Twitter: Personalized Professional Development

Twitter: Personalized Professional Development


Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has dominated the social media landscape. Boasting hundreds of millions of followers, this free microblogging, social networking app is more popular than ever. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, settled on its name based on one definition of the word: a short burst of inconsequential information. Dorsey believed that this definition described exactly what the product was (The Street). In some ways, Twitter can be exactly that, but at the risk of sounding grandiose, Dorsey’s original motivation for the name downplays the significant impact of Twitter. Look no further than its critical role in the Arab Spring; you can even relive those events as they unfold through Al Jazeera’s Twitter account demonstrating Twitter’s role as a significant record of history. Twitter allows people to stay in constant contact with each other through short bursts of communication that are ideal for the consumer of The Information Age. And while I am not prepared to compare the influence of Twitter on the Arab Spring and academia, I do want to highlight, and hopefully persuade, educators on the benefits of engaging with Twitter for professional learning. 

Twitter is a fantastic digital tool for building professional networks through which the sharing of ideas and discourse can take place. I have been regularly using Twitter for quite some time now, but only recently within the last year have I intentionally engaged with Twitter for the purpose of professional development. Some of my colleagues  dismiss Twitter when I share my positive experiences with the tool. Common criticisms I hear are that it is another “thing on a screen” for me to look at or that their Twitter’s timeline is too vast and random for them to dedicate time combing through information relevant to their current search. For this module, I hope to persuade educators to see the value in using this tool to improve their professional practice as well as offer tips for how to streamline and curate your Twitter to make your interactions more self-serving and efficient. 

My Question:

How can educators leverage twitter to learn from and with others to improve their own practice and student learning?

ISTE Educator 1: Learner

Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.

1b. Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks

1c. Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.


Twitter’s character limit and the ability to organize Tweets under common hashtags make it a useful tool to elevate discourse especially during a live event. Some of the early compelling research on Twitter has been around the use of backchannels. Backchannels are a fairly new way for both educators and students to enhance their learning through a stream of online communication simultaneous to a lesson or a professional development opportunity such as a conference (Alderton, Brunsell, & Bariexca, 2011). If you have been to an education conference in the past few years, it is likely that conference promoted a hashtag to further conversations, share resources, and create more active engagement from participants.This is another way of learning conducive to large events where there would be otherwise limited opportunity for interaction between attendees and presenters. This is supported by a growing body of research showing positive results for conference attendees who were able to view and learn from Twitter streams occurring in other workshops they weren’t able to attend due to scheduling conflicts (Reinhardt, Ebner, Beham, & Costa, 2009). It is because of these early positive results that other studies were conducted to examine the ways educators use Twitter outside of scheduled professional development and the impact of this use on their professional practice. 

In 2011, a study focused on a group of k-12 educators that used Twitter regularly. Tweets were categorized and studied according to: professional practice, resource, question, social (non-professional relevancy), and unknown. Tweets were also analyzed for dialogue as opposed to “unidirectional broadcast of information” and the relationship of the interactions. The research provided insight that educators who use Twitter lead to results of change in teachers’ knowledge beliefs, and attitudes towards their practice, which they argue is the main objective of professional development. The educators also highly engaged in true dialogue over 61% of the time. This is an opportunity often left out of large, organized professional developments such as conferences (though this trend has been changing with backchannels more recently). In addition, over 82% of educators chose to follow other educators or content experts that created “a personal learning network meaningful to their professional needs”. Majority of the Tweets were practice, question, and resource sharing in nature. When participants were asked to reflect on how Twitter benefited them professionally, four theme emerged: 

  • Access to resources
  • Supportive relationships
  • Increased leadership capacity
  • Development of a professional vision

(Alderton, Brunsell, & Bariexca, 2011)

Are these not the desired outcomes of quality professional development? Twitter empowers educators to continually improve their practice by learning from others, pursue professional interests, and stay current with leading research at a time and place convenient for them. Furthermore, educators can create professional learning networks (PLNs) that are highly collaborative that can feel more fulfilling that traditional professional development (Ross, Maninger, LaPrairie, and Sullivan, 2015). 

