Maine Teachers of the Year and County Teachers of the Year are keeping their professional and social relationships strong by scheduling regular social hours through online video conferencing. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools around the state to close their doors and continue providing learning opportunities remotely, the meet-ups provide the teachers with a bit of professional and emotional solace from the challenges and changes caused by the pandemic.
A program of the Maine Department of Education, the Maine State Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association (MSTOYA), who have both been instrumental in keeping educators of the program connected by scheduling a time and providing a virtual space for the meetings.
Among the topics discussed in the most recent meeting was practicing work/life balance while teaching from home. Suggestions from the group included taking the weekends off, checking in regularly with other educators and each other, getting exercise, and taking breaks every day. The educators also discussed conducting remote classes outdoors if possible and scheduling virtual lunches with students as a way to stay connected, social, and to lift the spirits of themselves and their students.
The group plans to continue the virtual meet ups for as long as needed. The next meeting topic is going to be effective strategies for engaging students in remote learning.
MSTOYA says that the meet-ups are open to its members and to anyone who is seeking a supportive team at this time. For more information, contact Karen MacDonald firstname.lastname@example.org.