Teaching first grade for the first time is tricky! And teaching first grade virtually for the first time is even trickier!
Listen in as PEBC Lab Host Kirsten Myers Blake shares how she got “unstuck” when times got tough by leaning into her beliefs, determining importance, and loving hard. As a fierce believer in the workshop model, Kirsten knew she had to provide opportunities for her young students to read and write everyday and to provide the “just right” amount of support. Challenges like supporting students during composing time, conferring consistently, managing virtual book bags, providing opportunities for collaboration, and learning skills like counting money seemed huge at times, yet Kirsten found that her greatest successes were born by leaning into her beliefs.
Isolation from colleagues and the deficit based rhetoric surrounding student learning were defeating at times, yet Kirsten found that by determining importance she was able to swim out of the ‘sea of grey’ and identify all of the amazing things her students were able to learn this year. Her belief in the power and importance of asset-based language and practices for children and adults were affirmed again and again. And finally, Kirsten embraced her mantra of ‘loving hard’ and infused her virtual classroom with positive energy by throwing elaborate publishing parties, writing weekly notes to parents, and providing a space for her students to “play” and connect together virtually.
While teachers and students across the country have faced great challenges and have exhibited great resilience this year, Kirsten encourages us to come together next year to create schools and classrooms where everyone can come together to celebrate the brilliance of our children and all that they have learned this year. Check out this great blog and video that features Kirsten teaching a virtual writer’s workshop for fifth graders If you are interested in learning more about the PEBC Lab Network or how to visit teachers like Kirsten, click here!
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