No doubt about it…distance learning as a result of the pandemic has probably been one of the hardest endeavors that teachers have experienced. Fortunately, you can put teachers in any environment, and they naturally adapt. Educators are some of the most resilient, creative, and resourceful professionals out there.  

For the last 17 years, I’ve partnered with teachers across the country as a literacy specialist and coach.  I’ve had a ton of discussions recently about distance learning, and I keep hearing the same thing time and time again.  Teaching remotely has reminded even the most veteran teachers of their first year of teaching – when everything felt new. Educators were suddenly thrust into “building a plane while flying it” — trying new digital tools, new avenues of communication with their students, new systems of lesson planning–all while trying to ensure their students were progressing. 

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With so much new, I found that sometimes what educators missed most was just knocking on a colleagues’ door for a quick pep talk or brainstorming session. By nature, teachers love to share. We’re talkers, communicators, and collaborators. We spend a lot of time in the classroom with our young people. And as much as we appreciate that time, there is a point where we need adult conversation. Whether it’s sharing a funny student comment, commiserating about a student’s less than stellar behavior, maybe celebrating a successful lesson, or reflecting on a parent phone call, it’s amazing how many of these meaningful moments we share with our colleagues.  I believe that it is vitally important for our growth (and possibly our sanity) that these kinds of connections and conversations continue to happen even at a distance. 

It’s also important, as we prepare for the next school year, that we feel confident and comfortable should remote learning or dual-modality learning continue in the fall.  While this summer brings with it a well-deserved moment to relax and recharge, it’s also an opportunity to engage in purposeful professional learning with an emphasis on digging digitally deep and refining your skills with resources that you found worked well in a distance learning context.  

Talk with your colleagues — what virtual tools worked for them? Set up a summer virtual coffee hour or virtual happy hour series and share those tools! Make it real by demoing a digital discussion board, a virtual scavenger hunt, collaborative graphic organizers, breakout rooms, or interactive whiteboards and padlets. Share ideas for application and implementation and then, choose a few you like and become an expert!  This summer can be a time to play, experiment, and find your groove in this new world of education. 

To hear more of Karen’s thoughts on professional learning and collaboration subscribe to our Fresh Ideas for Teaching podcast on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

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Karen Miller

Karen Miller

Literacy Specialist

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.