What My Students Need Right Now

Last week I wrote about how the sudden transition from being a brick-and-mortar teacher to an online one had left me unsure of my next steps and how I looked to solve that problem by turning to the students and asking them to write me a letter about what they needed right now.

These letters were not graded, but I still got more students who turned them in than any other graded assignment of the year–nearly 90% of students ultimately replied. Many of the letters were quite long too, with students going on for pages about their stresses, sadness, and strategies concerning the crisis and the sudden loss of school.

I learned a lot of things from these letters. I learned that far more students than I would have ever imagined have immunocompromised people in their lives who are high-risk in regards to COVID-19 and that a great deal of them are being asked to care for younger siblings and relatives whose school is also cancelled. I was reminded of just how varied students are, with some taking this in stride and others feeling unable to leave their beds. I also stood amazed and uplifted at the overall thoughtfulness, empathy, and strength that I saw again and again from members of a generation that is often maligned by others as not having those things.

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What I Did on My First Day as an Online Teacher

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Like much of the country, today marked my first day as an online teacher. And like many other teachers out there, suddenly switching from the physical classroom to the digital one is only one small piece of what I am grappling with as I try to best prepare for the tumultuous weeks to come.

With that and the profusion of resources flying around right now (I do love how educators are sharing with each other, though the sheer quantity has been overwhelming at times), today’s post is short, but I wanted to share what I did with my students today on my first day as a digital teacher in the hopes that it might help others. It is short, but the results were both meaningful and helped me tremendously as both their teacher and in my own journey through this suddenly brave new world.

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