April 16, 2020
Are you a high school English teacher who’s feeling overwhelmed by suddenly having to teach remotely during this global pandemic? Have you had a good ol’ ugly cry right before a Zoom meeting with your coworkers? Know that you’re not alone in this. And I’m here to help.
I created this new content for my own students, and thought it might help you out and save you some time.
There’s NO cost or e-mail collection for these resources. This is a no-strings attached gift to my fellow secondary English teachers.
And be sure to check back in. New content drops every Wednesday while classes are suspended in BC, Canada.
While classes are suspended, my superintendent takes the time to create weekly video messages. These are for students, parents and staff. I watched this video to kick off my at-home work week and found his message reassuring.
“It’s not business as usual. We cannot expect that the same content will be covered. We cannot expect that assessment and grading will continue as normal. And we cannot place the same expectations on students and families when we don’t have our students for the regular 4-5 hours a day.
Online learning will not replace the classroom teacher and supports from educational assistants and numerous non-enrolling teachers.
Online learning is a response to a pandemic, to keep people apart, and manage the best we can. We simply cannot take our routine practices and put them online as if students were still in our classes.
It will look and feel different.Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney
During I’m a full-time English + Art teacher + Indigenous Graduation Advocate. Because teachers seem to like knowing these things, I have my BA in English and Art, BC Teaching Certificate, and MA in Adult Education and Community Studies.
I just added it up, and I have (gasp) 15 years of teaching experience in both mainstream and alternative programs first in Port Alberni, then in Surrey BC.
On the evenings and weekends, I create content for lifestyle brands and destinations as we share our family’s life and adventures together.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can turn your own social media into a profitable side-hustle, you can read more HERE.
I’m mostly known for being a community-minded teacher, influential storyteller, and relatable working mom. For this, I’ve been honoured with: UNICEF BC Teacher of the Year, Vancouver Island’s 20 Under 40 Business and Community Achievement Award, Smartwater ‘Smartgirl’ and Vancouver Mom Top 30 Blogger.
One of my proudest roles includes being a volunteer ambassador for BC Children’s Hospital to help promote their Snowball Fight for Kids and Jean Up campaigns.
Since the COVID-19 Pandemic suspended classes, I’m attempting to teach my classes online while homeschooling my son who’s in grade 2.
The expression on my face says EVERYTHING. It’s really friggen’ hard.
Trauma Informed Education is an important foundational layer of our schools during the best of times. It’s even more vital now that our classes are suspended indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school I teach at, South Surrey/ White Rock Learning Centre, has a common goal of becoming a trauma-informed school. (I say becoming, as it’s an ongoing journey not a finite destination).
Last year, we worked with the Community Resilience Initiative to become certified in Trauma Informed Practices.
Level 1 introduces CRI’s capacity-building framework for building resilience. The key objective is to provide information about identifying and responding to trauma with evidence-based resilience strategies when working with an audience whose trauma history may not be known.
In a nutshell. we learned about Adverse Childhood Experiences (also known as ACES) and how to incorporate Tools for Resilience into our everyday interactions with students.
I learned that teachers can’t assume that students aren’t coming to our classes with high ACE scores. (Yes, that’s a double negative). To reframe this, teachers need to understand that ALL students will benefit from learning to be more resilient.
After this Trauma-Informed Practices training, we created our four school goals:
BELONGING, RESILIENCE, HOPE + LEARNING.
Fast forward to the end of March and our communities summoned to a state of high alert. Over our spring break, a friend shared this article with me: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Teaching Through Coronavirus and it struck a chord.
“When people are facing stress and difficult life circumstances, it can particularly affect three areas: a sense of safety, feelings of connectedness and feelings of hope. In each of these areas, educators can make an impact. “Teaching Tolerance Staff
“While not all families have a history of exposure to trauma, children with identified histories of trauma may be especially vulnerable to the impact of significant changes in schedule, routine and expectations that come with social distancing, canceled classes, remote learning and reliance on caregivers for academics. “Teaching Tolerance Staff
“Rates of domestic violence and child abuse have increased during the COVID-19 crisis. Stress and increased isolation are risk factors for abuse.”Teaching Tolerance Staff
Because I have awesome and helpful friends, another one shared this article that outlines the Four Core Priorities for Trauma-Informed Distance Learning:
With these words in mind, I started to consider what my own trauma-informed remote teaching could look like.
