What's Saving My Life Right Now

Hey, friends! Okay, I know this title: "What's Saving my Life Right Now" sounds a bit dramatic, but. . . I feel like I've been living in a hole for the last 5 weeks and only keeping my head above water because of what I'm about to share!

All I can say is thank goodness for like-minded, brilliant, creative friends! Knowing how time-consuming regular teaching is, not to mention remote teaching, one of my teaching besties, Claudia & I have committed to walking every morning BEFORE school! We are still in quarantine here in California, so we each walk in our own neighborhoods while chatting on the phone. Not only has she been an amazing support system for school-related issues, but we also are both caring for elderly parents and are a listening ear. We hold each other accountable for getting out of bed and moving every day. Teacher self-care is SO important during these stressful times! Here are some glimpses of my walks. Appreciate the little things!

For organization, my friend, Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 is SO good at learning then teaching about technology. You need to follow her on Instagram; her stories have tons of tips for building a Google Site, navigating Schoology, and shortcuts to make your life easier! She has been SUCH a timesaver and inspiration!
I couldn't have prepared for distance learning without my friend Susie at The Panicked Teacher ! Not only is she an amazing teacher, but she creates THE cutest and useful materials! She created all those buttons on my class website above plus the virtual bulletin boards below! Check out her TpT store HERE. I was wondering how to simulate bulletin boards and displaying student work while we are virtual. These bulletin boards and library have been perfect, as parents have easy access to them, whereas they might not have stopped into our classroom to see them in "normal" times.
It took many trials of figuring out the best workspace, but I finally dragged home my desktop from school plus my laptop so I can see when I'm sharing my screen during Zoom. Having 30 students plus support staff, I have to use 2 screens to see everyone! I used to set up in the dining room with a whiteboard but then had to clear the table every night for dinner! So I set up a 6-foot table in our living room, complete with ring light, document camera, and this desk caddy. Being in the living room is not ideal either but we're making it work! Does your set-up look as crazy as mine?
Another life saver: I was always losing track of what I was teaching next when live!! (I seem to be more distracted these days. . .) I have an agenda when I share the screen (similar to our Daily Schedule when at school) Now within the same slides, everything I am going to teach for the day is in there, in order! Now even if I get distracted, I click and the next topic or activity appears! Such a simple concept but it has changed my stress level!
One of my biggest concerns with beginning the year with distance learning was getting to know my students and cultivating our classroom community. In the spring, when we went to remote teaching, morning meeting was already established with all my students I knew so well.  We've always started each day on the rug, with morning meeting. My friend, Tammy from Tarheelstate Teacher has made all her Morning Meeting sets digital!! They are AMAZING!! Not only can I display concepts and type directly on the anchor charts while we are discussing over Zoom, but each set comes with a student journal! Parents have said they are so impressed with the deep thinking their child is doing and since all of it is accessible digitally, parents are actually looking at their work! Click HERE to download the Belonging Morning Meeting set for FREE!1
STEM or STEAM challenges are always one of my students' favorite activities and learning the engineering design process is so important. How to do this remotely if students don't have materials that I would have usually supplied? My brilliant friend & STEM guru, Kerry from Feel Good Teaching has revamped many of her STEM challenges to a digital format! They worked SO well; kids can take photos of each step of the build and reflect on their design. They wrote so much more than they usually do on paper! Kerry has a YouTube channel that has gazillion helpful videos on how to implement STEM!
Phew! Thanks for reading all the way through this LONG post but truly, I could not be as effective right now without the help of so many! There's more of course, but for now these are saving my life! It takes a village!

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  1. Wonderful and informative post. Love your student art. You’ve really been going through some tough times. Hopefully things will get better very soon.

    1. Thanks, Deann! We have a wonderful art teacher who has been making teaching videos for our students!

  2. Hi Kathie!
    True, Claudia is indeed an inspirational friend. Thank you for sharing these sanity-saver ideas and links to your "support groups"! I am teaching preservice teaching candidates now and will be passing along your realistic advice, resources, links and blogs so my students will also have these supplemental resources to be prepared to navigate this new normal (although many hope it is temporary!). With this information they will have more great tools to be organized and prepared for virtual or in-person instruction. Hang in there and know that your insight and suggestions are appreciated by many! -Carol

    1. Awww thanks, Carol! I'm so glad you're teaching pre-service teachers; you're perfect for this role! I hope this info will be helpful for them!

  3. Wow Kathie...I knew that your classroom was amazing before the pandemic, but it is a testament to your perseverance that you have been able to keep the same caliber of teaching over the Internet. Thanks for sharing your resource links so that other teachers may also benefit from these remarkable teachers. Hang in there, Vicky