Teacher Talk Tuesday

Tuesday, 28 April 2020
There are so many things swirling through my mind that I could post about today.  But I think the biggest one at the forefront of our minds is this Pandemic and how it has affected not only us, but our students (aka “our kids”) as well.

Our official school closing began March 16th.  It seemed sudden and nobody really had any idea what was coming.  We hugged the kids as they left school Friday, March 13th.  Told them we loved them.  We will see you in a few weeks.  They got on the bus, we waved goodbye, and the halls felt so empty!  It was surreal.  Everything felt out of place.  It was empty like they left for the summer, but we knew it wasn’t time.  So many things were left undone.  So many projects left behind (my classroom is still full of leprechaun traps we didn’t get to “set” the following Monday).  School supplies in their desk.  It’s sooooo sad. 😢

We started Non-Traditional Instruction Days (NTI Days) on the following Monday, March 16th.  We had no idea what was coming in the days and weeks ahead.  I felt so lost and confused that first week.  My NTI Days were already planned and scheduled to post on Google Classroom daily, so what was I to do with all that time?!  Mostly I wandered around my house lost and confused and unsure of what to do with my extra time.  I felt empty.  Of course, I had to answer the occasional parent question about logging in and such, but for the most part, they knew what to do.  I was so unsettled that I couldn’t even sit down and enjoy a good Netflix binge session! 😂

Luckily, I made it through that first week and got myself in gear.  I made some personal goals for myself and that helped get me motivated.  Then, I started thinking…..what else can I do for my class?  If I’m feeling this way, I’m sure all the kids are feeling this way.  How can I make this better for them?  And teacher mode kicked in.  I ordered a ring light from Amazon and started recording daily stories for them.  Although I was staying in contact with the parents through phone and messaging, I wanted to actually reach out to my students.  So, I started sending snail mail (such a lost art that they have thoroughly enjoyed these last few weeks!), video chats, Show and Tell on Zoom and Google Meet….anything to interact with them!  My school staff even pulled together and made an awesome YouTube video for our students, which you can watch here if you are ready for some TikTok entertainment!

I do not have all the best answers during this trying time.  Kentucky schools (that's where I am) are still "in session" and we are participating in Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Days, which is basically Distance Learning, until May 14th (for my school district).  I have seen you guys doing so many amazing things out there and I commend you for that!  Those of you who are still being required to teaching actual lessons to kindergarteners (and all other grades) on Zoom and being observed and try to do virtual assemblies—you are truly amazing and I’m thankful I’m not in your shoes!  This hasn’t been easy on any of us.

On a positive note, I would like to share some of things that I have been doing that may help you out and give you some ideas to continue your student's learning.

1)   The Kinder Life on TPT has saved me!  I felt like the NTI (Non-Traditional Instruction) work I was assigning my students was becoming monotonous.  I knew they had to be getting bored and restless of the same things everyday!  I discovered this amazing FREEBIE from The Kinder Life-Amy McDonald on TPT and it changed everything.  My students were actually doing work!  It gave them some variety and fun activities to do with their families.  They were staying engaged.  I added a sheet of my own to give them some direction in the activities and some goals to work toward that would get them ready for 1st grade, but overall it made the NTI work a little more exciting and fun for them so they didn’t feel like they were being tortured at home.  Here is a link to that FREEBIE so you can check it out and see how you can use it for your own class.  I will also include an image of what I sent home with my students so you can see the work they actually did each day.
2)   Everyone loves receiving mail, so I started coming up with some fun projects to include in SNAIL MAIL!  I found some amazing mural art projects on Art Projects for Kids that could be divided into several pieces (like a puzzle) and printed them.  I mailed one piece to each student, they colored it and mailed it back to me, and then I could piece together our masterpiece!  I finally got the pieces back to update the picture, so here is what ours looks like!  So far, I've gotten all positive feedback and it has been so much fun!  Getting fun projects like this has my students so excited about getting mail that they are now writing letters and drawing pictures to each other!  So, it's a bonus to have them work on those writing skills!  Here is a link to the collage pictures so you can check them out.  There are some FREEBIES on this site as well.
3)   My most favorite project that I have sent home during this trying time is the Flat Teacher Project!  I’m sure most of you have read “Flat Stanley” and maybe even participated in your own project with Flat Stanley.  Well, I put a little spin on it and made a Flat Teacher that looks just like me! My students LOVED receiving it in the mail and doing activities at home “with me,” then sharing them on social media for the world to see!  I created a FREEBIE on TPT if you’d like to try this super fun project with your class!

It's so exciting to see all the adventures that my students and their siblings took Flat Mrs. Cassady on! 

I know today’s post was a long one and I have so much more I could say, but I'll save that for another day.  If you want to share some of your ideas that you have been doing with your class during the Coronavirus Pandemic, please go check out my Facebook page and comment in the thread.  It’s a great way for us to work together and share ideas!  Stay in and stay healthy!  We don’t want to spread the 'rona!

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