A One-Week, Sanity-Saving Email Series for Parents Who Are Unexpectedly Rookie Teachers in Their Own Homes

Like many people, I’ve been wondering whether there’s any version of my “old normal” skills and experiences that might be remotely (in all senses of the word) helpful to others in our collective new normal. Among many other things, the Corona-crisis means parents of school-aged kids, myself included, are suddenly in charge of our kids’ education full time.

Fortunately for me, my “old normal” skills and experiences include over a decade of coaching teachers through the difficult arc of their first year on the job. In addition to having written two teaching-related books, I’m the proud creator of the New Teacher Disillusionment Power Pack, a free email series that has helped thousands of teachers through the most difficult phase of their rookie year. (The series was featured in an NPR story tellingly entitled Hey, New Teachers, It’s Okay to Cry in Your Car.) Each year, a new wave of rookies reaches out to say the series has kept them sane and in the classroom.

Except now, nobody is in a classroom.

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A Teacher’s Guide to Reluctantly Homeschooling Your Kids

I’m often disappointed at how little my teaching experience prepared me for parenting. Eleven years in front of the classroom has done nothing for my skills at managing supermarket tantrums, getting a toddler to finish a yogurt in less than two hours, or reliably getting dirty clothes placed into the hamper. So now, as school districts around the country announce coronavirus-related shutdowns, I’m no more excited than any other parent about becoming my kids’ full-time teacher until . . . whenever. In this one one small corner of our new parenting normal, however, instructional experience offers an edge. At the very least, I’ve been able answer some of the questions raised by non-teacher parent friends who are now, unexpectedly, rookie teachers in their own homes. Here are a few questions that teachers are used to addressing in their classrooms, and that non-teacher parents are now asking for the first time:

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Why I requested Roxana Ortega, who narrated “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” as the audiobook reader for “Adequate Yearly Progress.”

One of the habits I developed while writing and revising Adequate Yearly Progress was listening to specific sections of a few favorite audiobooks before sitting down to write. With a professional narrator’s voice in my head, unnecessary words or unclear phrasing became obvious. I could hear the poetic potential in lines that once seemed straightforward. Often, I’d choose what passages to listen to based on the tone and pacing of whatever part of my own book I was working on that day – kind of an audio-chapter playlist.

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Make Me or Break Me: A Poem for First-Year Teachers

Has anyone told you yet that the first year of teaching will make you or break you? People love repeating this sound bite. It rhymes, it’s clever-and, it’s absolutely terrifying.

Luckily, it’s also not that true. A truer (and more useful) statement is this: Almost all new teachers have days when they think they are being broken.
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