Teaching in a New Normal - Ask, Listen, Learn

Teaching in a New Normal

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week though it might not feel like it.   

After years of running my own blog, an educational consulting business, and freelancing, I had no plans to return to teaching. However, a strange twist of fate landed me back in the classroom this past fall and suddenly I found myself welcoming the challenge of teaching middle school computer science.  

Parenting a middle and high schooler gave me a new kind of confidence I didn’t have during my early years of teaching elementary ages but there was still a lot to get used to. As we started getting glimpses of spring here in the Washington, DC area, I felt like I was finally getting into a groove. I settled into a rhythm teaching the new-to-me curriculum.  

I discovered I enjoyed being back in the classroom more than I ever imagined and then with less than 24 hours’ notice, schools closed. 

Pandemic induced crisis schooling is something no one could have predicted when the academic year began. We had no idea that this extraordinary historical event would force us to teach in a dramatically different way. Although none of us signed up for this, we persevere for our students.  

We’ve met the challenge of transforming our classrooms into virtual ones, maintaining connections with thumbnail images of students seen through Google Meet and Zoom, continuing to provide meaningful distance learning experiences and checking in with students to ensure they’re adjusting and staying safe. It’s not at all the same as daily face to face instruction but we’re doing our best.  

We’ve used a gentle approach while exhibiting kindness and compassion to all students, but have we extended ourselves the same courtesies? 

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week though it might not feel like it.  

Typical expressions of appreciation like staff luncheons, floral bouquets, sweet handwritten notes from students, and gifts from the PTA that make us feel loved are absent. We hope what we’re doing is appreciated but we don’t see our students and colleagues to get regular positive reinforcement that we’re so used to in our jobs.  

Even though these expressions of appreciation from our kids, parents, and administrators aren’t possible this year, the Ask, Listen, Learn team wants you to know YOU are still appreciated. We recognize your hard work during this challenging time and wanted to let you know how much we appreciate you today and every other day of the year!  

We know how invested you are in always finding the best resources for student instruction and the skilled ways you lead classroom conversations in your role as a teacher. We appreciate your dedication to your students, the way you support their academic and social growth, and your commitment to using Ask, Listen, Learn materials to teach them the importance of saying no to underage drinking.  

As a fellow educator and member of the Responsibility.org Educational Advisory Board, a simple thank you never seems like enough, but we want you to know that we’re forever grateful for all that you do as a teacher, and we hope to welcome you back to the classroom soon. 

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 Leticia is a teacher and the founder of Tech Savvy Mama, a site that assists parents in navigating the ever-changing world of technology. She is a columnist for Parents.com where she shares quick technology tips and resources through her Tech Savvy Parents, writes for Babble Tech, and is a contributor to Scholastic Parents’ Learning Toolkit. Leticia enjoys the distinction of having been Parents Magazine’s Editors’ Pick for Best Tech Blog, Babble’s Top 100 Mom Blogs and named as one of the 50 Top Twitter Moms by Babble. Leticia is a wife and mother of two children and is also a member of Resonsibility.org Educational Advisory Board.