Is anyone else absolutely fried after doing, what feels like, a meager work load? I am at home all day long, barely working, and I still feel like the most menial task wipes me out. This is definitely because of the lack of outlets, lack of normalcy, and increased mental stress of the unknown. And guess what else I am finding… kids are feeling the exact same way. They are overwhelmed. They can hear and feel the stress happening around them. When kids are stressed they can’t retain new information well.
When kids are STRESSED, they can not retain new information at the same capacity.
What Does This Mean For Instruction?
- Keep it minimal. I know, there’s pressure to perform right now because it’s easy to feel like you need to pump out lots of online learning to keep getting paid. Right? Teacher’s are worried. So keep working BUT… (do what I posted below)
- Keep it light. Keep it fun. Create fun activities that are easy. Three hours of gym homework is insane. Okay? Okay. How about challenging students to make a funny workout video? Or create a physical goal to meet during this time? Or share and vote on the best workout routines that can be done in the home?
- Make retention the ultimate goal. Friends, almost every state has cancelled their end of year tests. Almost every university has changed this semester to be Pass/Fail instead of grades. If reduction is the best policy for adults, why should children be held to a higher standard? Focus on material already taught. Add in a few tidbits here and there.
- Provide optional extension activities. This is literally your chance to teach things outside the normal curriculum. Consider environmental studies, social/emotional activities, journaling, reflection practice, letter writing, cursive practice, etc.
“Consider The Following…”
(yes, I am totally borrowing this phrase from Bill Nye The Science Guy)
If you are worried about your job security and not completing a rigorous amount of work, trust me, there is plenty of work to do beyond lesson completion. After creating your lessons, start reaching out to families. Help students. Get directly involved. I promise if you take this seriously, your day will be chuck full of students to help. Reach out to special education. Can you read with a student? Can you reteach a topic? Can you help differentiate a lesson for a struggling student? Can you create a different set of work for a student who is far behind? Trust me, there’s work to do. There is no need to create more assignments to fill time.
A lot of teachers also worry about students loosing many months of standardized learning… Can everyone pause for one second? Think this through with me. Do we actually believe that a standardized test score shows how much a child has gained in learning? Do you actually buy into this or not? Teachers say that tests don’t show what a child actually knows, but then we all loose our minds when students suddenly could test lower. The test score is not a prediction of success! Predictors of success are: acting in a manner that is closest to middle class social norms, and high emotional/social intelligence. So what should we be focusing on with students? Reflection, resiliency, stress relief, how to deal with stressed adults, where to find peace, where to find happiness, how to stay curious, how they keep learning… NOT shoving test related knowledge down our student’s throats.
An additional thought, our brains don’t work like empty cups that have to be filled every 9 months or else they loose everything. That’s what it appears like when you look at standardized test scores. But brains mature. Children learn how to learn. Things we miss along the way, get caught up later in life. We don’t get just one year to learn every third grade concept. That’s ridiculous thinking. We gain knowledge, we loose it, we pull it back when we need it, and we learn how to be adaptable. That is how adults are successful.
Wrapping It Up
Focus on families. Families need a break right now. WE ARE IN A CRISIS. Teachers, we are in a crisis. Please let families breathe. Focus on lifelong learning skills.
Now parents, let teachers actually take a step back. It’s going to be okay. Your student is going to be okay.