Connecting with students: Teachers share their coronavirus strategies

By The Understood Team

Expert reviewed by Amanda Morin

The coronavirus outbreak impacts everyone’s routine and daily life. Many schools have closed and moved to some form of distance learning. More than ever, it’s important for teachers and families to keep in communication and stay connected. 

We asked the Understood Teacher Fellows to share how they’re staying in touch with students and helping them cope during this unpredictable time. Here’s what some of them told us: 

Beth Maloney, fifth-grade teacher, Surprise, Arizona: “Because I’ve maintained connections, I've found myself counseling many of my former students on the loss of field trips, prom, graduation, etc. ... My school community generally has internet access and I’ve been posting ideas (especially mindfulness and social-emotional activities and art/music). A group of us have also started reading books online for kids.”

Jessica Cisneros, first-grade teacher, Washington, DC: “We are setting up virtual contacts with each student twice a week and have daily office hours for any parent or student that wants to call in. We made packets to send home that are getting mailed out today. I am also updating my class website daily with resources and ideas for at-home learning. ... It will certainly be tough, though, as I know not all students have internet/computer access at home. A powerful component has been setting up a share page where kids can send in videos of them reading or sharing what they are working on. Kids love to share in the classroom and this has been good motivation to keep the learning going at home. They like responding to each other’s posts as well.”

Juliana Urtubey, fourth- and fifth-grade special education teacher, Las Vegas: “A lot of us in my district are calling families directly. ... My students and their families were all very excited to reconnect with me. A common thread among my students is that they felt that they were doing their part by staying home. They understood that there is solidarity in taking care of each other. I was relieved to hear that overall they felt calm and OK. It was nice to focus on wellness. Many of my students wanted to know how to keep up with their learning. I encouraged them to learn with their family, spend time learning more about their interests, journal, and read to each other.” 

Lauren Jewett, third- and fourth-grade special education teacher, New Orleans: “We check email regularly, call and check in with each family on our group/caseload, and then are available for office hours when kids and families have questions. I am hearing about varying needs through each phone call and office hour session. Families and students need help with how to use technology, how to access learning resources, and how to cope with the uncertainty of this. Some students are craving the consistency and human connection that school provides, and I can hear it in their voices and what they say to me.” 

Stephanie Doyle, third-grade language arts, Roanoke, Virginia: “Meal delivery for breakfast and lunch began yesterday via school buses. I volunteered to deliver on a bus. It was the best part of my day. ... I plan to do that each day in the afternoon until we are put under quarantine. I am available to parents and students through my extension telephone number. We are expected to reach out to them at least twice each week. I also created a YouTube channel to just maintain normalcy with my kiddos. There, I read books, talk about fun facts, and model activities that they can do from home.”

Are you a teacher? Share with us how you’re staying connected to your students and their families! 

About the author

About the author

The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.