For some, using Twitter can feel overwhelming and time consuming. As a user’s following base expands, Twitter timelines can become disorganized. This can make it challenging to use the tool effectively for building PLNs and resource sharing. Here are a few ways to efficiently use Twitter for professional purpose:

1. Create multiple Twitter accounts – this is especially helpful when you’d like to use Twitter for personal/private and professional purposes. My longest running Twitter account is my personal account. Only recently did I create a professional account representing my role in education as well as following my colleagues, peers, and other education professionals. You can have 2 accounts under the same email address which makes it easy to switch back and forth between the two on the Twitter app. Having separate Twitter accounts allows you to better compartmentalize the types of information you want to see and who you want to interact with. Although, as your professional account grows, it can still be challenging to curate your timeline to view the kinds of  information you want at the time. 

2. Hashtags – these are tags (#symbole + word/phrase)  that you can add to your Tweet. The benefits of hashtags are that you can potentially broadcast your Tweet to larger audiences. For example, if you compose a Tweet and use #BlendedLearning, then any user including users who don’t follow you, may come across your Tweet when they are searching Tweets with that hashtag. This also increases your chance of your Tweet becoming a trending topic. The most popular trending topics will get highlighted by Twitter for all users. 

3. Collections – these are an editable group of Tweets that are curated by a Twitter user. Each collection has its own public URL that makes it easy to share with others or embed them. This is a great way to collect Tweets you find useful and share them with colleagues and/or students (Twitter Developer). 

4. Lists – these allow you to organize people into interest groups, and they can even include people you’re not following. In short, Lists provide an efficient means of reading Tweets. This allows you to customize, organize and prioritize Tweets you see in your timeline. You can create your own lists or even join Lists created by others (Goldman, 2015). You can even pin lists to the top of your Home Timeline or create a column for them in TweetDeck (more on that below). 

5. TweetDeck – This is a browser based tool that allows you to organize and build Collections, keep track of Lists, search, track, and refine topics or hashtags, and manage multiple accounts. It is the ultimate platform for curating your Twitter to be more focused and obtain information more efficiently. You can do everything you could do in the Twitter app and then much more. You can customize your notifications, the size of columns, fonts, and even themes. Educators could create columns focused on strategies they are interested in like #BlendedLearning or organize columns around higher education professionals to stay current on new research and work to name a few ideas. When you add a column, you can then choose to show all Tweets or Tweets with specific media like images or videos. They could also organize columns around higher education professionals to stay current on new research and work.. I learn so much just by seeing how others are approaching how they teach the same lessons as me. Some educators are even using TweetDeck to track weekly discussions with students. Twitter’s Help Center has a How to use TweetDeck and there are also free tutorials and examples on youtube and other various websites to help get you started. Best part of TweetDeck…. It’s free! 

(State of Digital)

There are other products out there that do similar things as TweetDeck (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer), but most of them cost money and are more designed to help brand awareness and support a business. For the educator who is a new user with Twitter, or just a casual user, I would recommend starting with creating a professionally focused account if you haven’t already then leveraging TweetDeck, hashtags, and lists to curate your timelines. The questions that still remain for me are what educators should do with the discourse and information they receive from Twitter? How do you share this information with staff who don’t use Twitter? How might info and discourse from Twitter support PLC goals? I may explore this later in the DEL program.


Alderton, E., Brunsell, E., & Bariexca, D. (2011). The End of Isolation. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(3).

Goldman, J. (2015, April 1). 9 Ways You Can Take Advantage of Twitter Lists. 

Reinhardt, W., Ebner, M., Beham, G., & Costa, C. (2009). How people are using Twitter during conferences. Creativity and Innovation Competencies on the Web. Hornung-Prähauser, V., & Luckmann, M. (Ed.). Proceeding of 5. EduMedia conference, p. 145-156, Salzburg.

Ross, Carrie R.; Maninger, Robert M.; LaPrairie, Kimberly N.; and Sullivan, Sam (2015) “The Use of Twitter in the Creation of Educational Professional Learning Opportunities,” Administrative Issues Journal: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1 , Article 6.

Twitter. (n.d.). Curate a collection of Tweets. Overview | Twitter Developer.


