Virtual Connections for Progressive Educators in the Time of COVID-19

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The last few weeks have been unprecedented for our generation of progressive educators and our students. While mass closures of public and private schools, along with physical distancing guidelines, have all sparked a range of emotions, new routines, and change, the global health pandemic known as COVID-19 has not cancelled out relationships and the interest to put our community first.

To address these oft-unsettling changes, we’ve partnered with the School Reform Initiative to offer and co-facilitate a series of online virtual connections for our community of progressive educators. This form of connection is easier than it sounds. All it entails is for us to prepare ourselves to ‘lean into’ one another. There’s no research, no speechwriting, no prep work. And best of all, there are no other expectations.

Our belief is that if everyone connects for just five minutes, sharing whatever it is that’s on their minds, we’ll be able to come together as a virtual community of progressive educators in direct support of one another. That’s because we are not alone in balancing our new daily efforts: supporting our students, creating virtual learning for probably the first time, homeschooling our own children, feeling isolated or anxious, and so many other new realities.

Introducing Virtual Connections

Keeping in mind that there is power in community and we’re stronger together than we are when we’re physically apart, we invite you to join Dr. Deirdre Sharkey-Williams, executive director of School Reform Initiative (SRI), and our own professional development associate, Anastacia Galloway Reed, for this week’s Virtual Connection. It takes place online using the free and easy-to-use Zoom videoconferencing platform (note: earlier today, Zoom received a much needed security update, for which we’re all very appreciative).

For the time being, our weekly Virtual Connections sessions are available as follows:

Event: Virtual Connections
Day & Time: Wednesday’s starting at 11 a.m. Eastern Time / 8 a.m. Pacific Time
Length of the connection: 60 minutes
Connect using: This link

There are a few things to emphasize about Virtual Connections in order for each Wednesday session to go well:

  • This is about connecting people’s thoughts to the work they are doing or are about to do.
  • Silence is perfectly acceptable, as is using this time to write, or just sit and think. In fact, there will, most likely, be times when no one speaks out loud. We find that, instead of becoming uncomfortable, some people within these groups value this quiet, reflective time as much as any other.
  • If an issue arises to which the group wants to respond, participants can decide to make time for a discussion about the issue in the session — if time allows — or after that Virtual Connections session draws to a close.

The agreements for Virtual Connections are quite simple:

  • Speak if you want to
  • Don’t speak if you don’t want to
  • Speak only once until everyone who wants to speak has had that opportunity
  • Listen and note what people say, and if there’s room for support to be offered or a short idea to be shared, do so in the session or afterwards via email, text, or a Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype session of your own that’s separate from Virtual Connections.

Our Wednesday morning Virtual Connections present an opportunity for progressive educators like us to build a bridge from where we are or have been (mentally, physically, etc.) to where we will be going and what we will be doing in this new age in the delivery of curriculum through online and virtual means. All with the caveat of continuing to engage students in their own education.

This is a time for individual educators and others in high school education to reflect — within the context of a group — upon a shared thought, story, insight, question, or feeling we are carrying with us into the session, and then connect it to the various tasks we are about to take on.

We hope you’ll join us!

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