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Communicate While Social Distancing

Connecting in the World of Physical Distancing

Apr 24, 2020 2020-04-24

By Sherrilynn Bair

Just a few short weeks ago we saw, heard, and hugged some of our best friends almost daily. Now the world has been turned upside down and we are all trying to find a new normal. I'm reminded of the graphic below. This is truly what it feels like right now. We were on a pretty solid upward trajectory, with a few bumps in the road. Now we're squarely in the middle of chaos and we realize we will come out higher, stronger, and better than ever.

Teachers are among the most creative and innovative folks on earth and they are rising to the occasion and finding unique ways to stay connected to their colleagues and students. Here are some of the methods educators are using in the world of physical distancing.

Change Our Words
What if we started to think in terms of physical distancing rather than social distancing? It’s a small change, but important to think about our words. The need for social connecting is even greater, while the need for physical connection has changed.

Get Texting
Staying in touch through texting is certainly not new. Teams often text to coordinate schedules, materials, and logistics. Is this a time to elevate our texting to bring additional power, connection, and meaning to stressful times? Offering words of encouragement, sharing disappointments, and planning for a brave new world are now the top priorities.

Fill a Need
Many districts are providing lunches for students and families. Drive through lunches prepared by lunchroom staff and delivered to students by teachers has healed hearts broken by the absence of daily hugs. Teachers, rather than students, are now riding the busses as transportation staff deliver meals to kids instead of kids to school.

Get Creative
Many have seen the Facebook post of the teacher who took a whiteboard and stood outside a glass door providing much needed instruction on a difficult math problem.

Another clever teacher shared his experience on Twitter. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact a student via phone, text, and email, the teacher had a pizza delivered to the family with a note including his phone number and a request to call him. The family responded within the hour. Who could resist that type of thoughtful invitation?

What about conducting a virtual staff meeting including pizza? Arrange a time that works for everyone, order pizza to be delivered to your teaching team, and have a Zoom staff meeting/pizza party.

Utilize Tools
It’s hard to find someone who has not participated in a Zoom meeting, Google Meet, or a GotoMeeting virtual event. Teachers are attending virtual birthday parties for students and colleagues. Using tools like Kahoot and PollEverywhere also provide unique ways to connect.

Connecting with colleagues and students prior to March 2020 was never a problem. Today it is one of the biggest challenges we face. Working together and digging deep into our creative reserves we will rise stronger and more connected than ever.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s thoughts seem especially relevant today: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right.”

Sherrilynn Bair is passionate about being an educator, learner, parent, and grandparent. She loves working as Curriculum Director for Snake River School District and serving on the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. She is currently using the gift of time to knit with her granddaughter, do bedtime stories through FaceTime, and promote anytime, anywhere learning for all.

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