A better way to split the focus between kids on Zoom and kids in the classroom.

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

In the transition to remote learning, educators are doing more work than ever before. We are re-learning how to do our jobs, pivoting between instructional models, and constantly innovating our practice to provide the best quality instruction to our learners.

Many of us are faced with difficult challenges, and at times, we just do not have the mental space to consider and overcome them. I feel that, because that’s exactly where I was last month.

Schools and districts around the world are trying to…

This time of year, there are a lot of endings. The end of a school year. The end of an elementary, middle, or high school experience. The end of a college career.

Usually these endings are met with celebrations and new beginnings. There’s pomp, circumstance, and a lot of love. But, as we all know, this year is different. We aren’t able to have the celebrations, graduations, and nervous excitement that comes with these endings. We can’t do our end of the year carnivals, bus waves, and send offs. And, honestly, that sucks. …

“Grades during this time should be used as feedback instead of instruments of compliance.”

The Illinois Governor, J. B. Pritzker, made this statement when announcing that schools across the state would be closed until April 30th. Upon hearing it, I was proud that our state would be prioritizing learning and growth over grading. As I reflected on it further, the same thought kept returning to me.

Shouldn’t this be our approach all the time?

Those fully invested in the gradeless (or evidence-based reporting or standards-based reporting) movement use ‘grades’ in this way all the time. Many see in students a…

Classroom and school culture are massive components of our jobs as educators.

It’s integral that we cultivate an environment where our students and staff feel comfortable and supported. Because then they are able to learn and work most effectively.

We’ve each spent a lot of time this school year building these wonderful classroom and school cultures. And now that many of us are prohibited from being in our school buildings and in that environment, we’ve got to find new ways to connect with our students.

Maintaining our relationships with students is more important now than ever before. Many of our…

We are living through a crazy time.

That’s an understatement, for sure. But I’m not sure how else to put it. Everything is so uncertain and changing by the minute, that by the time I finish writing this, things will have evolved.

In a video I recorded for my students, I told them that we have nothing to compare this to. That it’s a completely new situation, unlike anything we’ve experienced before. And that is absolutely true.

For me, my anxiety has been on high. I’ve been cycling between feeling isolated because of social distancing, feeling grateful to have a…

Recently, I was asked a question on the Planning Period podcast.

“What do you think is the biggest problem in education?”

I responded quickly and with one word: inequity.

I say this because I’ve been studying how education impacts the social mobility of our students. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the subject of economics. Specifically, how this branch of the social sciences discusses the influence of education.

And, while I’d like to think that it is “the great equalizer” and that a good education will elevate people to a more successful future, the truth is pretty…

This year has been hard.

Not only have my husband and I been in a holding pattern, but I’ve also been struggling to find my place and my own direction. I’m constantly plagued by questions. Where are we headed? What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? How do I want to make an impact on the world? How can I affect the future?

And, the most damaging of all… Is it enough?

As educators, we watch the career trajectories of those around us. The expectations are endless, from going back to get your Master’s, to…

What, exactly, is the purpose of grading with points and percentages?

I was on the phone with my dad today, which is our Wednesday tradition, and we were having a conversation about education. It’s pretty typical for me to share what I’m up to with teaching and learning, and he usually has some input. He’s an incredibly fiery and vocal guy, clocking in at 5'5", so you could say we have a few similarities.

My dad is not a teacher or in the educational field, but he coached basketball for many years. You could say it’s his passion. He worked…

Close your door, and do what’s best for kids.

I hear this sometimes. I’ve said this before. And from what I’ve gathered, the sentiment is not all that uncommon.

Amidst all the district initiatives, required testing, and things we have to do, educators know when practices are becoming detrimental to our students. We instinctively know when things start to harm instead of help, and we do what we can to combat what we can. From my understanding, that’s where this phrase comes from. I see it as misguided.

I do not think we should continue practices that are harmful to students because we were told to. Not at all…

Our voices are powerful things.

Whether we express them verbally in person, through our words in writing, or any other mode of communication, they hold weight.

They can be used to spread joy and positivity or to breed a negative message.

In either case, they have great power.

I was reminded recently of a TED talk where Clint Smith discusses the Danger of Silence. It reinvigorated the idea that our voices are valuable. That they matter. That they are necessary.

We need to use them. We need to amplify them. We need them to make great change.

I’ve spent…

Katelynn Giordano

Author of Curriculum Coffee, a written shot of espresso for educators. Sixth grade language arts teacher, writer, coffee enthusiast & cat lady.

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