Mendocino County Office of Education: A Perspective on Education
A year ago, none of us could have imagined that so much of our education system, let alone our economy, would depend on video conferencing, but here we are. Whether it’s Zoom or Google Meet, many of us are glued to a screen much of the day.
As challenging as meetings can be, I believe no one has a bigger challenge than teachers who are tasked with trying to keep the attention of dozens of students who, with brains still under development, have a limited ability to concentrate for extended periods under the best of circumstances—and clearly, these are not the best of circumstances. With distractions that include everything from family members walking into the room to cell phones notifying students of their friends’ latest posts, it’s no wonder they struggle to stay focused.
Not only are teachers competing with all sorts of distractions, they also have to develop new ways to teach. This is where many teachers shine. As often happens in a crisis, people find creative solutions to problems. Just check out Mr. Melville’s Monitor Mirror video (youtube.com/watch?v=MY5p0GqH_qA) on YouTube.
At the Mendocino County Office of Education, we’ve provided teachers and other educators with online resources and best practices. Since we aren’t the only ones in need of this information, allow me to share some resources with all of you.
For Distance Learning resources in English, visit www.mcoe.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Distance-Learning-Resource-MCOE.pdf.
For Distance Learning resources in Spanish, visit www.mcoe.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Distance-Learning-Resource-MCOE-Spanish-FINAL-1.pdf
In addition, here are some read-aloud video resources.
- StorylineOnline – Streamed videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books. Each title includes lessons resources.
- Common Sense Media – 25 podcasts for kids are available.
- Kid Lit TV – Read alouds for kids.
- Puffin Books – a wide range of videos and some read by authors or celebrities.
- Story Time for Children – Wide range of stories developed by Toddler Fun and Ladybird Books for children of all ages.
- Kid Time Story Time – Read alouds with puppets focused on mindfulness and social emotional awareness.
- Teaching Books – An engaging collection of resources that brings books to life.
- The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s (SCBWI) Digital remote learning resources.
Although there are wonderful resources online, it is important to get away from the screen when you can, especially video chats. According to University of Kansas professor Jeffrey Hall, the author of Relating Through Technology, Zoom fatigue is real.
“Zoom is exhausting and lonely because you have to be so much more attentive and so much more aware of what’s going on than you do on phone calls,” he says. Not only are you paying attention to other meeting participants, but when your own camera is turned on, you are also watching yourself speak, which can be unsettling. He says older technology such as phone calls are less demanding. “You can be in your own space. You can take a walk, make dinner.”
ONLINE MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES
If you’re concerned about your child’s or student’s mental health, check out the Child Mind Institute (childmind.org). It includes resources addressing children’s mental health and learning challenges with the goal of empowering parents and teachers to make data-based decisions.
If you’re looking for fun activities for kids, here are some ideas:
- Take a hike.
- Make a big pot of chili or bake a cake.
- Carve pumpkins.
- Write and share gratitude lists.
- Do a scavenger hunt.
- Picnic at the ocean.
- Decorate your house for Halloween.
Helping kids focus on the positive things in their lives can alleviate some of the tough parts of living through a pandemic.
By Michelle Hutchins
Superintendent of Schools