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You Matter To Me: A Story of Connection and Belonging Shared by Tess Perry and Kelly Shin

Tess and Kelly teach Grade 3 at Quigley Elementary. They work closely together so they can bounce ideas off each other, lean into their own strengths, help each other find solutions, and learn a lot from each other. However, it is even more important to them to collaborate so they can feel connected to someone who understands what they are going through, who can empathize with them, and can lift them up when they are down. They strive to create these same opportunities for their students.

During these difficult and ever-changing times, it is even more important to them that they stay connected with their students and families and create flexible learning opportunities for their learners. They have been listening closely to feedback so they can continue to change what they are doing so students feel like they belong to this school family, and are comfortable to stretch themselves with their learning as much as they are able.

As they began to think about how they might design remote continuous learning opportunities for their students, they asked themselves some key questions.


1. How might we make sure that we are not overwhelming parents and students with their learning?

They knew that they definitely did not want to overwhelm their students and families during this time, and were very aware that each student and family situation is very different. They decided to create a flexible learning plan so their students could engage in the amount and pace of learning that made sense for them, when it made sense for them. On the main page of their website, and what they shared in conversation with all of their families, they show their framework of must do, can do, and could do. As you can see below, their MUST DO is centered around connecting and feeling safe.

Read this excerpt from their message to parents

These are crazy times that we are experiencing. It breaks our hearts to know we won't be seeing our wonderful grade threes this week or in the weeks to come. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we continue to navigate how to provide an education for our students.

Let's operate on a "must do- can do- could do" set of parameters.

  • Must do - keep you and your family safe, help prevent the spread, connect with your child, recognize that we are all under stress and what our children need most is love and reassurance.

  • Can do - there is one BOLDED lesson and activity per day in the weekly schedule (see an example here) that students can do. We will focus on foundational literacy and numeracy skills. Please follow along with the video and assignment posted each day. Of course, reading for 25 minutes each day is important too!

  • Could do - additional activities are posted (assignments, activities, videos, etc.,) in the weekly schedule (do what you can manage). These are to help families and students who want more things to learn.

You know what is best, do what is right for you and your family right now!

Watch them explain their learning framework: WATCH VIDEO

2. How might we organize the learning for students to make it easier for them and their families?

Tess and Kelly have chosen a few skills that they want their students to continue to grow as they learn at home. They have focused on literacy and numeracy, and continue to offer art and physical health opportunities

The three learning goals are clearly laid out for students at the top of each weekly learning chart.

They also wanted to make certain that the way that they organized the learning is both clear and simple for their families to navigate. They create a weekly learning plan in the form of a table. Each day has a bolded lesson that students could do.

The lessons have been created as videos that students can watch so they can see their teachers and the teachers can explain the learning that students are being asked to do. This way, families don’t have to figure out what the learning is themselves. Any simple learning activities can be found with the videos. *See an example of their weekly lesson here.

Watch how they organize their learning to make it simple for families: WATCH VIDEO

3. How might we continue to connect with our students in different ways that best suit all of our needs?

Tess and Kelly are creating videos each week so their students can see their faces and feel connected with them. They also want the learning to feel familiar to their students, and want to take the burden of teaching off of the families. Each week:

  • Kelly makes 3 videos: in one she continues reading a novel to her students, in another she teaches students a writing lesson, and, finally, she creates a video that shows her students an art project they can do.

  • Tess makes 3 videos: in one she continues to teach about fractions, in another she teaches students a reading power lesson, and finally, she creates a video to help her students learn or practice a physical skill, like juggling or working out.

They create these videos with their phones and don’t waste time editing them to make them ‘perfect.’ Each week, they also host zoom calls with all of their students so the students can connect with them ‘in person’ and can see and connect with all of their peers. Students and families can also sign up to join small group zoom meetings to get extra help or just to connect more with their peers and teachers. During this time, Tess and Kelly record any successes, challenges, or feedback that they can use to modify the learning.

Watch how they are connecting with their students: WATCH VIDEO

4. How might we collaborate with others so we feel less isolated, and can create a sense of belonging and connectedness with each other?

Tess and Kelly continue to work together so they can feel connected to each other. They zoom with each other every morning, and they share how things are going and how they are doing and feeling about teaching in this way. They laugh, they cry, they celebrate. They also share how the students that they are connecting with are doing, and any feedback they are hearing from families. And, they teach each other, plan together, bounce ideas off each other, and share the work with each other. It is clear that they really enjoy working with each other and miss seeing each other in person!

Watch how they are collaborating and helping each other: WATCH VIDEO


A huge thank you to Tess and Kelly for making themselves vulnerable and sharing what they are doing so far!

To see more of what Tess and Kelly are doing…

  1. Tess and Kelly post a weekly plan on their website. See a copy of that plan here. Also, see a blank template of their weekly plan.

  2. See the schedule that they use to record successes, challenges, and goals that students share with them during small group zoom conferences.

  3. Check out the template they made to track the zoom meetings they are hosting throughout the week.

To see examples of what other educators are doing, click here: primary, intermediate, middle, and secondary. For more ideas about how to schedule learning, click here.

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