Decomposing Computational Thinking within Social Studies


The classic definition of computational thinking was created in 2006 by computer scientist Jeanette Wing. According to Wing, computational thinking (CT) involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science (Wing, 2006). CT isn’t just for computer scientists, but a fundamental skill for everyone. It is a way humans solve problems and it is not trying to get humans to think like computers (Wing, 2006). We all practice CT in some capacity even without computers. Packing your bag with things you need for your trip or retracing your steps to find an item you lost are problem-solving strategies relative to computational thinking. Wing’s hope is that CT competencies become more widely recognized and spread to other disciplines (Wing, 2006).  

In 2012 , ISTE and Computer Science Teachers Association developed an operational definition of CT to help K-12 teachers introduce it in their classrooms. The timing of generating these standards is consistent with growing employment opportunities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, more than 600,000 high-paying technology jobs are open across the US, and as of 2018 more than 51% of all STEM jobs will be in computer science-related fields (Lindstrom et al., 2019). Therefore, teaching CT as a critical problem-solving process will better equip our students to be prepared for the job market that they will be entering. Not all our students will enter a computer-science related field, but CT is universally important in solving and understanding complex problems. 

ISTE recognizes that bringing CT to K-12 classrooms faces challenges of introducing it to the curriculum to getting teachers fully onboard. Many teachers don’t yet know what computational thinking is and get hung up on the definition (Fingal, 2018). I can recall the day I attended an ISTE training put on by our district and thinking how irrelevant CT was for social studies. I didn’t realize at the time that I had been teaching facets of CT, but I didn’t have the knowledge and understanding to communicate these processes to students. 

Fast forward to my role as a digital education coach, I wish to help educators understand that they are already engaging their students in CT, find new ways to integrate CT into their existing curriculum, and foster a better understanding of the characteristics of CT so that it is explicit for our students and to empower them transferring these processes to other problems. More specifically, I want to investigate how CT is integrated into social studies to better support some of the teachers I work with. 

My question – What is computational thinking and how can it be integrated into social studies?

ISTE 5 Computational Thinker –  Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.


Computational thinking forms links between computing and the real world including a set of problem-solving processes that builds on the power and limits of computing. The focus is on thinking skills or processes and the four most commonly cited of CT are decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithmic thinking. Many social studies educators may realize that they are already fostering these thinking skills in their curriculum and with their students. The following includes a breakdown of CT thinking skills as well as examples of how they could be integrated into social studies curriculum:

Decomposition is the breaking down complex problems into smaller parts or tasks. Decomposition is great for breaking down essential questions or historical topics/processes to better analyze and understand. Students can break problems down into smaller tasks to work at one at a time to limit the chance of being overwhelmed (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). This is a common skill in social studies as historical events and periods are broken down into parts such as causes and effects or varying perspectives. For example, while investigating The Great Depression, students could look into the main causes for the stock market crash and how the results affected the country, its economics, and people. They could then analyze the different parts to infer why the period is known as “the Great Depression” (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). Similarly, there is a common social media trend where large topics are broken down into simpler and more easily digestible parts. These posts often begin with: “so you want to talk about _____”. This is a great example of decomposition that can be engaging for students to leverage digital tools to communicate complex information in a way that is appropriate for a target audience. It is common for educators as the drivers of this thinking often categorizing or breaking up topics for students. Instead, educators should consider empowering students to participate and collaborate in this process as much as it is appropriate.

Pattern recognition concentrates on finding similarities and differences in systems that can also be used to make predictions. Like decomposition, pattern recognition is common and easily integrated into social studies curriculum. We can study history, for example, to identify patterns to make better decisions in the future. Investigating change over time or compare/contrast already lends itself to pattern recognition that can then be used to make predictions or arrive at conclusions. For example, students can investigate maps of settlements or population distribution, investigate the rise and fall of civilizations, or examine primary source data to study patterns of voting rights in a nation (Hammond et al., 2019). 

Abstraction can be described as reducing detail to make a problem or analysis more understandable. Another way to think about CT abstraction is the filtering information to glean the most relevant information. In other words, can I remove details to make it easier to see patterns or connections? For example, students discern the most important details shared in articles they research to write informatively about the subject. In civics, abstraction can be used to filter data to be analyzed then generate conclusions. Build in time for students to continually ask questions as this will help them consider new ways to analyze data and patterns. 

