The pandemic forced a new normal for Mary Williams, but it didn’t dim her spirits.
A teacher assistant at P.S. 372 Children’s School in Brooklyn, the United Federation of Teachers member is inspired by how her colleagues collaborated to make remote learning work for students and parents.
“It’s not all peaches and cream, but I try to focus on the positives,” said Williams, who works with first graders.
The secret is communication and support.
Here are some best practices she’s gleaned after months of remote learning.
Write it down
Having a written schedule makes things easier, said Williams. “Our parents get a weekly schedule via email, or a phone call,” outlining learning plans for the week ahead.
Stay in contact
Keeping the lines of communication open with parents is key. Daily classes start with a morning meet-up with students and parents, to discuss the day ahead. “We also ask parents at the end of the day if there’s anything they want to discuss or ask about,” said Williams.
Have a support system
When the going gets stressful, it’s important to have a support network you can depend on. “At my school we have a great administration team,” said Williams noting that regular office hours and check-ins help keep educators from feeling overwhelmed. Local union brethren, department colleagues and the statewide union are other good sources for professional support.
If you need to talk to a counselor, many school districts and employers offer an Employee Assistance Program. If you’re covered by the New York State Health Insurance Program (The Empire Plan), call 877-769-7447 and select option three to access mental health services. And as always, NYSUT Social Services is available to all NYSUT members to provide referrals for counseling, health issues and a host of other concerns.