behind the scenes. Lots of things. So many changes from day to day, hour to hour. While I sit at home typing this, district personnel are in the district in virtual and real meetings with departments of Education, Public Health Departments, CA Department of Education, and so many other meetings. We might think “we have Canvas, we have Chromebooks, let’s go” but it’s not that easy. All districts have to think about everyone’s needs and coordinate it all together. SPED students, ELL students, students in vulnerable populations, students who see our school nurses, students who see our school psychologists, students who view school as a haven, not because of the school-work, but because they get to spend time with adults who truly care about them. 

When our leadership and others said to take these days off to take care of our families they meant it. I bet they wish they could take these days off too to take care of their families: finalize shopping, find day-care options for their kids, reach out to their own parents, and make sure they are okay. It was thoughtful of them to give us this three day break. Let’s take advantage of it. 

Right now I think we have one responsibility to our students, our families, and our friends. Please work at keeping your family and students calm until we can process all of this. People often struggle accepting the unexpected and unimaginable, but we can get through this if we stay calm, work at what we can, and stick together. 

I used my phone to make a short video for my students. Then I uploaded it to YouTube. Nothing fancy. No titles or editing. Just record and upload. Then I clicked “share” and copied the URL. Then I went to Canvas and posted an announcement for each class and pasted the link into the announcement. Here’s the video. 

I have not posted any new assignments. As of now we don’t know anything that will happen. We need to wait until later this week. My son is in OCC. He takes EMT classes. OCC shutdown classes completely for two weeks . They didn’t just move them online. They shut them down. This is stressful for him because there is a test he has to pass for EMT and they also aren’t letting him do his field work. By they, I mean local ambulances and hospitals. But we understand. This is not business as usual. 

I know how hard all of you work. I see it everyday. You want to make sure AP/IB students are prepared and not losing days. You want to make sure EL and reading students are gaining crucial skills and not falling behind, but things are changing fast. I’m hearing the state may cancel CAASP testing and who knows if there will be AP/IB testing this year or if we will even have classes at all until next Fall. Some districts have asked their teachers to stop grading and assigning any work. We need a week to gather information and see what’s happening in our lives moving forward. 

Even if we do decide to move forward with online learning things will not be business as usual for our students or their families. They aren’t now. You may feel that students are sitting at home doing nothing, and maybe some are, but many of our students are busy and stressed. Shopping, taking care of siblings, watching the news, talking with friends, trying to process everything. They might be worried that soon they are going to have to take care of a sick parent or older relative. Families might be stressed about finances, maybe their parent(s) or guardian(s) are already making less money. They are looking for calm adult leadership and you can provide it by reaching out and leaving them a message and putting a hold on school-work for a few days until we figure this out. 

I promise you that as soon as the nation, state, county, and district figure everything out Your district leadership and TOSAs and instructional leaders will be there to help you figure distance learning out. But for now please take care of your families, friends, and neighbors- check in with your students and stay calm and patient. 

I am so proud of all of you. I know how much work you do. I watched my wife prepare her kindergarten students and parents for this disruption, I can only imagine what all of you are thinking and going through. I care about all of you and wish you the best. Please feel free to contact me at any time. Stay safe, stay well. 

letter 2
My +75 year-old mom who is counting on all of us to keep her healthy

***

 

I leave you with a few reminders:

  1. Please get outside a little.

2. If and when we are ready to get back to teaching please remember-

3. And lastly

4. I love these fun challenges our principal is sending out via Twitter. What else can we do to connect with our students and staff?

4 comments

    1. Truly wise advice. I’ve followed your blog for several years. My wife and I have taught at an international school in Saudi Arabia for five years. Schools were closed on March 9. Our school took one day to transition everything k-12 to online virtual school. Needless to say, the past 10 days of virtual school have been steadily more taxing as the extent of this crisis has overwhelmed us emotionally.

      During the next pandemic, my advice will be: completely shut down the school for two weeks. It’s too much to ask of your community to keep things up and running.

      Priority 1 in times like these is EXACTLY what you say: take care of yourself and your family!

      Thank you for spreading this message.

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