Algorithmic thinking/design is developing processes through logical, precise, and repeatable steps (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). It would be helpful to preface this CT with some basic knowledge of coding including vocabulary like sequence, selection, and repetition, but it isn’t critical. Students can develop their own algorithms to teach processes. Students could be empowered to research and create algorithms for how a bill becomes a law or the process of gentrification. Generally, students may use algorithmic thinking to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes developments, and turning points throughout history (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). Simulation games like Mincraft or the oregon trail really exemplify this particular CT skill when the user is creating or playing through a narrative.  


To be clear, computer science is an academic discipline involving the study of computation and application using computers while CT is a way we go about tackling problems using big picture processes (2016). CT helps increase student confidence with ambiguous, complex, or open-ended problems. Many social studies educators are naturally teaching CT though it may not be explicit. There is crossover between common historical thinking skills and CT. It is then critical to teach students the vocabulary associated with CT to support a deeper understanding of the thinking skills as well as increase ability in transferring those skills to other problems. In addition, providing space for students to choose, evaluate, and discuss their CT process can support higher level critical thinking. Encourage students to generate questions. Questions ignite the thinking process and also redirect the thinking process. Students may start with a driving question that evolves into other questions that affords a much deeper learning experience. New questions also may determine different ways to manipulate data or look for alternative patterns.


Fingal, J. (2018, November 27). Teaching computational thinking more important than defining it. ISTE.   

Güven, I., & Gulbahar, Y. (2020). Integrating Computational Thinking into Social Studies. The Social Studies, 111(5), 234–248.  

Hammond, T. C., Oltman, J., & Salter, S. (2019). Using Computational Thinking to Explore the Past, Present, and future. Social Education, 83(2), 118–122.,-Social%20Education&text=The%20incorporation%20of%20elements%20of,for%20analyzing%20discipline%2Dspecific%20data 

Lindstrom, D. L., Schmidt-Crawford, D. A., & Thompson, A. D. (2019). Computational Thinking in Content Areas and Feminine Craft. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 35(3), 126–127.  

What is computational thinking? (2016).

Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational Thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33–35.


Mission Statement

Mission Statement 

By Nick Rose 

My vision as a digital educator is to support the development of digital wisdom to foster healthy digital citizenship to bridge gaps in access, knowledge, communication, and cultural understanding. I want to help support the development of thoughtful and empathetic digital citizens who recognize their responsibility in a community with others. I believe in engaging both students and educators alike in learning that maximizes the possibilities that technology can afford. My pursuit is to support excellent teaching for each and every student that recognizes the inequity in our systems and assist in the closing of those achievement gaps with digital education.   

To properly act on this vision, my goal is to ground my work through three guiding principles: CommunityResponsibility, and Perspective. Doing so will help inform my practices to ensure that my approach as a digital coach is consistent and mindful of the implications of digital citizenship in response to a constantly changing environment.  


ISTE Standards: 

7a) Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities. 

7b) Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology 

Without question, advances in technology have altered our environment and increased our level of connectedness. According to Floridi, a Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, “we are not standalone entities, but rather interconnected informational organisms or inforgs” (Floridi, 2010). How we engage in the ever evolving infosphere is largely influenced by how we engage with each other. To maximize the potential of using technology in education, I must support educators and students in their understanding of their role as participants of a community to foster healthy and effective engagement. I must also support staff and students to engage with learning that expands beyond the classroom community. Through “more communal, collective forms of digital engagement”, I will help broaden student learning to collaborate with other classrooms (Selwyn & Jandrić , 2020). 

I will also help educators and students in the development of healthy digital habits to build a culture of respectful interaction with peers and healthy engagement with technology. Healthy digital habits, in my understanding, focus on the quality of the experience and not necessarily the time. This lends itself to the question of where institutions and their educators fit in all of this. Students will access technology through a variety of mediums and for a variety of purposes. Technology use occurs both at school, at home, and every place in-between. We also know that access to technology is not equal, and how/when students experience technology is impacted by socioeconomics.  We must be careful with considerations for limiting student engagement with technology as this presents equity issues for students furthest from educational justice. For this reason, I will encourage educators to support students’ reflection about their use of technology through dispositions as well as invite families into the discussion. Thus, reinforcing that we each play a critical role as entities of a larger information ecology.  


ISTE Standards: 

7b) Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology. 

7c) Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions. 

7d) Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect. 

