Resources and Reflections for Teaching Through Coronavirus

by | 03.16.20

Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher in Johnston, IA. She is the author of the advice column 'Ask Sarah' and was the 2010 Teacher of the Year, as well as the Teacher Laureate for the Teaching Channel. Connect with her on Twitter at @SarahBWessling.

As educators, our work is complex and difficult under the best of circumstances. The uncertainty and fear that COVID-19 brings means responding to a bunch of new and evolving challenges every day.

Above all, I think the most important message we can give to students and fellow teachers is this: You are important, and we are going to take care of you. At the end of the day, we are all a part of the school community, and we have to look out for each other. This is hard, but you’re not alone. There are places to turn for support. 

I wanted to share a couple resources and reflections with you: 

  • The Centers for Disease Control published a guide to keep our workplaces, schools and homes safe. As often as we can, we need to utilize scientific, research-based, authoritative sources of information. You can see it here:
  • For the latest information, look to your districts and local governments for their latest advisories, and know that you can direct families there, too. You don’t have to become an expert, but you can provide support and assurance.
  • To me, effective planning in our classrooms also means thinking ahead. If I have to move to a virtual classroom, how will I continue to facilitate learning? What tools will I use to share lessons and class materials? How will my school ensure that every student has equitable access to virtual learning? As you’re going about your day-to-day, in the backs of our minds or in pockets of space, we can be thinking about this, too. Like so much of teaching, preparation matters a great deal – and then we stay flexible and we learn.

Right now, students are understandably worried. And for many, school isn’t only where they learn and play, but a source of salvation and meals. I’ve found that ignoring the uncertainty set loose by the virus only adds to anxiety. In every case, we want to do what we can to de-escalate fear by sharing information that can help our students manage stress, stay safe and healthy. 

For grade-specific tips for talking about and teaching COVID-19, check out this resource from Scholastic Classroom Magazines >

We have to recognize that it’s ok for teachers to be scared and worried, too. We have to look out for each other and support colleagues who might need extra help right now. Remember that it’s okay to reach out – and that taking care of ourselves is taking care of our students. 

For advice for managing your stress during an infectious disease outbreak, click here >

Let me encourage you: Because you are a teacher, you’re an expert at being flexible. At being intuitive. At putting student safety at the center of decision-making. You can tackle the challenges that come with these disruptions using the expertise you have as an educator. 

I see you. I value you. The work you are doing is so important. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, and reach out to your network if you need support. 

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