Learning Focus

September 2020: Strategies for Distance Learning

We are our own mirror

I have long been a believer that professional development is personal. It is important that we find (and are given) opportunities to grow our craft and ourselves. Providing new learning and building the capacity for reflection are the two fundamental goals of Learning Focus. Each month this little publication will provide you with links to practical teaching and learning articles, connect you with authors and opinions to get you thinking, and hopefully provide a little bit of inspiration along the way.


As you read, always keep in mind the importance of reflection. Reflection is essential to personal and professional growth. We must continuously examine the outcomes of our efforts. Practical evaluation of our own strengths and weakness comes with a consistent application of the practice of reflection. We must deepen our ability to assess our own practices, learn from our students as well as teach them, and help students become self-aware of their own strengths and needs as leaners.


Until next time, keep on learning! –Mike

A Year Unlike No Other…

Over the last six months, we have been inundated with the use of the word unprecedented. It has been used so often in our daily conversations, it would be no surprise if it becomes one of Merriam Webster’s Words of the Year for 2020.


As we start a new school year, we once again sit on the precipice of something extraordinary. An opportunity to work, teach, and learn together in ways we never imagined. However, before we can engage in this work, we must connect with our students and each other.


77 years ago psychologist Abraham Maslow shared his groundbreaking theory on the Hierarchy of Needs. The idea that meaningful learning can only occur when the physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of our students have been met first. The pandemic continues to impact the children of our community in various and disproportionate ways. Now more than ever, it is vital that we get to know our students, their needs, and their stories, before we delve into teaching.


Complicating these connections will be the guidelines. With distance, masks, and screens of all kinds between us, we will need to work harder than ever to find ways to connect, collaborate, and show that we care. Please take time to cultivate and nurture relationships with your students and each other.


If you need inspiration, take a minute to read either David Saleh Rauf’s EdWeek article, Nurturing Teacher- Student Connections in a Virtual World, or Katie Martin’s educational blog about the 10 Things to Do in the First Weeks of School to Connect with Learners in Distance Learning.


Schools are more than desks and chairs, pencils and papers, Chromebooks and crayons, they are filled with people who want to feel like they are part of something larger. Everyone in the schoolhouse needs to know they matter and are valued.


In this year like no other, place relationships first, the rest will follow!