Teaching in the Shadow of COVID: Changes and Adaptations

Teaching the Shadow of COVID

I am finally resigned to the idea that the COVID pandemic will not go away any time soon. It is like an unwanted guest that decided to move in. Initially, I felt we would be back to normal within a month. Months later, we are still trying to figure out how to teach our students.

I have been curious about how other educators are responding to the virus. I decided to reach out to learn about different experiences. I sent out a lot of questions. Here are some of the results about the changes in education and the adaptations that educators are making. I am sharing their responses with minimal editing. I hope that you find their answers helpful.

Picture created using Bitmoji and Microsoft Office

10 Things That Have Changed

  1. Teaching Requirements: My time management has changed because my district teachers are simultaneously teaching online and in person. There is not a separate remote period in which we can devote time solely to remote learners.
  2. Technology Dependence: There is a greater reliance on technology. Ironically, technology can be the most frustrating aspect of doing the job. Since networks go down, platforms do not work correctly, or students do not have access to the Internet or have devices to use.
  3. Students on Task: Not all students want to participate. They get distracted at home, and I cannot check what they are doing or understand the lesson.
  4. Developing Relationships: Relationships have changed during the COVID pandemic. We have to come up with creative ways to build relationships with our students.
  5. Learning Management Systems: The school district has implemented a new learning management system. Teaching is different than it was when I got my degree. The methods I’m required to use run counter to what I know best practices are.
  6. Teaching While Social Distancing: Manipulatives must be virtual because I don’t have enough supplies for each student to have their own. I have to disinfect everything after it is used.
  7. Scope of Responsibilities: My scope of responsibilities has changed. We are asked to be on the frontline for troubleshooting technology, prerecording lessons, and doing live classes.
  8. Library Class Visitations: Many teachers bring their classes to the library to spread out while working on projects or reading. Yesterday, I simultaneously hosted a science class, the debate team, and an English class. I believe the masks make students more restless than ever, and the teachers enjoy getting the students out of the classroom.
  9. Extended Library Hours: I have also expanded the hours of the library to accommodate remote learners. Students can schedule time with me after school. By then, the library has been disinfected so they can browse and select their own books while I am here to help navigate them versus searching online from home.
  10. Safety Protocols: There are many safety protocols in classrooms, in the library, and throughout the entire campus. Setting up the procedures for library checkout and library lessons is more complicated with COVID-19 because of sanitation and social distancing. There are assigned seats for everything, including the library, which can be challenging when class counts fluctuate.

10 Ways to Adapt to Changes

  1. Managing Time: I have set time limitations. I am contracted 8-4, but I will not allow myself to work after 5 p.m. and before 7 a.m. My change has made me more productive during the day, knowing I only allow myself a certain number of hours to work. It is also teaching my students to respect “business hours” and to be prompt yet patient with others.
  2. Creating Hybrid Teaching Schedules: I have had to give myself a realistic schedule to overcome hybrid scheduling conflicts. I may not be able to stand up and teach or monitor an entire 90-minute class period, and that is ok. I have given myself grace by working within a new schedule.
  3. Being Flexible: I have learned to be adaptable. So far, adaptability and a lot of person-hours have gotten the job done.
  4. Incentives: I offer incentives to encourage student participation.
  5. Connecting with Students: I have been holding lunch with a group of students to make sure I stay connected to them and build relationships. Lunch allows me to get to know my students better and enables them to interact with other classmates.
  6. Establishing a Team: I have a strong team. We have worked hard to build a balance between us and have our strengths in different topics so that we do not have to figure everything out alone. We are constantly researching ideas and testing out options before we ever get to lessons.
  7. Simplifying Activities: I simplify assignments for students and introduce technology slowly instead of all at once. I have also begun meeting with students individually and in smaller groups to help engagement.
  8. Implementing Safety Precautions: To protect our students while allowing them to check out books, I have enforced a rule that the books are left for 48 hours before checking them in. Then I wipe the covers with disinfectant. Additionally, students are encouraged to use hand sanitizer before and after browsing. I try to scan their cards and barcodes without removing them from their hands.
  9. Disinfecting Materials: I keep a chart at my desk and mark it when a table or computer has been used so that I can disinfect them at lunch and at the end of the day. I spray down other furniture with Lysol daily.
  10. Going Paperless: Instead of using a paper document for assigned seats, I use Google Documents and Google Slides to make changes as needed.

In all, it is clear from the responses that adversity leads to innovation. There have been many changes that have taken place throughout the country to facilitate education. Some school districts are entirely online. Others have taken a hybrid approach. Regardless of the path that has been taken, school librarians are available to assist their school communities.

Can you think of ways to solve a problem based on the challenges and adaptations that I have shared? Please share if you have a creative solution. As always, the professional development is listed for the month.

November 2020 Professional Development Schedule

Organization Date & Time Professional Development Title
edWeb.net November 4, 2020 – 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST Co-Educating with Families
November 9, 2020 – 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST Reading Redefined: Giving Students Skills for Reading in the Digital World
November 9, 2020 – 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EST Effective Technology Professional Learning: Leading and Collaborating to Assure Success
November 11, 2020 – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST Why a Culture of Reading Matters for Teacher Retention
November 18, 2020 – 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm EST Attend to Your Well-Being: How Educators Can Avoid Mental, Physical and Emotional Exhaustion
Early Childhood Investigations Webinars November 18, 2020 – 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST Master the Virtual Conference Room: Captivating Adult Learners Remotely, by Cecy Shveid and Claudia Herrmann
VolunteerMatch.org November 4, 2020 – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST Where Do I Go from Here? Engage Volunteers in New Ways
November 5, 2020 – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST Build Staff Buy-In for Volunteer Engagement
November 10, 2020 – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST Designing Virtual Opportunities, Managing Remote Volunteers
November 11, 2020 – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST Walking the Walk: Engage Volunteers in your Volunteer Engagement Program
Booklist November 3, 2020 – 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm CST Reading Graphic
November 10, 2020 – 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm CST Winter Young Reader Announcements
School Library Journal November 2, 2020 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm EST

*Multiple sessions

Library Con Live!
InfoPeople.org November 18, 2020 – 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST ADA Compliance Wins for Digital Library Spaces
TeachersFirst November 5, 2020 – 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm CST Microsoft Teams: Getting Started with Class Notebook
November 10, 2020 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm CST “No Fail” Google Quizzes


November 12, 2020 – 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm CST Microsoft Teams: Live Lessons and Meetings


November 17, 2020 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm CST SWAY Cool Reading


November 24, 2020 – 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm CST Bitmojis to Support Instruction: Oh, Yeah!
University of North Texas Multiple Literacies Lab November 18, 2020 – 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm CST Manga Literacy: Getting More from Japanese Comics Culture
WebJunction November 19, 2020 – 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm EST Who are We Designing for and Why? Service Design Techniques for Responsive Libraries
EdSurge November 12, 2020 – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST Promoting a Growth Mindset in Your District
TechSoup November 12, 2020 – 11:00 am – 12:00 pm PST Delight Donors with These Design Tips from Adobe Spark

Author: Daniella Smith

Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Professional Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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