I can honestly say that whenever I answer the question “So, what do you do as a career?” no one has ever replied (and I mean EVER) that they would love to do my job. The actual responses range from slight gasps to proclamations of sainthood. When I then excitedly proclaim, “…and I love it!!” well, minds are blown. I am a middle school teacher (please do not make a judgement on my soundness of mind).
Many, many of you will likely have a new job in the next few weeks, if you haven’t been tapped already. Schools are closing across the country and moving student’s learning on-line. As a result your kids will all be home…all day.
So here is the first thing I want you to know — no one (and I mean no one, no matter what kind of expert they claim to be) knows how to do this. That’s important for you to remember. We are all going to need help, support, guidance and above all, a little grace.
Our education system, all we have ever known to be true and consistent,
is now upside down and inside out.
Secondly, educating our kids is going to be challenging for everyone involved —
teachers, students, schools, & parents. Everyone is being asked to do things that we have never done before, never dreamed we would be doing now, and are far outside of our comfort zones. Look for resources to help and support you and your students
during this time of uncertainty. You know, like this blog!
I walk through the world seeing events always through the lens of kids.
It is a side effect of being passionate about my career in educating adolescents and teenagers. I hope to help you with your kids in this new normal by sharing some of my experiences, knowledge, and survival techniques I’ve accumulated over 25 years of experience. I’d love to think I will make you laugh a bit along the way as well.
I do not know how things will play out over the next few months.
I do know that things are going to change.
On some level, you are going to have to act, not so much as their teacher,
but rather more like an academic coach. For our middle and high school kids, you will not have to become experts in European History or fluent in French.
You won’t (and you should not for those of you that need to hear that) do their calculus homework or write their book summary for English class. But you will
need to support them emotionally with this complete upheaval in routine
and environment surrounding the largest part of thier lives.
You will have to be a guide with time management, task management, focus and attention, project planning…. You will have to help them navigate their social distancing
from friends (which for many, many is THE only important aspect
of on-line learning to be worried about right now. End of story).
Let me say again — don’t panic.
Do, however, start thinking about how this will look in your family.
In other words, start planning like a teacher. We don’t walk into the new school year without a framework for all of the above and then some.
We have contingency plans for everything, and back up plans for the contingency plans.
We think through scenarios. We know not everything will work,
and we accept that before anything goes off-plan —
which, by the way, happens hourly in a middle school. Be comfortable with being flexible, trial and error, and making and correcting mistakes.
I will write more about what you might want to begin thinking about and anticipating
but for now these are the vital characteristics a middle school teacher has to have ...
Take nothing personally.
Leave no man behind.
Never let them see you cry. (or get angry or frustrated)