The Challenge to Teach

By MJ Ali

Recently, one of my sisters attended several online workshops for college-level online teaching support and resources. She’s been teaching online courses mixed in with her class load, and finished last semester with all-online teaching. This coming semester, she’ll be teaching 100% online, and the workshops have been very helpful and informative, and will be instrumental to successful teaching and learning.

I wondered if the level of support was being provided to K-12 teachers, and I think it’s safe to say it’s more of a treasure hunt than anything else.

Last spring, K-12 teachers were plunged into online teaching with the trial by fire method. K-12 teachers are already phenomenally resourceful professionals whose skills and ingenuity were borne out of necessity due to a systemic lack of support and funding for public school K-12.

But this pandemic is an unprecedented situation. Whether teachers are preparing for in-class, hybrid, or virtual learning, that learning and preparedness curve is quite probably like nothing they’ve had to face administratively or practically in their careers.

In-person teaching is going to look and feel very different, and trying to maintain guidelines and best practices when it comes to providing a safe, low-risk environment for the students and for themselves is no doubt going to prove exceptionally challenging. Teachers will face an added responsibility of public health policy adherence in addition to classroom curriculum.

Hybrid and virtual teaching will challenge teachers in technological ways that require expansion of systems knowledge and the ability to implement the tools provided — or, in the case of some K-12 teachers my sister knows, find tools on their own and then learn how to implement them, also on their own.

Teachers are actually going to be more isolated than ever before, with fewer resources and less support than they would have in a regular school year.

I think it’s natural for us to assume that teachers will have — or be able to find — all the information they need to meet the unprecedented challenges they face in the 2020-2021 school year. But, maybe it would be better to assume they could use some support.

Below are some resources for everyone. To all of our wonderful K-12 teachers, no matter what kind of teaching you’ll be doing this year, I hope you find the support you need to do one of the toughest jobs in the country.

Thank you to all our teachers.

 


SUPPORT AND RESOURCES

  • Five online support and resource forums for teachers listed by masterofartsinteaching.net
  • District Administration has a free K-12 resource bank during the pandemic
  • Tools for working with heightened anxiety in returning students (they focus on students with disabilities but the tools and prompts appear very universal)
  • For teachers moving online, the Online Learning Consortium has provided a guide and resources to help support their transition
  • edutopia.org has some useful tips for teachers transitioning to virtual teaching
  • Also from edutopia.org, a focus on teacher wellness addresses feeling overwhelmed, isolated and panicked, and provides practical guidelines for a positive outcome
  • EdTech speaks about technical and professional preparedness and support for online adaptation
  • common sense education has an extensive library of information, articles and resources, including professional development and advice
  • learningkeepsgoing.org has free tech for learning, webinars and podcasts, sections for teachers and parents, and an educator help desk geared specifically to COVID-19-related issues and concerns
  • Hanover Research offers a COVID-19 Resource Center of K-12 education section which includes a focus on social-emotional learning and needs for students, families, and staff

HELPING OUT

  • AdoptAClassroom.org provides a support portal with options for giving, including fine-tuning where you want to focus your donation
  • If you can find an hour per week, volunteering in your local school district is a great way to help out and app-garden starts you out with five different ways to volunteer at your local school (you can also go to your public school district home page or google volunteer k-12 and then your city or town)

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