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HomeRoom: What a Week of Distance Learning Can Be

In This Issue...

  • Reflections from Suzanne Herko, Student Agency Coordinator
  • RESOURCE: Distance Learning "Week at a Glance" Schedules
  • LINK: Everything You Can Do with the Smithsonian Learning Lab
  • VIDEO: How to Use Newsela for Remote Teaching
  • LINK:  Please Do a Bad Job Putting Your Course Online
  • VIDEO: Mindfulness Classes for Kids and Families
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“Starting with Empathy"

Reflections from Suzanne Herko, Gateway Student Agency Coordinator and 7th grade Humanities/ Learning Seminar Teacher

As educators, we talk a lot about having a "growth mindset," and that has become more important than ever as we and our students adapt to this new way of teaching and learning. What does that look like?

For one, it's recognizing that we are all, in one way or another, beginners at this. You work as hard as you can to put out the best lesson or plan for the week that you can, and you learn from it and every iteration after that. You really are going through the process with your students, so I've found it's incredibly important to operate from a place of forgiveness when things aren't perfect – for myself, for students, for each other as colleagues – and to keep our sense of humor.

For another, it's important to recognize how much we actually have to build on. Yes, there are a thousand and one different platforms and programs online we can use to engage with kids and teach them, but we need to start with what we know and are comfortable with, as educators, and branch out from there. That's what will give us the confidence to successfully lead our kids, who could easily become overwhelmed or get lost, because this is such a big transition for all of us.

Ultimately, all of our learning and interactions with students, families and our community has to come from a place of care and concern. Starting with empathy and figuring out where each student is at has to be the priority in this crisis – and the learning will happen once our students feel taken care of. And while I miss hanging out with my kids, I have found moments of joy and connection that wouldn't be possible otherwise: getting to see them in their own spaces with their favorite posters and toys, checking out what creative projects they're up to, "meeting" their siblings and pets and getting to see their dynamics together.

We didn't get into teaching to sit behind a desk all day, and these moments of connection via video or email are what will keep us centered and rooted even as our circumstances continue to shift. In these moments, I can feel the community we've worked so hard to build as a school, and it brings me back to my purpose and why I chose this field in the first place.

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