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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.

I simply had the students write me a letter. Regular readers will know that I love letters and normally do this at the midpoint of the semester anyhow, but this time I adapted it for the situation. Here it is:

My Check-In Letter. Here is a pdf of it

Writing a letter is hardly a revolutionary idea, but I find that in times like these my instinct is to fill the uncertain space around us with reassurance and advice. And while reassurance and advice are both really important right now, for me starting with asking the students how they are managing this feels like it has created a solid platform from which to teach from in this new space. So many students have already been thankful that a teacher was asking after them and taking their thoughts, worries, and needs into consideration, and many have offered some of the best suggestions I’ve seen so far. Plus, even more than usual when I have students write me, I’ve gotten a number of surprising answers that have helped me to understand just how varied student reaction to all of this is and how I might best be able to help them through it.

I hope this helps to give you ideas, and I hope everyone is doing well.

Yours in teaching,


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7 thoughts on “What I Did on My First Day as an Online Teacher

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