Responsibility exists at the core of embodying a Digital Citizen Advocate. As an educator and a coach, I have a responsibility to equip students with skills and habits that encourage the development of their digital wisdom. According to Marc Prensky, an American author and speaker on education, there is now a greater need to support digital wisdom, “referring both to wisdom arising from the use of digital technology to access cognitive power beyond our usual capacity and to wisdom in the use of technology to enhance our innate capabilities” (Prensky, 2013, p. 202). Responsibility and digital wisdom are values important for media literacy. Information is an abundant resource, but it takes discernment and critical thinking to examine the sources of online media for their accompanying biases and assumptions. It is important to use and share that information in a way that is responsible to not mislead others. Our world today is fast-paced filled with instant gratification and access to information. Because of this, it is easy to fall into the trap of action without thought. A student can easily search for a news article or website that includes a buzzword for their search, but pay little attention to the source information or underlying assumptions. To combat this, educators should provide opportunity for students to discern online media for 4 dimensions of critical evaluation: 

Relevance – information’s level of importance to a particular reading purpose or explicitly stated need for that information 

Accuracy – the extent to which information contains factual and updated details that can be verified by consulting alternative and/or primary sources 

Bias/Perspective – the position or slant toward which an author shapes information 

Reliability – the information’s level of trustworthiness based on information about the author and the publishing body 

(Coiro, 2017).  

There is also a level of responsibility for how we construct ourselves online. We must present dispositions for students consider personal, moral, and ethical issues associated with their online personas. We have a responsibility no only for the impact of our actions on ourselves but also on our communities and the broader world. I must help educators and students consider the implications of their choices online that may not have a direct impact on themselves, but have indirect consequences on a larger audience that may be challenging for an individual to understand at first.  Common Sense Education, an organization dedicated to supporting the development of digital citizenship, identifies this dilemma as our “ethical blind spot” when we make choices online. Likewise, those who make decisions around digital education policy need to consider the responsibility of their choices in protecting the privacy and data of students.  



ISTE Standards: 

7a) Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities. 

7c) Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions. 

7d) Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect. 

A good digital citizen considers their perspective as well as the perspectives of others when they engage in the information ecology. Perspective is a core value when supporting educators and students when technology is leveraged for civic engagement or cultural understanding. I hope to provide opportunities for those I am coaching with to consider the experiences of other. Considering perspective fosters healthy collaboration and understanding while building empathy. I will encourage educators to incorporate students learning  in digital education with strategies that are culturally responsive. Thinking routines and talk structures can be utilized to help students explore perspectives especially with dilemmas concerning how we use technology in ways that our healthy, how we interact with others online, examine online sources, and how we construct our digital profile. For example, we must support students to consider perspective as they “self-brand and re-appropriate [themselves] on various online platforms like blogs, social media pages, YouTube channels, and online multiplayer games” (Floridi, 2010, p. 26). Perspective consideration is a vital skill I must prioritize when supporting the work I do as a digital coach because our engagement with technology has modified our concept of reality. We need to get beyond thinking about technology simply as offline/online and recognize that our engagement with technology encompasses all parts of our constructs of reality.   

I am dedicated to helping educators and students to consider the moral, ethical, and civic responsibilities through technology thereby developing empathy and highly skilled digital citizens. I believe the best way to support perspective consideration is by focusing on authentic and relevant learning opportunities. Present problem-based learning that address challenges in local and distant communities. Engage with online sources by considering the perspective of the author or intended audience. Present dispositions for students to consider for how their decisions might impact themselves, their community, and the world. Having restraint and reflecting on perspective can deter impulsive and ill-informed decisions not characteristic of a good digital citizen.  



Coiro, J. (2017, August 29). Teaching Adolescents How to Evaluate the Quality of Online Information.  

Floridi, Luciano. Information a Very Short Introduction. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2010.  

Neil Selwyn and Peter Jandrić, “Postdigital Living in the Age of Covid-19: Unsettling What We  See as Possible,” Postdigital Science and Education (2020). 

