The banner across the top of the Stenhouse website reads “for teachers, by teachers.” This has always been Stenhouse’s tagline, but more than that, it is our core belief. We believe in creating a space for teachers’ voices. And while perhaps this doesn’t seem like a particularly radical idea—that teachers have ideas, practices, and expertise worthy of listening to, in our current environment it sometimes does.
When school buildings closed in March, we listened to our teacher colleagues and friends wonder how they would connect with students and how teaching and learning would work in online environments. Teachers showed up for students in amazing ways. One teacher we know called a student without internet access every day to read aloud to him, talk with him about his favorite chapter book series, and let him know that she was still there. Other teachers drove to students’ homes to drop off food and school supplies. Teachers worked tirelessly to learn new technology tools and engage students online. And they did this work at great personal sacrifice to themselves and their families.
This fall, we watched our teacher colleagues return to school, some returning to school buildings in ways they never could have imagined. Others meeting their new students online and facing the challenges of building communities amongst people who may never have met in person.
Throughout this pandemic we have watched teachers do incredible work, but we have also watched them face seemingly insurmountable challenges. One teacher friend shared: “Before all of this, I knew who I was as a teacher—I knew how to build community and relationships with and amongst students. I knew what I was still learning and what I might want to learn next. And then, overnight, I didn’t. I felt lost. I felt like I lost my identity.”
As we at Stenhouse have listened to teachers, we have wondered about our role in this new teaching and learning landscape. What could we possibly have to offer teachers in this time in which no one is an expert, and we are all struggling to find our footing?
There is no magical book coming off the press with all the answers to distance learning. And while there are plenty of experts offering teachers advice from beyond the classroom, we at Stenhouse want to focus on the core belief on which we were founded—offering a space for writing by teachers, for teachers.
So, we are proud to share a new blog series with you called One Thing You Might Try . . . written by teachers who are figuring out teaching and learning in their online or socially distanced classrooms and schools. None of them would claim to be “the expert,” but we think their collective expertise is invaluable.
Each One Thing You Might Try . . . piece will feature practical teacher-to-teacher ideas, strategies, and tips that are rooted in deeply held beliefs. In these pieces you will read about how teachers are building communities by trusting and listening to students and families, how they are reimagining traditional school practices in ways that work for their current students and environment, how they are disrupting inequities they see, and how they are advocating for their students.
We hope you’ll follow along with the One Thing You Might Try . . . blog series and add to the conversation here in the comments and on social media using the hashtag #OTYMT. We look forward to hearing what you try and continuing to learn together.
With deep respect,
The Stenhouse Editors
Look out next week for our first One Thing You Might Try . . . blog post from educator, parent, and writing contributor, Grace Choi, titled "Rethinking Reading at Home."