This week we kicked off our Google Classroom Camp for 125 educators and leaders. On the morning of our first online session, I took my usual walk with my dogs. This morning's walk was a little earlier than usual as I wanted to complete some finishing touches to the online portion of our camp.
When I passed the first overlook this was my view:
No view... just fog. (and the sun trying to poke through) Now, if I was new to this view I wouldn't know what was on the other side of the fog. But I'm not new to this view. I walk here basically every day so I know what is on the other side of the fog.
Here's the next overlook on that morning, and on another morning:
On this foggy morning, I stood out and thought 'this is where we are right now.' We are in the fog. As educators the situation is fluid, changes being made daily, new information coming at us hourly.
We are in the fog.
But here's the thing. We are educators. We know what is on the other side of that fog. (just like I knew what was on the other side of the fog that morning) We know because we are educators. We know that our students are on the other side of that fog. We know what learning looks like. We know what creating a safe and engaging learning environment looks like. We've seen it. We've celebrated in it. We've laughed in it. We've been there, we've seen what is on the other side of this fog.
Although things are very different than what we've experienced in the past, the bottom line is we know what to do. We know we need to support and nourish (both academically and social emotionally) the students who will be in our classrooms this fall.
So, give yourself a break and breathe.
Make a list of ways you make students feel welcome in your classroom.
Then brainstorm a list of how you can do the same things in a virtual environment. ie do you have a morning meeting? How about on asynchronous days you post a short good morning video and introduce a question that students will answer and have other students respond to as well online? If you are hybrid with different cohorts post the question everyday and have both your in-class students and home students engage together. This could be our morning routine.
Now, make a list of the routines and procedures that you have in your classroom.
Do these current routines work well? Can they transfer to a virtual/hybrid environment? How would they look? How can you teach these to your students?
Start with one area of content at a time and follow these steps. (identify how you did it before, think about how it can be adjusted or changed to suit your new environment)
Start planning for simple lessons to get you started in the year. Think 'getting to know' procedures (getting to know each other, getting to know the procedures, getting to know the digital workflow)
Start with what you know- good teaching and good learning, and welcoming students into your learning environment.
Remember: your attitude and mindset will set the stage for your climate and for your environment.
See through the fog to what you know.
We've got this because we are teachers.