Hi librarian friends! It has been a week since all schools in my state were shut down indefinitely and I still have a hard time believing that we may not be back for the rest of this school year. We are all still in shock about this pandemic and scrambling to figure out how to continue to teach our students during these closures. Based on the experiences that I’ve had in the past seven days, I’ve come up with 5 tips to help keep your sanity during this time. Read on to download a free lesson planning guide!
1. Promote and utilize the digital resources that you already have as much as possible. This is a great time to let parents know what databases you already have in your district as well as your public and state libraries. I just recently visited my public library’s website and noticed that they have the Mango Language Learning Software available for patrons to sign in and use. My two girls are both taking Spanish and can use this resource to continue practicing at home! I know that many subscription-based educational sites are offering free access right now and that’s great. I’m going to have my students use them so that they can have as many online reading and learning choices right now as they can. Just keep talking up the resources that will continue to be available to them after this crisis is over.
2. Refrain from sending multiple emails to parents and staff about new resources that you find. My neighborhood association has a Facebook group and many parents were posting that they were overwhelmed by the amount of emails they were getting from school. Realistically, they are not going to examine every link that is sent to them. I’m doing my best to curate and only send out links that I truly think parents and students will use. My current favorites are Mo Willems Daily Doodles and the Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari Videos.
3. Send a personal message to your students. Whether it’s a video you post on your library website or an email, keep that connection with the kids. Aim for once per week. My short little videos have featured my dog (who willingly loves to do this) and my own kids (who weren’t as willing, but finally relented for the greater good!) I’ve had students email me after I post to share pictures of their own pets and families. It definitely warms my heart and makes me miss them even more!
4. Keep your lessons simple. Our district has asked that specials teachers send weekly lessons to our students. Teachers are not to assign anything or require that anything be turned in for a grade. I’ve decided to pick a theme for each week and have a “Read, Research, Make” format. Click HERE if you would like copies of what I have created so far. I’ve also included a couple of generic distance learning library templates for you to create your own “Read, Research, Make” themes. (New templates added 5/5/20) IMPORTANT: Please make sure to DOWNLOAD and SAVE your own copy so that you can edit the text to suit your needs.
5. Practice Self-Care. First and foremost, we have to take of ourselves and our families. This is such a stressful and uncertain time for everyone. All teachers in our district were told that we would be lucky if half of the students utilized or even looked at the distance learning options that were given to them during this closure, for various reasons. We were told to do our best to provide meaningful learning opportunities, but to also not spend hours doing school work and to take care of ourselves and our families. I really appreciated that!
I’ve designed some fun shirts to wear while you are “zooming” with your students. These designs come in multiple styles, colors and sizes. Pick the one that best suits you!
I hope and pray you and your families are healthy and happy! We’ll get through this together!