5 ideas for supporting teachers during COVID

It’s even more crucial to celebrate teacher’s success in online learning, assistant principal says

It may seem counterintuitive, but COVID has so disrupted K-12 education that building leaders and teachers could look at 2020-2021 as their first year in the profession, says one administrator.

That’s because online learning is a brand new instructional setting for most educators, says Adam Brown, assistant principal of the Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

“The routines and rituals they had for each school year have been flipped upside down,” Brown says. “Now, it’s about making sure they’re comfortable with the technology aspect, making sure they establish class norms for students and providing individual support as issues pop up.”

This school year, it’s even more crucial to celebrate teacher’s success in online learning and allow them to present and share new ideas with colleagues as they explore new approaches to remote instruction.

Administrators in Brown’s district are offering a wide range of professional development sessions that allow teachers to target specific skills, such as conducting online assessments and using the Flipgrid platform.

Administrators have also set weekly goals for teachers. These benchmarks include things such as helping students access documents and setting up a system for how students will raise their hands in a virtual class.

“The key thing is to acknowledge the progress teachers are making,” Brown says. “The trap you can fall into is wanting to jump on the 20 different things a teacher can be doing better rather than focus on what they’re doing well and continuing that feedback loop.”

One Virginia Beach administrator has been guiding teachers in creating a sense of community for students. This administrator has encouraged teachers to share their passions and hobbies—such as playing an instrument, knitting and video games—with students.

To this end, teachers have been supported in launching virtual clubs. A healthy competition has emerged among teachers who are trying to get the most students to sign up for their activities, Brown says.

Some of these sessions have even been turned into how-to videos.

Finally, administrators are making sure teachers who are working from home are able to unplug themselves from the 24/7 virtual world. The district has created a series of information sessions on staff wellness and self-care.

“We’re relearning how to disconnect from work and balance ourselves in a world that’s continuously being updated,” Brown says.