I have taught through 2 pandemics. The first was in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic in South Korea and the second was in 2015 during the MERS pandemic, also in South Korea.
Teaching middle school students and teen students required a lot of holding space for their emotions and making room for deep conversations. One of the things that we aren't prepared for is the grief that the students enter with. Many of them have lost people and/or are afraid of losing people. They are grieving. Now more than ever educators have to be prepared to deal with grief, fear, and high levels of anxiety.
Connection...deep connection...is more important than ever. I had personal journals with each of my students, and later on I began to do this with the young ones, as well. This taught me their triggers and gave me a "reason" to probe and ask deeper questions by also being vulnerable and humanizing myself when I shared my own stories.
I vulnerably share just a bit of what worked for me in my classrooms with older students during these times.
I also want to add that this post does not mean that I support teachers risking their lives to teach during COVID. I do not. But, if you are going to teach, I want to help as much as I can and since I have taught through pandemics...twice...with very beautiful outcomes, the best value I can give you is to share what worked for me. I hope you find some value, some inspiration, and some peace.