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Lessons Learned from COVID-19

I’ve always been a planner. As soon in my family is up on Saturday morning, I ask, “let’s plan out the day. During this pandemic, I have asked my family to “plan out the day” for the last 87 days. Yup – They are a bit sick of hearing that out of my mouth.

But planning out the day has helped me cope. Making a plan makes me feel in control, and completing the plan helps me feel productive. At the end of each day, I look over my to-do list to see that I did accomplish something, and that sense of accomplishment eases my mind. I plan because I believe how we use our time is everything, and I don’t want to waste it.

As I taught students online, I realized that learning to plan needs to be a more significant part of teaching. Do I give kids a chance to plan? Are they feeling in control of their learning, or is learning “being done to them”? Have I done everything I give my students choice and agency over their learning? If I am honest, my answer is: No, I can do better.

When I return to school, I’ll change this. I’ll end reading and writing workshop, asking kids to make plans for tomorrow. I’ll give time for kids to read their plan from the day before. And, I’ll certainly give time to celebrate making, revising, and completing the plans we created.

Kids could share their next steps and making their own “to-do” lists. The more we embed this skill in what we teach, the more kids develop agency. COVID-19 has taught many lessons, and one lesson I want kids to know is how you use your time matters – you can make decisions even when the options are limited. I want kids to see that they are in charge of how they use their time and in charge of their learning.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic.

Happy Writing!


10 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from COVID-19”

  1. Tammy, I’m with you. I need a plan. I like my to do lists for the day. I like the accomplishment (and, let’s be honest, joy in checking off items). Our students deserve that option as well. What a great lesson learned during these times: Being in charge of your time — which I often found more difficult when online!

  2. This is so important. I am also a planner, and I will keep what you say in mind with my own kids.

  3. Making a plan means you are thinking ahead and that is a skill we need to teach kids. Something to keep in mind for all occasions.

  4. I’ve done this with students when I taught third grade and am trying to remember the professional book that guided me…they had a recording sheet to track their plans. It was fabulous and jump started the next day.

  5. I love making lists … and checking things off! This was a great lesson learned — we do need to give our students time to think and plan ahead. I find this is harder to do with online learning …. too many distractions! But truthfully, then a to-do list would keep me more focused!

  6. Oh my gosh! I love this. The idea of giving the kids the opportunity, agency, power, to make their to do lists at the end of reading and writers workshop is absolutely spectacular! Thanks for sharing your idea.

    It’s so funny, I’m not always a list maker. Sometimes I am though – to remind myself of things to do, or to have a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, lol, I’ll make a list at the end of the day, that includes things I’ve done, so I can check them off and remind myself of all I did!

    Thanks again!

  7. I chuckled when I read that your family is probably tired of hearing about the plan of the day! I have been coping with a color coded post-it note to-do list. Same idea. I love the idea of empowering students by giving them some time for reflection as a closer and opener of workshop time. I love even more that you are reflecting and facing hard truths about your work with kids. You are a great model of what it looks like to “do better.”

  8. I like how reflective teachers like you share the lessons learned from the challenge of teaching/learning from home. The distance learning was certainly more successful for the kids an adult who planned their time and organised their materials well. Time- and self-management are skills for life not just for school. I hope that summer will give you some days without a plan, just for a change.

  9. You are wise and your reflection makes me a better teacher and a better human. Kids do need to learn how to plan, and you’re spot-on that it helps create agency. I’m so glad you are writing with us…I love love love your voice and wisdom.

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