A team of teacher educators dug deep to find out how teachers motivated themselves to meet the challenges of remote learning during COVID

2020 has been a tough year to be a PreK-12 teacher. As spring was beginning with all the promise of the final push of the year, schools nationwide abruptly shut down. Teachers, sometimes over the course of a weekend, had to shift to remote teaching while at the same time navigating their own quarantine experience.

Our team of researchers, all former elementary and secondary teachers who are now teacher educators, saw this as a moment in educational history that had to be captured–and so we asked teachers these questions: What are your top 5 issues? How are you problem-solving? On who or what are you relying for help?

Related content: America’s great remote learning experiment

Our survey was open from May 4-May 31, 2020. Using the power of Facebook friends and family and our email network we shared and sent our survey to any teacher who responded yes to our posting (or our Facebook friends’ reposting). We heard from over 700 teachers in 40 different states.

While the challenges were many, the ways in which teachers exhibited their resiliency spoke to the intelligence and creativity of our nation’s educators. It is becoming clear that there are a number of effective practices of teachers who successfully supported and taught our children and their families. These are their practices and their voices.

2020 has been a tough year to be a PreK-12 teacher. As spring was beginning with all the promise of the final push of the year, schools nationwide abruptly shut down. Teachers, sometimes over the course of a weekend, had to shift to remote teaching while at the same time navigating their own quarantine experience.

Our team of researchers, all former elementary and secondary teachers who are now teacher educators, saw this as a moment in educational history that had to be captured–and so we asked teachers these questions: What are your top 5 issues? How are you problem-solving? On who or what are you relying for help?

Our survey was open from May 4-May 31, 2020. Using the power of Facebook friends and family and our email network we shared and sent our survey to any teacher who responded yes to our posting (or our Facebook friends’ reposting). We heard from over 700 teachers in 40 different states.

While the challenges were many, the ways in which teachers exhibited their resiliency spoke to the intelligence and creativity of our nation’s educators. It is becoming clear that there are a number of effective practices of teachers who successfully supported and taught our children and their families. These are their practices and their voices.

1. Teachers were collaborators. For so many teachers, education and community went hand-in-hand. This spirit was on full display as teachers reached out to each other to brainstorm, troubleshoot, create resources, talk through their trial and error processes, and collaborate.

“I work with a fabulous team. We collaborate and share the tasks of making and posting assignments. I can always ask for help from them.” (Washington, Grade 3)

Though they were no longer down the hall from colleagues, successful models of meeting the diverse needs of learners involved teachers who continued to work together to ensure that students had access to the resources they needed.

“I have also been working closely with the Special Ed Department to make sure all students on Ed. Plans can access material, and it is modified to their needs.” (Massachusetts, Grade 4)

Many teachers collaborated beyond their circle to work with teachers around the country and around the world. They connected with other educators through social media to get ideas, forming their own virtual professional learning communities. One high-school teacher from Pennsylvania even mentioned that she joined a Twitter professional learning network “for inspiration and support.”

“I am working with other colleagues at my school as well as joining groups on social networking sites to discuss solutions.” (Florida, Grade 3)

Other important collaborators for teachers were the parents and caretakers of the children with whom they work. Teachers made meaningful and purposeful connections with families, demonstrating their care for the role of families and their students.Teachers put forth intensive efforts to connect and communicate with families throughout the school building closures. Teaching, unsurprisingly, became about so much more than instruction.

“I changed my focus to building connections and supporting families in need.” (Connecticut, PreK)

“I have begun sending out an individualized email to each student (copying parents) checking in on them, praising their accomplishments and encouraging them to work hard.” (Virginia, Grade 7)

“I’m learning with my families as we go and try[ing] to set realistic goals to accomplish each day.” (Illinois, Grade 7)

2. Teachers sought balance. Teachers faced extended hours teaching, reaching out to students and their families, learning new technologies and researching curricular resources better suited to the online platform. Many teachers also had families they were caring for at home and even their own children were engaged in remote learning. Teachers discussed the ways they attended to their health and well-being; simply turning off their screens all played a vital role.
source: Read More, eSchool News

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