Just a few short months ago no one had ever heard of the term “remote learning”. Now…educators across the world would give anything to forget it…and get back into the classrooms with their students.
Here in Illinois, we’re still waiting on direction for what the opening of school will look like in August. Will we be remote learning again? Back in school six feet apart with masks? Or will it be a hybrid version of both? It’s hard to imagine and plan for it when there’s still so many unknowns.
Whatever school ends up looking like, I will never forget this time of remote learning. There were things that I learned that I continue to hold on to throughout the rest of my career in education.
- People step up. Not only did individual teachers step up in a big way, it seems like the whole educational world did, too. Programs and companies that originally charged a lot for use, suddenly we’re giving teachers free access to everything they had. I’m sure they took a financial hit, but they were able to look at the bigger picture for the greater good of our students.
- Relationships first, always. I’m convinced the remote learning experience went well in my district because of the relationships that had already been put into place. Just like other schools around the world, we believe that the relationships we build with our students is the thing that helps them become successful in school.
- Prioritize what students need to know. It’s not a shock to us that the Common Core Standards has raised the rigor and expectations for our students and teachers. Prior to COVID, teachers were killing themselves to make sure every tiny aspect of the standards were covered. This experience showed us that our kids will be fine if they don’t master every single new skill. Take a deep look at the standards and decide what they have to know and teach those well.
- Take care of yourself. I know you’re all reading this and thinking, “Duh, Liz. Of course I’m taking care of myself.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me, working and “momming” all day, every day, d-r-a-i-n-e-d me. I’ve always heard people preaching how important self-care is, but I never really listened. During the past few months, I learned just how important it really is. Whatever fall ends up looking like, I’ll be sure to carve out some time for me to relax and unwind.
- Put the computers away. I’m sure some of you just gasped out loud. I know how fortunate we are in my district; I don’t take that lightly. We have been 1 to 1 with technology for a couple years now and our students are pros with navigating all the different programs we use. Of course, that helped when we transitioned to remote learning. However, this whole experience reaffirmed for me just how crucial getting actual books and pencils in students’ hands are. When we go back to school, I will continue to work on matching books with readers, in hopes of igniting their passion for reading.