In a recent Zoom staff meeting, my principal asked five staff members to share the ways they’ve reached out to students. One teacher shared that he’d sent out a journal activity to his students, and one replied, “Can I survive this first?” That comment sparked a conversation about this historic moment and the kinds of stressors, pressures, fears, and anxieties students, families, and communities are presently feeling. (more…)
As we have transitioned into new territory, I’ve found that many of us seem to be undergoing a process of grief. Initially, I of course was in denial, just as many of my staff and students were. I wanted to be at school as long as I was able to, I wanted to see the staff coming in as they came to gather their things from their classrooms; I wanted connection. I honestly thought we would get through this situation expeditiously, and our working from home routine would only be temporary. (more…)
Throughout my #remotelearning series, I have tried to provide practical ideas and strategies that can be used now. One aspect that needs more attention, at least in my opinion, is how we can assist parents throughout this ordeal. It goes without saying that many of them are dealing with some intense challenges such as equitable access to technology, WiFi availability, finding time to assist their kids with schoolwork, and a general sense of not knowing what to do in a remote learning world. Combine this with the added responsibility of working from home themselves, dealing with impending or current unemployment, the stress of not being able to see older relatives, and being a parent, and you can assume that tensions are running high. They need our support and understanding just as much as our learners do. Together we are better, especially in times of crisis. (more…)
Erika Burden, PhD, principal at Westwood Middle School in Spokane, WA, has been honored as the NASSP Advocacy Champion of the Year.
In March 2020, students and educators walked out the doors on a sunny Friday afternoon, waving to one another because spring break had officially begun. Little did any of us know that spring break 2020 would turn into COVID break 2020. Projects were completed, more books were read, but then reality came knocking, and we as educators found ourselves back at work and communicating with students—and each other—in new ways. (more…)
It’s not every day that an issue that impacts my work at my Dallas elementary school makes it into the pages of the New York Times. Yet this opinion piece spoke directly and persuasively to the need for per-pupil spending data to be available and understandable to the public in order to forward conversations about equity in education. (more…)
If we revisit Harry Wong’s The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, we know that we can’t access Bloom’s taxonomy until we address Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. During this time of considerable uncertainty, it is increasingly important to consider mental health and wellness as a need we must address before we can get to the higher-order thinking skills associated with great instruction and learning. To that end, our school system quickly made plans to take school counseling online during this challenging time. (more…)
It’s that time of the year again—spring has sprung despite the health crisis we are currently experiencing. I first wrote this blog post for the (now canceled) April virtual tour that was supposed to occur in our building. As I attempted to redesign the event—that is what we are doing as a nation educationally, redesigning instruction, redesigning engagement, and redesigning what we do best as educators—I realized the message of supporting mental health is as poignant now as it was before. And as I have been working to accommodate our new reality, my thoughts continue to return to my garden.
How are you? No, really. If you are an educator today, your life has completely turned upside down in a matter of weeks. Just a few weeks ago, most of us were getting ready (or returning) from a spring break, some of us were planning activities for St. Patrick’s Day, while others were grading projects for the end of the quarter. (more…)
On Tuesday, March 10, I was meeting with my instructional leadership team after school for our regular monthly meeting when I was alerted that an email just came in from our superintendent about COVID-19. Effective immediately, all after-school activities, assemblies, and events were cancelled. School would continue during the day as normal, but no guests would be allowed on campus. The email was sent to the entire district: staff, students, and parents. There was no warning, no call to the principals to prepare us. This was a sudden mandate we needed to respond to. (more…)