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The ABCs of Online Learning 


Assignments; lovingly and painstakingly created, yet woefully untouched.  


Bitmoji explosion; as if our bubbly, animated selves can cheerily force our students to really feel how much we care.


Chatbox; little glimpses of classroom joy when students type, unprompted, Hi! How is everyone today? I just ate Cheetos! 


Data; who’s doing well, who’s slipping through the cracks, who’s farthest from educational justice and what can we do about it? 


Eight months; eight months away from normal, eight-month removed, eight months in the upside-down.


Fun in whatever ways we can get it; 80s sing-alongs, music as poetry, and young adult novels in place of classics. If not now, when?  


Grading, endlessly. Just when we feel caught up, a stressed student is there, asking for feedback, longing to be seen, hoping to be heard.


Hybrid; the possibility looming with both hope and anxiety. Kids in real life? Wonderful. Teaching online and in-person simultaneously to 8 different groups? Yikes. 


Intentionally answering questions no one asked, just to feel useful, like a teacher again. Great question, Sam! Thanks for asking! A symbol is…


Jokes; we’re trying to lighten the mood, but only getting our own cheesy laughter as a response.


Keep calm; mask up and ignore the man in the grocery store asserting his right to keep your world confined to a computer screen.


Lessons we desperately want to do, once our classrooms are filled again. We’ve spent far too much time on teacher Instagram. It shows.   


Mute; spouting genius until a student awkwardly lets us know. We’re both ashamed and grateful, like learning we have a speck of spinach in our teeth. 


Naps; Saturday afternoons slept away in blissful and necessary recovery. 


Optimism; boundlessly believing because without it, where would we be? We have to hope better, even simply normal, is just around the corner. 


Phone calls of concern; checking on students we’re losing and families at their wits’ end, with relentless support and confidence it will all turn out okay. No, he’s doing a great job. What else can I do? 


Questions of inadequacy; did that work? Did they learn anything? Are they even there? Did they log in and walk away? Again? 


Radical educator; trying to stay strong in the face of crisis. Black Lives Matter and Gender Isn’t a Binary posters marking where we stand, even in our students’ living rooms. 


Silence so deafening that even us introverts start wandering to the main office just to make *gasp* small talk. 


Time is meaningless; is it November 16th or March 248th? 


Understanding; empathy for every situation from babysitting to panic attacks. Humanity comes before grades, as we’ve always known it should.  


Walking the empty halls, ghosts as paper mache posters and college ap posters flutter to the floor. No one had the heart to take them down. 


Xplitive $#@!


YOLO; remembering gratitude, even on the darkest days. Thankful for our health and for the jobs that we will get back to loving again, right? 

Zoom fatigue; we are a jumbled mess of blurry vision and incoherent sentences, hoping, desperately, that something, anything, sticks.

Online Learning

Emma-Kate Schaake is a National Board Certified English teacher in Washington state. She's passionate...

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  1. This is a great resource! The ABCs was a very fun read and I appreciated working in comedy with some very useful tips. Online learning has changed the dynamic of the classroom entirely, and as a graduate student planning for my student teaching next semester, I am faced with preparing for something that I did not expect. Stepping into the classroom is a daunting task on its own, but doing so online is even more so. By far the biggest thing I have learned since being forced online for my classes is that Zoom fatigue is very real. I have dedicated time throughout the week to disconnecting from my technology entirely, and it has helped me out tremendously. I’m optimistic moving forward, but certainly nervous to begin my student teaching entirely online. The relationship building dynamic of the classroom will change, so hopefully I will be able to put some of these tips to good use.

    1. Hi Andrew! Thank you for reading and I am so glad this resonated with you. It’s definitely really tough to balance the demands of online learning and our own mental and physical health. If I rewrote this, I would add something about the neck pain from staring at a screen all day! I think that optimism is so key, and standing with those you trust to lift you up. Wishing you the best!

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