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Teachers take the lead on how to make ‘learning come alive’ for students during the time of coronavirus

Today, Mariah Morris, the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year, convened more than 80 educators from across the state on Facebook Live to discuss coronavirus and “to see how we as educators can respond to these uncertain, uncharted times.”

She was joined by the 2019 and 2020 regional teachers of the year (TOY).

“This is our time,” said Morris. “This is our time to shine and to show our communities across North Carolina that we can step up and we can lean in and we can do what it takes to meet our students’ needs as well as our communities needs.”

Posted by Mariah Morris on Sunday, March 15, 2020

Both TOY cohorts have adopted a pledge for “unity in community” since “public schools are the safety net for American families,” with four action steps including donations to local food pantries; donations to the United Way; working with community leaders to make sure students are fed, safe, and warm; and supporting students and teachers as they adapt to new modes of learning.

On Monday, March 16, the TOY cohorts will begin rolling out instructional videos on Morris’ YouTube channel. At 9 a.m. each day, an elementary lesson (grades K-5) will be posted, and then at 9:30 a.m. each day, a secondary lesson (grades 6-12) will be posted. Here are the specifics for teachers who want to participate:

Morris said these videos will provide “continuity for our students who need to see a teacher each day.”

The TOY cohorts also are working together to create a Google document compiling free teacher-vetted and teacher-approved materials and resources for students, parents, and teachers.

Morris noted that in addition to lesson plans, teachers will need to take care of students’ social and emotional needs. “We are literally providing those Maslow’s needs of our students,” she said.

Morris said state leaders are meeting virtually today at 3 p.m. to discuss what the next two weeks will look like for districts across the state.

Christy Clute Howe, the Southeast Region TOY, said, “This can be an opportunity to reimagine what is possible in teaching and learning.”

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC and the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.