With a hasty switch to distance learning due to COVID-19, educators are dealing with a tsunami of challenges and emotions. Most of us had to scramble, with very little notice, to adapt to an entirely new way of planning and teaching. We’re also balancing a bucket-load of feelings, including isolation, stress, and frustration. We’ve lost our daily rhythm, our sense of place, and the feeling of belonging that comes with being part of a teaching community. In addition to figuring out how to balance work and family and missing our students like crazy, many of us feel like we’re going it alone without our colleagues at our side.
But social distancing doesn’t have to mean feeling disconnected.
True, we can’t just pop into each others’ classrooms with a thought, funny story, or helping hand. But we can send a short email, make a quick call, or text each other with pictures and funny memes. In fact, there are many ways we can still connect with our teacher community from afar. Check out these ideas:
Connect with an online teaching community.
Connect with like-minded professionals. If math is your jam, consider joining LONG + LIVE + MATH , a community of teachers who are leading the way to transform math learning. If you are a language teacher, check out #LanguageIsLimitless , a group of educators who are passionate about promoting language as a bridge in our global world.
Put team meetings and planning time on the calendar.
Schedule team meetings just as you normally would. Knowing there’s a time to connect with your colleagues to bounce ideas off one another, vent, share concerns, and ask or answer questions will help us get through this together. Even if it’s just a quick five-minute video conference with your teacher team scheduled first thing in the morning, it can help to see each others’ faces and offer encouragement for the day ahead.
Don’t forget about the other important members of your team.
We’re talking about the teachers who don’t teach the same grade or subject, but are invaluable to your students’ learning. For instance, art, P.E., and music teachers; instructional paras; TAG tutors; and language teachers. These teachers may feel even more isolated than they usually do. Include them in your team meetings. Email them to check in, and ask how you can support their efforts and collaborate with them to connect with students.
Honor your weekly rituals.
If you have a Tuesday morning coffee date, keep it up. Just do it virtually. If you take turns bringing in lunch for each other on Fridays, order food and have it delivered. And definitely keep up with happy hours! It’s so important to take time to laugh, encourage one another, and celebrate what is going right.
This too shall pass.
While eventually this bizarre new reality will come to an end, it remains to be seen whether or not things will go back to exactly the way they were before. Either way, we will have learned that staying connected to our teaching community is the key to everything.
Join your teacher team.
Want to connect with like-minded educators to support you during this challenging time and beyond? It’s free to join one of Carnegie Learning’s online teacher communities. If you’re a math teacher, check out LONG + LIVE + MATH. Language teachers can find their peers at #LanguageIsLimitless.