“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
I think if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that important jobs can often go unnoticed. The pandemic has given everyone a new appreciation for our postal workers, janitorial staff, and grocery store clerks. Teachers have also seen a new wave of gratitude. Not everyone is equipped to homeschool their children, and it’s been encouraging to watch so many educators step up and provided for their students during this difficult time. However, teachers aren’t the only leaders in our schools.
Principals, administrators, and many others are instrumental to running a school and promoting an engaging and positive culture. Their work may not always be recognized, but it’s incredibly important for the success of the teachers and students they serve. Teachers rely on principals and administrators for support, information, and leadership. Given what we’re facing in the 20-21 school year, we need their help more than ever. So, how can these essential workers best support teachers this school year?
Encourage Rest and Rejuvenation
It may sound counterproductive, but one method administrators can use to support teachers is by ensuring they stay rested. There is certainly a lot of work to be done. Teachers need to acquaint themselves with virtual tools and create new lessons for distance learning. However, burning the candle at both ends never works. Instead, remind teachers to take time for rest and recovery.
Encourage a digital detox so they’re spending less time online and more time out in nature. Inspire them to learn something new, like a fun craft or a challenging sport. Not only does this reduce stress, but when teachers acquire new knowledge, they’re able to bring it back into the classroom and share it with their students!
Embrace Project-Based Learning
Another way to show teacher in these uncertain times is to embrace project-based learning. Project-based learning is an excellent way to promote student ownership. The lessons engage students cognitively, emotionally, and physically while encouraging students to consider real-world problems. Even in a virtual environment, project-based learning can create opportunities for hands on experimentation and investigation. Best of all, it gives an authentic context within which to integrate multiple content area standards.
For teachers, project-based learning provides a welcome reprieve. Units such as Blue Apple’s Prevent the Spread, Food for Thought, and The Dirty Truth, come supplied with all the resources a lesson needs to be memorable, meaningful, and fun. Real-world contacts bring an authenticity to the material and students are encouraged to explore beyond the boundaries of the lesson itself. In short, these projects do all the heavy lifting so teachers can focus on what they do best – Teach!
Don’t Neglect the Basics
Finally, when in doubt, it’s always good to remember the basics. This year has seen a huge shift in how we teach. There are new platforms, new tools, new strategies for engaging students remotely, but this doesn’t mean we should lose the basics. Tips and strategies for connection and collaboration tend to be universal. Even common classroom tools can find a home in distance learning.
Resources like hyperdocs and chrome extensions continue to be ideal tools for classroom management. Hyperdocs are a great way for teacher to put all the links they want to share with students in one place. That way, they’re not sending out multiple links and it’s not as easy for students to lose information. Meanwhile, Chrome extensions are fantastic for managing your classroom by saving articles for the future with extensions like Savepocket or creating interactive questions with Pear Deck.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Hopefully these three strategies will serve you well in the coming semester. If you’re looking for more ways to empower educators, you can continue this discussion by viewing our latest webinar, 8 Tips for Admins to Support Teachers with Distance and Blended Learning and downloading the corresponding resources. As always, VAI hope’s you’re staying healthy and safe in the week ahead!