I also quickly realized that trying to plan and support students remotely without access to daycare for my son makes things EXTRA challenging. These resources needed to account for the fact that I’ll have distractions every 5 minutes. I’m home with my chatterbox son, who’s legitimately missing his friends and classmates.
After looking at several other platforms, I settles on Google Drive. It’s far from fancy but is an easy place to upload PDF’s and then share the link with my students. There are no special passwords required or apps to download, which I saw as major barriers.
These are not my ideal lessons. Of course, it would be great to have a full-fledged course website. And an interactive chat for students to share their projects and engage with each other.
Less is more right now.
What this is: an emergency stop-gap measure for me to keep connected with my students during an unprecedented time of distance + trauma.
This is going to get me vilified by some OG English teachers, but there are no exemplars or detailed rubrics here. That’s not what students need right now.
That said, these resources were designed with the curricular competencies of reading, writing, listening, thinking and speaking. There’s also a 4 point proficiency scale stamped onto the bottom, outlining EMERGING, DEVELOPING, PROFICIENT, EXTENDING.
“Slow and steady, caring and connected is the way we need to be”– Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney
We can ultimately judge the effectiveness of new content based on our students’ responses, right? I’m pleased to share that I got back about a dozen assignments (pretty good odds given the current crisis) and most were so thoughtful and well done.
To give you a glimpse, here are some of my favourite excerpts from the Week One prompts:
“My current outfit is called ‘Quarantine: Day 24’ and it’s made up of sweatpants and an oversized shirt. (Wait, that’s what it’s been everyday). I usually dedicate a day to something. It could be a painting day, a Sims 4 day, a Netflix day, anything I end up wanting to do. “
“I think maybe everyone needed a little bit of a break to be introspective and change for the better, It’s a pity it took a pandemic to do it though “
“I’m very grateful to have so many people out there looking out for me, COVID-19 has opened up my eyes to the great people I have surrounded myself with over the years. Maybe once this quarantine is over I’ll be able to get my life on the right track for the first time in a long while. Hopefully I will graduate this year, have money saved up, and have the relationships I need to progress after high school. Everything’s coming together.”
“My goal is to do about an hour of physical activity everyday. Whether it be playing basketball in the driveway, walking my dogs, or going for strolls in the neighbourhood. This has helped me to feel a bit better and it distracts me from whatever else is happening in the world. This good weather has really helped lift my spirits and has made my usual symptoms a lot better. This is a learning experience for all of us, but we should all remember that we are lucky to be safe at home, and that this pandemic happened during a time of technology that really helps us to stay connected with others.”
“With all this doom and gloom going on recently has helped me appreciate how good we have it compared to other parts of the world. I’m trying to keep a grateful perspective. “
“Entertain yourself! Learn new things, do new things, this is a chance to take the time to do things you may have always wanted to do; work on yourself, become healthier and happier. Lastly, you have the internet! Friends and family are clicks away. Obviously, it isn’t the same as visiting them in real life, but it’s better that not having anything. “
“I feel a positive outcome of this could be that people might appreciate what they have more and the people around them. My goal for everyday is to get some sun as it has been so nice out recently.”
And be sure to check back in. New content drops every Wednesday while classes are suspended in BC, Canada. Feel free to use what you’d like and make it your own.
This is just the approach I’ve taken in when teaching in this crisis.
There’s NO one right way of offering emergency-online instruction during this unprecedented time.
The most important thing right now is that we’re gentle with ourselves and with each other. We’re all doing the best we can.
“Remember that, as adults, we are the best predictors of how our students and children are doing; they are watching and listening to us. When we take care of ourselves, we’re showing them how they can take care of themselves, too.”Teaching Tolerance Staff
This probably goes without saying, but all opinions are my own.