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From Beer Jokes to Shelter to Place in Two Weeks: Look to the Helpers, Then Stay the F Home

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

(If you'd like to skip straight to the resources rather than reading my thoughtful commentary... it's okay. I get it. Scroll until you see movie stills from Spaceballs. If you don't know Spaceballs, well, it's like a normal day in my undergrad class where my jokes and movie references fall flat. Carry on, and scroll until you see a bunch of links.

A few weeks ago, I sat at this same computer and wrote a commentary to my undergraduate teacher education students, in which I cheekily berated my partner for upsetting my 14 and 10 year old about the Corona virus, then settling down with beer jokes and watching Back to the Future while I was left to calm the children, going over realistic fears, reasonable (I thought) expectations, handwashing procedures (that they were always supposed to do, ahem), and taking them to the CDC website (not as informative in my opinion, by the way, I much prefer the WHO website, nowadays, but I didn't have much of an opinion "back then"). That was only a month ago. Not even a month! Last night, several counties in California received a shelter in place directive.

But we're here now.

We've all seen them. The social distancing graphs. The importance of flattening the curve. Or my favorite, cattening the curve.

And, the total assessment nerd that I am, I even got to use the "flatten the curve" lesson in my Assessment and Gifted Education classes, tying it to to lessons about assessment and podcasts like this awesome RadioLab about the Miseducation of Larry P.

Yes, my students love me, why do you ask? Okay, maybe love is strong.

But, what it's been quite a journey. From have a great spring break to "don't come back". Our students are confused, anxious, overwhelmed, concerned. And that's on top of what they were already dealing with as college students. I know, college students are "technically" adults. But really, they're still developing, in so many ways. Paul Brown can take you through the highlights (below) with a visual representation using the subway system as an analogy.

The graphic below is the Social Cognitive Career Theory- it's a one-shot picture, just to get an idea of what a hot mess of emotions the typical college kiddo is! Ellis & Chen used this model with diverse populations, including a study of the perceptions of college students categorized as undocumented immigrants.

Why is all of this important? It gets back a central belief in education. I call it the Maslow before Bloom principle, but Carla Shalaby in Troublemakers, simply calls it "Be Love", which I like as well. Take care of basic needs, comfort, security, stability, safety, connection... Mental and physical health matter. Universities around the country, and many K-12 schools as well, have been called upon to transition to online classes (though at my university, we were luckily provided an extra week of spring break- I think to help the faculty transition and to give the students a week to decompress, and I greatly appreciate it. I know of one K-12 district that was given ONE staff development day to prep!) We have to recognize as we plan our courses and instruction online, that while our universities are leading the charge that "high quality instruction will continue as always" our first priority needs to be the safety and security of our students. Oh, and by the way, many of us have OUR kids at home with us too!

I've been on social media a lot lately. Social media and social distancing are very different. It's allowed! I know, I should be grading. I should be writing. I should... And I am, I promise.

This twitter post gave me some insight into my lack of ability to focus:

And I've been so heart-full to see posts from:

-author Bettina Love, about picking up groceries for neighbors.

-our local elementary school filling 5 cars of food to feed children while the schools are closed for two -weeks.

-activist/organization Clear the Air asking "how can we support you?"

-teachers/specialists posting their areas of specialty online with "copy and repost" so everyone knows who to contact if they need help with their little ones' work at home.

Mr. Rogers, oh Mr. Rogers, there for us in the time of crisis. I see you. And I see the helpers.

And then I saw a post from my first (and only) student teacher from (cough) a few years ago (cough cough) maybe 15? It started with the copy/repost of the standard teacher message. But then it continued:

However, if things get worse, you will be stressed and so will your kids. Arguing with them to sit down and do the packets that have been assigned isn’t good for anyone. Don’t stress about them, do some when you can or don’t.....just spend time together. Cuddle up together and read, do a puzzle, build a fort, cook something, paint, look at pictures or just talk to them.

Though it is a scary time, it could very well be a time they remember as the best time of their life having you around a little more than usual! ❤️

Mary T., how I love you. You rock.

And so instead of copying and reposting the standard message, I copied and reposted hers.

It's kinda like I tweeted the other day:

My course messaging to my students is mental/physical health and family first. We’ll take care of the academics... And that was before COVID 19! Now I’m all “take only what you need to survive” from my syllabus. Only what’s essential makes it.

Movie Stills — Spaceballs ©1987 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

So, back to the original point of this post (there was one, I promise!)


The helpers near and far have been posting resources. I have not verified these personally, I am only gathering what I have seen shared on "The Twitter" and "The Facebook". These are national resources as far as I know, and they are reported to be free, however I have not checked them all, and I don't know whether they are limited to K-12 or include IHE. I've emailed these out to people and shared with group. As people email me back with additional Resources, I will add to this list. I am not the originator of most of these resources. As I've added, I've started to put them in some semblance of an order/categorization, but other than that, they're just in the order of how I've seen them. If you find anything on the list that isn't accurate, please let me know and I'll add a note.

Personal note for parents:

I know, I said I was done blogging. Sorry about that. Here's the deal. You're not a homeschooler (except maybe if you are, ha!) That's not your role right now. You're holding things together, chances are, while also working form home. Give yourself and your kiddos a break. You don't need. tocraft expert lessons. These resources are primarily for teachers whose job it is to transition to online learning. Yes, you can use them, for sure, have a ball! But don't sweat it. Enjoy your kiddos. Read a book, play with legos, and take care of their hearts. The top list of resources is a "hands off" for parents list- kind of a "I need a break before I tear out my hair, sit and watch/do this thing". We've all been there. As parents, as teachers (I love drop everything and read time. Sometimes twice a day). I'm not saying you can't work on lessons if that's your goal- you do you :) Follow that arrow where ever it leads. But please, don't feel like you need to. Chances are (best guess on my part), if schools close it will be for online instruction, not fully shuttered. Teachers will be planning instruction, you'll just need to support and facilitate at home. If you are trying to play lessons, you might want to plan small- for every 30 minutes of lesson, plan at least 15 minutes of play/choice/free time. Or for an hour of lesson (older kids), 30 minutes of play/choice.

Things for Kids to Do (Parents, you get a break)

Time-Sensitive Activities/Events

Specific Activities/Lessons


Virtual Tours

Teacher How-Tos

  • College How-to: Record Webinar Meeting Students' Basic Needs and Keeping them Enrolled During COVID-19

Helping Kids (and Big Kids) Feel Safe

And please... don't forget to PLAY!

I'll save my lecture on play (you're welcome) since this is the resources section.

Reminders, if you go to a park (outside- fresh air- good!)

  • Social Distancing- still important- 6ft distance remains in effect

  • Only go with/play with the people that you live with, no play dates

  • Do not play on play structures- the virus can live for several days on plastic and metal (I've read different reports from CDC and WHO, anywhere from 2 to 9 days)

  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after!

Other ideas:

(all include wiping down materials with clorox wipes before/after, and washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before/after)

  • Outside fun like flying kites, playing soccer, riding bikes, going on a hike, jumping rope, taking the dogs on an extra long walk

  • Hide and go seek

  • Have the kids create the rules to a new game

  • Break out the board games and create your own rules

Not to get all technical on you (that's the lecture-y Dr. Novak coming out), but PLAY should be spontaneous and self-directed!) But sometimes we need a little kick in the pants/inspiration...

Be safe. Be well. Be love.

(My thanks to Carla Shalaby for the last one!)

For additional ideas on social distancing and a helpful "Self-Quarantine Manifesto", visit



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