Things are changing & many things are uncertain. In these times, stopping to pivot may be a better choice than change. Take a moment to see what is needed before making a move. Every day is a PD day. #myPDtoday

Part of the work that I do is trying to help teachers with integrating and using technology in their instruction. Right now there are all sorts of suggestions for what teachers should be doing, what they could be doing, how they can do it, and why they should do it. Some of these I agree with, some of these I wonder about, and some of these I think will create more issues than they will help. So what should teachers do during this time?
Stop and Pivot
As a basketball coach, one of the most important things I worked on with my teams was to stop and pivot. When things were moving fast and it seemed a bit chaotic. Stop. Take a breath. Plant where you are and pivot. Look for a pass. Look for a place to drive the ball. Look to set up a play. Protect and pivot.
As teachers are wondering what to do, what advice to follow, what things to do for their classes this is a great time to just stop.
And Pivot.
Making all kinds of changes will be overwhelming for the teacher and the students. Introducing a whole new set of tools and procedures is apt to overwhelm teachers and be stressful for students. Yes, there are all sorts of resources and sites for students to visit and things for them to see. But this isn’t the time to be doing all of this. It’s time to pivot. To see what will work best.
In this post by Rose Pillay, she explores getting to the "bare sticks" of teaching and the importance of identifying what is necessary. I would recommend taking a look as she has some great insight into focusing on the basics at a time like this.
Begin with the Students
How are the students doing? What is their day like? What support do they have? Who will help them? Do they need supports and differentiation to be successful? This is a perfect moment to stop the constant feeling of change and just pause. Connect with students in a way that will help them feel comfortable. This may be a Zoom meeting but it may mean a phone call just to talk with them and their parents. How is everyone doing? Find out what is available and what is realistic for students.
Don’t try to Recreate School
This isn’t school. It isn’t Homeschooling either. This is something different. This is a shift that is new. There is nothing like this before. To try to use old systems for something new creates artificial restraints and issues. There will plenty of growing pains. There will be plenty of mistakes. Oh, and the problems that will pop up. But they will be different.
This isn’t school. This is learning in a different, and new, way. What is possible? What will count as learning? How will assessment work? How about feedback? What skills will teachers need? How will they get these skills? What skills will students need? How will they get these skills? What role will parents have?
This isn’t school. This is learning at home. Just as working from home is different from going to a work place, learning at home is going to be different. How will we create a community for learning? What will that look like? Who will be involved?
Choose Carefully Who You Listen To
There will be a great many people who will be offering advice. Although most of it will be well intended, only you will know where you are at this moment. Some of you will be ready to take on a variety of different challenges. Some of you are just wanting to know what to do next. Some of you are still grieving and aren’t really ready to move on yet. There is a spectrum of needs that will have to be met during this time.
There will be a great may people who will be offering advice. They will be offering you ideas for math, science, social, writing, reading, physical education - they will have things your students can do, list of resources. I suggest that this is a perfect time to stop. And Pivot. Remember, this is all new. New routines. New ways of teaching. New ways of learning, connecting, assessing, etc. You may be ready to innovate and move forward but make sure your students are ready. This is the time to focus on students’ emotional well being, especially at the start. Introduce change that is appropriate to students’ age and capabilities. Be deliberate about the choices you make. Take time to decide what you will do and how will you will help all students.
Routines Must Be Flexible
Although it can be difficult, routines for students need to be flexible. We do not know what is going on in each of the homes, the new routines that are affecting family life, the routines of the parents or any other circumstances. Although it would seem that having a routine similar to school should work, remember that some parents work shift work, have two jobs, or a myriad of other things. Instead of routines that specify a time to start, time for breaks, time certain subjects, think instead of doing activities like reading, exercise, eating, resting, playing, and other such activities. Remember, parents are not teachers and should not be expected to develop a school routines just because teachers want it. Help parents by giving them suggestions for activities to do with the children.
You Are Not Alone
This isn’t just for young children either. With 3 teenagers, a 10 year old and a 23 year old who is attending college, there are different routines that we have in one house. I work from home and still need to get a certain amount of work done. Being flexible is important and creating a stressful situation of trying to recreate school isn’t going to help parents reduce anxiety and stress.
There is no manual for this. We are creating this right now.
As David Truss suggests in his post The Quick Answer Isn’t Always the Best Answer
"We need to go slowly. We need to ask a lot of questions."
With the rush of things happening, stopping to pivot will give you time to make adjustments and see what options are open for your next move. Just like a basketball team, you have support around you to help you with making this change. People are there to support you and cheer you on. This isn’t just one shot but we’re here for the entire game and season. There are people who will help you even if the first shot you take isn’t successful.
You don’t need to rush full speed ahead.
It’s time to Pivot….