Marc Prensky, “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom,” in From Digital Natives to Digital  

Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin,  2013), 201-15  

Prensky, M. (2001, October). Digital natives, digital immigrants: A new way to look at ourselves  and our kids,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf 



3 Lessons of Distance Learning

It’s just after 5 am and I’m wide awake. I was occupied by my excitement for football. I had seriously questioned if it would even happen this year, but its return brought about some sense of normalcy I desperately craved. Springing carefully from bed in hopes of not bothering my wife, I eagerly stumble downstairs to situate myself correctly for the day. I orient my tv to the proper channels and prepare my computer for all of my fantasy football websites. I could not wait to watch my beloved Seahawks to finally take the field. This season would begin tremendously different for both players and coaches, but my traditional Sunday morning routine for this time of year was a familiar one. 

Pregame shows of various networks were highlighting interviews and holding discussions about how unique this season would be. On the field, it is still football, but there are new, unparalleled challenges that the league, the organizations and the players would have to address. A pandemic forced the parties involved to reexamine how to prepare for and play football in a safe and responsible way. With so much uncertainty and uncharted waters to navigate for this upcoming season, I could not help but reminisce on similar feelings I experienced when COVID-19 forced school closures. 

I can still vividly remember scanning the room and seeing the wide spectrum of emotions my students displayed while our principal, over the intercom, announced that they would be sent home with no return date scheduled. Some were thrilled, some visibly worried, and I had no idea that this was going to be my last day as a classroom teacher (I have since taken a position working for my district). NFL coaches like Pete Carroll had the luxury of a few months to prep their plans for the upcoming season and prepare their approaches to online communication and learning with their players. But my colleagues and I had less than a week to almost completely transform our practice. 

So, I’d thought it would be apropos for my first blog post to reflect on 3 of my most valuable learning experiences by writing some advice for my former self. A common reflection exercise, this is a great reminder for me to carry these lessons into new challenges that I face ahead, but I also hope that, with many schools still not open, there is an educator out there who finds some value in them as well. 

Dear former self,

  1. Take Risks – Try new ways to engage your students but do not do so half-heartedly. Now is a great time to experiment, but do so with intention. There is a tremendous opportunity for growth here that can’t be achieved unless you push yourself to be uncomfortable. You will be trying new instructional strategies and routines adapted to remote learning for the first time. Measure effectiveness and continue to work for improvement. It will be inevitable that you experience frustration and doubt. The key, though, is to stay focused on growth and always celebrate achievement no matter how small or grandeur it may be. In doing so, you can provide one of the best lessons for your students by modeling transparency, empathy, and vulnerability. Share with them the risks that you are taking and communicate the reasons for it. They will appreciate this more than you will know in the moment.
  1. Give Grace – Give grace for yourself and your students. Moving to full-time online learning presents unique challenges that you nor the students have experienced before. This dramatic shift in the learning environment also exacerbates the challenges your students were bringing with them into the classroom and illuminating the critical role schools played in supporting their social-emotional needs (Kaden, 2020). Your simple acts of kindness and compassion will have a direct effect on their capacity for learning and motivation to engage with your class. Never sacrifice energy to check-in on their health and wellness for instructional planning or grading time. Performance, engagement, and attendance should not influence your interest in them. Giving grace also means providing space for your students to pair their interests and curiosity with learning. You should not only affirm when students “get it”, but also affirm that they are working hard and that they are trying; whatever that may look like (Su, 2016). Grace is the greatest of all your students’ needs.  
  1. Provide Choice – Duh, right? This isn’t new knowledge but there is value in explicitly calling it out. Best practice centers students’ interests as the driver of their learning. An unprecedented change caused by COVID-19 has created student schedules that are fluid. The need for choice in what they learn, and how they demonstrate their learning, is vital for engagement in this distanced learning environment (Kaden, 2020). You are also recognizing the myriad of learning and equity challenges that your students face. This is where technology can be leveraged so long as you ensure there is access. A singular model for online learning will not work for all of your students, so it is important to stay flexible and focus on mitigating their obstacles (Kaden, 2020). A culturally responsive online classroom offers both asynchronous and synchronous options as well as individual and collective learning. Providing multiple avenues for learning and assessment will be consuming, but the increase in student agency will be some of the most rewarding work you have ever done.


Kaden, U. (2020). COVID-19 school closure-related changes to the professional life of a K–12 teacher. Education Sciences, 10(6), 165. 

Su, F.E. (2016, January 18). The lesson of grace in teaching.,student%20by%20your%20own%20weakness.

*Note – still figuring out CSS codes for hanging indents on both citations

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