Here are some pictures of a younger me to make you smile.
Where to start? Less than 12 hours ago, I learned that we will not be returning to school for the rest of the year. Saying life is challenging right now is an understatement: first I wrestled with the fact that we would be out of school until April vacation. This was followed by the unexpected need to put my dog, Boo, my companion in life who has always been there for me, to sleep. I have spent the past five days pretty much in complete isolation (albeit in an adorable little house) with no one but my stuffies to keep me company. (They're not big conversationalists.) And now, no more classes?
If we're stressed, the kids are most likely stressed, too.
Connecting with people on line, be it a remote game of Kahoot! with my students, a #langchat virtual Happy Hour, or the fabulous series of webinars Karen Rowan of Fluency Fast put together to help folks in the education field who have lost their incomes due to conference and workshop cancelations (you can still purchase them for as little as $4), has kept me from completely losing it. (OK, let's just take a look at that last sentence. Its length, complexity, and rambling nature may give you an indication of my mental state right now!)
So when I force myself to stop and breathe, I try to bring myself inward and remember one thing: Keep It Simple, Silly. These are unprecedented times, and no one really knows what to do. We don't have control over much. But we can control what we do, ensuring we're not crowding our minds and our lives. I first had this thought last week while preparing remote (simple) "classes" for my students; it has been with me since then.
Our focus right now needs to be connection, not content.
I'm going to stop here, resisting the temptation to climb on a soap box and shout at the top of my lungs. So everyone, especially teachers, K.I.S.S. DO NOT pile on the work. Less is more. We need to keep our students safe and happy right now. We have no idea what other responsibilities/tasks/burdens they have at home and we can't have the same expectations that we would in normal times.
It takes kids three to four times longer to do an assignment that it does us.
Please keep this in mind.
This is as anxiety-producing for them as it is for us. Yes, kids are resilient, but they are also sensitive. I'm lucky that I don't work in a district where administration burdens teachers with crazy assignments like detailed weekly lesson plans; I can't imagine if that were the case. I'm already distressed over the state of things, and the thought of putting my students through a similar ringer deepens the pit in my stomach.
I've been having a lot of fun creating new and engaging activities for my students. I love hearing that they are enjoying my goofy videos (and other teachers, are too!). And right now, I want them to have some fun. So let's take a step back and think outside the box. Be respectful, responsible, safe, and kind. Breathe. K.I.S.S. Bises.
Allison Litten, the 2019 VFLA TOY, teaches French at the Marion Cross School, a public K-6 school in Norwich, Vermont. This is her twentieth year teaching, and seventeenth at Marion Cross.
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