Words of Wisdom. And Breath Mints.

Check out these real words of wisdom, from real teachers, doing real work, with real kids, as kids return to class in our hybrid model! Big thanks to Kendra Danielson for assembling all of the great WOW (words of wisdom) and big thanks to Elaine Smith for all the wonderful pictures!

My personal favorites are about relationships first, go slow, and breath mints.

Yes, we have fun in class. Critical part of learning, relationships, and bonding.

Top Tips About PPE (My Own and Student PPE)

  • Mask change for mid-day (thinker mask)
  • Come up with a mask and social distance signal for easy reminders
  • Treat everyone you come in contact with as if they have COVID. This mindset helps you remember to keep that mask on and stay 6 feet away as much as possible.
  • Your nurses are a great resource for any questions or concerns you have. Use them!
  • Have extra masks on hand for students who forget or need one that fits appropriately 
  • To make sure your room is well ventilated and aired out when cleaning/sanitizing chemicals are used.
  • Make sure students home masks fit, if not switch them out with school PPE 
  • Have extra masks on hand for your own use (I wear a mask but did not wear one for an extended amount of time and needed to change it out after several hours).
  • Mints – I have mints on hand to help with the hot and gross breath from the mask – I use mints to keep it fresh all day!
  • Learn to talk in small bursts as it takes time to build up stamina to wear a mask, talk, and breathe. Often found myself a little short of breath the first days back in class.
  • Find ways to take “mask breaks” for both you and the students.
  • Have a convenient spot to keep your PPE.
  • If you are using a shield, get the glasses kind! They are comfy, easier to see through and don’t fog up.
One dapper kid!

My top 2 tips about cleaning/sanitizing/disinfecting my workspace….

  • hand washing/sanitizer
  • REALLY REALLY have students use their own supplies
  • If you are really nervous — change your shirt/clothes mid-day
  • Wipe down your personal space often and thoroughly, especially your cell phones.
  • Sanitizing wipes are extremely helpful 
  • Use the spray district gives you and the microfiber or better still paper towels.
  • Be careful with the wipes-some have bad scents and the smell lingers. 
  • Keep disinfecting spray/towels near your workspace and put a reminder note by your door.
  • Keep supplies handy and easily accessible as it serves as a visual reminder to clean. 
  • Have your disinfectant in an easy access spot. Create a routine.
Another dapper kid!

I wish that I would have known….. 

  • If something is bothering you (not enough cleaning, too much chemicals etc..speak out right away,) let your buildings safety team/custodians/adm. know. They can’t help you if you don’t speak out.
  • How wonderful it is to be around the kids again! There was a lot of angst about returning, and there still is anxiousness, but being around the kids is truly the bright spot in all of this. Just enjoy being with them.  
  • How energy draining it is to teach safety skills on top of everything else, however you get used to it and you also get used to wearing the PPE. Sometimes you forget you have it on!
This wonderful teacher is wearing a shark hat. Because he’s awesome.

I did this and it helped so much…. 

  • Extra patience with everyone… students, co-works, schedules, all humans.  BE KIND!!!! 
  • Help and encourage each other. Have grace as we work through this, there will be some challenges.
  • I took the time to build a relationship with each student.  
  • Asked for better scented wipes. Stopped the overzealous chemicals. It was definitely a problem-my assistants and I were all reacting to this.
  • Communicate to the custodial staff about cleaning. Our custodian is working hard to make sure everything is cleaned and wiped down. 
  • self-care, self-care, and self-care!
  • I keep my own soap and lotion with me at all times — it helps with the dry skin from frequent hand washing and feels a little like home.
  • I also narrowed down my learning objectives, we only get a few days with the kids, so maximize rebuilding positive relationships and the high priority learning objectives. In doing so, I am learning to give myself grace this year. We simply cannot do it all!   
  • Take it step by step. Don’t worry about everything that isn’t working, it will come, just plan a little differently each day.
  • Let the kids just look around for a couple of minutes without bugging them to work. They have never been in your room and need a chance to acclimate. Several kids in my room had to adjust to what they thought was true about the classroom that I have been Zooming from all year. They needed time to not be distracted by the “go go go” mentality that we all feel so they could feel safe and settled.   
Can you sense the learning happening here??!

Other advice…

  • Stay calm and keep your mask on!!!! 
  • Take things slow academically. Many of our students have experienced major traumas during the pandemic (parents losing jobs, family members sick, etc.) on top of the stress of the pandemic.
  • Put building relationships first. 
  • You are going to need hand lotion… lol
  • Prep your technology stuff before your school starts. Plug everything in and work out the bugs. New social distancing might affect your ordinary spot and if you check it out early – you will have time to request tech orders or equipment needed before in person instruction.
  • Embrace yet another change and use the motto, One day at a time. 

Author: Jeff Nelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 37 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 6 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years. jnelson@fifeschools.com twitter.com/jeffnelsonTLI

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