We are teaching in a pandemic. I am teaching first graders who are learning from home. I have decided to use the SOLC as a place to reflect on this experience. I hope this reflection will help me become a better teacher, a better learner, a better literacy coach, and a better person. Maybe it will help others too.
31 Things I’ve Learned from Being a Remote Grade 1 Teacher
In an earlier post, I started to ask myself these questions:
After this storm is over….
Who will I be?
How will I carry forward all that I’ve learned, all that I’ve experienced, into the next phase?
What will I hold on to?
What will I let go of?
What have I learned?
How will I be better?
This afternoon I had my spring parent-teacher conferences, and I found some answers to the “How will I carry forward all that I’ve learned?” and “What will I hold on to?”
Now granted, the parent-teacher relationships one develops as a distance learning teacher are quite different from those of teachers who work with children who are in school while their parents are at home or at work. As a distance learning teacher you know the parents and families very well (sometimes too well). You know their habits, how they interact with their children and other adults in the home; even how they treat the cats and dogs. You know what they wear during the day and how they handle crises – always rather telling.
But remember….they also know us pretty intimately! They know our good days and our hard days, what we wear (and how often we wear the same shirt or sweater), and how we handle crises – always rather telling.
Today’s conferences were more like conversations around a dinner table. I shared my observations, and the parents shared theirs. After all, they are watching their children in the process of learning, just like I am. They are true partners in this work. I want to hold on to that.
Then came the part of the conference when I share the books children are reading and the writing and math work they are producing. I quickly realized that my parents were the ones who took pictures and sent me the student work. I realized that my parents are the ones who pick up our bi-weekly book bags. They know exactly what their children are reading. They have seen the work their children are producing, and they’ve seen how they are producing it. So the conversations were different. We were sharing our observations. They asked good questions. I shared my thoughts. They shared theirs. We were partners. I want to hold on to that.
So as I think about what we might want to do as we all return to in person school, I want to find ways to create true partnerships with parents and I want to make sure they are seeing more of what their children’s learning process looks like. I also want them to see more of their children’s work, especially the work in process. Then we can have authentic conversations about student learning. Then we can collaborate on setting goals and supporting all of our children. That’s worth holding on to.