I was a little nervous about writing this letter. I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want mean hate mail.
I’m writing this because I love teachers and I have a huge heart for serving the teaching community. I hope you know that everything I am about to write comes from a place of love.
The thing is, I keep seeing teachers in my Facebook groups who are totally overwhelmed and working 12 hour days.
I get it. Everything is new. You don’t have the resources or training that you need. This is all so unexpected.
The reality is that you are going to have some tough days. Give yourself permission to have those days.
But I am worried about you. I don’t want ALL of your days to be spent staring at the computer. I don’t want you to cry every day. I don’t want you to work more now than you did in the classroom.
It’s just not healthy.
So this is my advice:
Lower your expectations. And then lower them again.
Lower your expectations for yourself. I know you are an amazing educator who differentiates, tracks data, and values hands-on learning opportunities. The thing is that you can’t, and shouldn’t, try to do everything that you did in the classroom.
Lower your expectations for students. They are bright kids, but they have had their entire world flipped upside down. They may be living with a family that is in fear because of finances or their health. There may be more arguing at home. They may be babysitting their siblings or cousins. They might be at a babysitter. They might be struggling to share one computer with their entire family.
They will do their best, but that will look very different for every student.
If we do too much, we will be overwhelmed and anxious.
If we ask students to do too much, they will be overwhelmed and anxious.
I know you would be doing more if none of this had happened and you were teaching in the classroom today. But find a way to be at peace with doing less.
Assign less. Use fewer tech tools. Ask less of your students.
This is an example of the MOST I would consider assigning a third grader:
Reading: Daily read one short passage and answer two questions from THIS resource.
Math: Daily complete one math journal prompt from THIS resource.
Writing: Daily watch a writing lesson and complete the independent task from THIS resource.
Grammar: Once per week watch a video lesson and complete a set of task. cards from THIS resource.
One fun and optional video call per week.
I would not send specific science and social studies assignments if I didn’t HAVE to. Students will read passages in reading that hit on some science and social studies topics and they will be doing an animal report in writing.
This would probably take most students about 60-90 minutes per day. That’s enough in my opinion.
Teachers, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you try to sprint, and work long hours every day, you will tire out. You will be burnt out by the end of the week. But your students need you. This is going to last for longer than we want and so you must take care of yourself.
So, I challenge you to come up with a reasonable schedule for yourself. Include a couple hours in the morning to plan and touch base with students. Include another couple of hours in the afternoon to grade and touch base with students.
But then, close your computer and walk away.
You don’t have to answer emails the moment they come in. You can limit it to during your office hours. It will be ok!
Do something for you. Play on the floor with your toddler. Read a book that you have been wanting to read. Go for long walks or bike rides. Take a bubble bath and paint your nails. Cook a new or a favorite recipe with your spouse.
Teachers are always complaining about burn out and the lack of time to rest. Take the time now!
I love teachers and their strong desire to give their students the very best. But sometimes, less is best.
Keep being not so wimpy!