Welcome to the second post in our 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic. What does daily life look like for teachers right now? What’s working in the new world of online classrooms, and what’s not? What can parents do at home with their kids? How can educators, parents, and students all cope with overwhelm, communicate more effectively, and support one another?
Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.
If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.
Written by York Region District School Board Teacher-Librarian Jennifer Byrne
The times we find ourselves in right now are uncertain and unprecedented. But what always sticks with me is this saying from Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world."
It is clear that for the disaster the world is experiencing right now, the frontline workers are the helpers that will navigate us through it. But we mustn't discount or forget the wonderful helpers who are reaching out to those of us social distancing at home, and doing their part to help by sharing their skills and talents. For those of us who are social distancing, and staying at home, the amount of helpers that have emerged, to assist us in working through this time alone by offering learning opportunities, activities for engagement, moments of bright spots in otherwise long boring days have been innumerable. The number of people who have come forward offering their services has been unbelievable, and frankly, overwhelming. To that end, I have chosen to take my small corner of the internet to help families out, including my own, by posting one daily activity that can be done while you’re isolating at home.
I started this to help manage the offers of help that are being posted all the time. I thought, if I just choose one, maybe I can help a child today, give them purpose, give them something to look forward to, to unleash their creativity, to try something new, so they’re not feeling so isolated. Below are some of the activities that I’ve posted on my library Twitter account (@WilshireLibrary). All activities are posted under the hashtag #ActivityOfTheDay. Please note that I’ve chosen to share ones that I thought would be of interest to our families, and I’m aware that there are many many more wonderful opportunities out there. Check out the #ActivityOfTheDay and feel free to add some of yours below!
Our amazing community of Canadian authors and illustrators have offered so many wonderful opportunities to their young readers to keep them engaged, reading, and interacting with their books. Many are doing read alouds, tutorials, and Q&A’s (Kenneth Oppel, Joel Sutherland, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Susin Nielsen, Vikki VanSickle, and David A. Roberston to name just a few). One of the most exciting opportunities for our readers was OLA releasing all of the Forest of Reading activities for kids to engage with, which are normally password protected.
Drawing is always a fun way to pass the time, but what could be better than some world-famous illustrators and artists teaching and guiding you through it? This thread has just some of the wonderful artists offering their skills to you.
Finally, many families have been going for walks outside to enjoy the fresh air and get a change of scenery. Because it can be hard for young children to walk by their favourite playgrounds and not be able to stop and play, a movement began to get kids to create artwork to post in the windows of their homes. While out walking, kids can tally all the artwork they see!
I hope that these ideas have given you ways to navigate through these long days. I am so especially grateful to all of these helpers, who are so generously sharing their skills and talents with families. May you stay healthy and safe during these uncertain times.
Jennifer Byrne is a teacher-librarian at a K–8 elementary school in the York Region District School Board. She is passionate about using the power of stories to reach young people. You can follow all the happenings of her library on Twitter @WilshireLibrary.