Everyone has complicated lives, but the more you can simplify it and make it work for you, the better it is going to be. -Lewis Hamilton
I recently ran across this quote and the message spoke to me; it seems so very applicable in this current day and time. We are being overwhelmed with platforms, requirements, new ideas, and the world around us. An important question to ask ourselves right now is, how can I simplify? Virtual learning has revealed to us that there really only is time for the essential, for the heart of what we are wanting our students to learn. As we think about this school year, these tips from teachers across the country share with us how to move through this time and take it back to the basics.
Get to know your students. There are so many platforms and ways to ‘entertain’ students, but that pales in comparison to truly connecting with students. Whether it’s hybrid, socially distanced or virtual, focus on building community. More so this year than ever, it is necessary to listen, ask, observe, really find out who our students are and show them we care.
Limit the amount of apps and platforms. There are so many great options out there for teachers to access, and many schools are encouraging, or even requiring that you use several. As much as possible, limit the amount of technology that students have access to, especially at the beginning.
Take time to introduce all the platforms. Students do not need to learn them all in the first week, or even in the first few weeks. Use only the most essential platforms at the beginning, and begin to introduce any new ones as the need arises.
Play Games! In virtual, hybrid or socially distant classrooms, have fun! Students need a place to laugh, let go, connect with their peers and open up to joy. You can still use your favorite go-to’s! Any game can be converted to fit the space you are teaching in.
Take care of yourself. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Take a break, stretch, go for a walk, do a brief meditation. Allow yourself those few minutes every day to stop, breathe and step back in. When not in the ‘classroom’, hone in on what makes you feel alive. Carve out those few minutes to connect to that. It will pay off in sustainability.
You are doing the best you can. And that is enough. Tech failures, disconnects, lost presentations are all a part of what is the reality of teaching and learning today. That is ok, and can even be a source of humor through all of this. Embrace the chaos and continue to connect to kids; that is what matters in the end.
Focus on what is working. Today I was in a conversation with a teacher and they said, ‘but on the bright side’, and I was so impressed with that. It is easy to get bogged down with everything going on. However, if your perspective is to ‘look at the bright side’ and seek out something positive every day, it will change your outlook.
You are not alone. The number one sentiment I have heard from teachers is that it’s all too much. I want you to know that you are not alone. That there are others going through the exact same thing as you. Rest if you need to, reach out if you need to. There is a community of teachers waiting to connect and not only survive the day, but have fun with students, laugh, play and enjoy this year together!
We’ve been saying it from the beginning, and we truly are better together. Lean on each other and continue to find ways to simplify and find the joy. You and your students will thank you for it.