Special Edition Covid-19 Episode

Welcome to Inspired Proficiency and thank you for joining us for this special COVID 19 edition. As always, please tweet any takeaways and inspirations to #inspiredproficiency. Don’t forget that Ashley and her podcasts are also on Facebook in the group “Inspired Proficiency Teacher Collaboration” with lots of great ideas for the classroom.

Download the episode here or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts here or find it wherever you listen to podcasts! 

Today’s episode:

Today Ashley has put on a special episode to help share what teachers are doing for this unprecedented COVID 19 school closure. There are resources here for teachers who need help with what to do with their students.

Interview with Dr. Jessica Steiere Starts at 3:26Jessica Steier Headshot Portrait 2

  • She is a friend of Samara Spielberg (on the episode today).
  • Jessica is an expert and has a doctorate in Public Health, worked in the PH field for 10 years and more, has taught courses, consulted with cities, worked in epidemiology and biostatistics. She co-founded a company for consulting with analytics in healthcare and assessing the impact of policies and programs. Her company’s focus has shifted during the pandemic to assess what data is credible and translate it actionably for the general public.
  • The school closure is happening for a good reason to help the wellbeing of the general public.
  • This virus has a long incubation period (when we’re exposed to when we show symptoms).
  • The fly is 2 days, COVID is averaging 5 days. We can be contagious without symptoms.
  • The average is 5 days but it can incubate for 7 days in some cases.
  • Kids don’t seem to be impacted like adults but they are also part of spreading the disease so schools need to be closed.
  • Her professional opinion is that we waited too long to close schools. If we had done this sooner, we might have been out of school for less time but we didn’t so now we are where we are.
  • Her professional opinion about how long to be closed is related to the availability of testing. We don’t know the true number of cases without proper testing.
  • This WILL end, we just don’t know when!

TIPS from a Public Health Expert

  • Don’t let yourself lose your mind. Take care of yourself (and your families) but do something that helps you relax and unwind. Practice self care when you can!
  • Cancel any and all non essential appointments. Well visits, check ups, elective procedures. REALLY limit your exposure to others
  • Continue strict hygiene practices and EVEN practice social distancing within your home 
    • Someone in your house could have the virus and not know, especially children
  • The virus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours (some anecdotal evidence, not scientific says 9 days) So clean surfaces especially if you’re still receiving packages and deliveries, even leave them outside for a few days if you can, wipe the boxes and be really careful with the box and clean all the things
    • Think about ALL the points of contact that you touched if you MIGHT have touched something with the virus! Clean them all to kill any potential virus
    • Wash your hands thoroughly!
  • Be careful where you are getting your news
    • Good places for news!
    • Gargling with vinegar is NOT true
    • Drinking water to dilute the virus down to your stomach and your stomach acid will kill it is also NOT true


Interview with Samara starts at 15:24:

  • Samara was on earlier episodes talking about empathy in the classroom
  • She works at a k-8 all boys school in NYC and she is the Spanish department chair. She teaches grades 3-8.
  • Her situation right now is that her school is on spring break.
  • She was supposed to take 26 8th grade boys to Costa Rica but they had to cancel the trip.
  • Her school came together to send students home with:
    • 5 library books
    • packets from each class
    • a journal
    • a sketch pad for each kid
    • 1:1 laptops for grades 4-8
  • Spanish students were created a virtual portfolio option for grades 3-8. Examples here.
    • Each student made a Google Drive folder to share with us
    • Students will be keeping a log of what they did with reflection on what it told them about themselves as a learner
  • For Advisory we plan to meet with our Upper School advisory every day at 10:00 am.
  • If school is closed longer than expected, they’ll send home lessons with links in a Google Slide so students don’t have to look in a million places for what they need to do
  • Dr. Sonia Lupien says don’t N.U.T.S for stress
    • Give your students time to adapt to this too. It’s new for all of us AND it’s a crisis
    • Don’t expect too much
    • give yourself some grace
    • allow for flexibility
    • remember relationships are paramount
    • let yourself and your students have FUN
    • What you may have considered “fluff” before is actually integral to the wellbeing of your students and yourself
    • Work with colleagues  – Zoom with them for Happy Hour, or a book club, or a painting tutorial, or if you’re like me, do a digital dance party. 
    • Remember we are human and we thrive on connection, even in a crisis.
  • Challenges from Samara
  1. Have your students make their at home schedule in the target language, making sure to put in 3 breaks (at least one art, one movement), 2 things they’re looking forward to, and 1 act of kindness! Then have them ask parents to sign off on it. I constantly say “be a self-starter” in school, so let’s get them doing this out of school too.
    1. set up a suggested parent page on our sites with daily schedules as suggestions, GoNoodle & other online exercise tutorials to get the wiggles out, family workout videos, drawing tutorials like Art Hub for Kids, DuoLingo family challenge, family-friendly shows to watch as a family such as Nailed it, etc. 
    2. If you don’t have technology, packets could be mailed to each home with easy recipes, workout challenges, etc. 
    3. Also look up ways to receive free internet during this crisis.  
    4. These are all options you could add to a choice board. 
    5. Parents all over Twitter are pulling their hair out so it’s not just about students. We need to help everyone navigate this and show our students how to  be helpful to their parents.
  2. organize a pantry, learn to do laundry, make a how-to video setting the table, clean out a closet for donations – what did you keep? What did you decide to give away? 
    1. Start slowly and add more each day. 
    2. a “family scavenger hunt” could be a great way to bring people together. Snap a selfie doing family DEAR, take a video cooking together, recreate an old family photo. Etc. School’s social media accounts could post daily riddles or jokes. We need to bring silliness into this. 
  • It should not be called social distancing, it should be called physical distancing!
    • BE SOCIAL but not together
      • Host a virtual language lunch club for anyone in the community who wants to converse in the target language. Ice breaker? What are you eating!?
      • Imagine opening a Zoom invite to the community to do a collaborative workout or karaoke session led in the target language? I can see it now: Voy a reír, voy a bailar, vivir mi vida… perfect message! 
      • Invite your students (and parents and anyone in the community)  to join in a group GimKit, Quizet Live etc. 
  • SEL is important NOW MORE THAN EVER
    • daily kindness journal from Character Strong
    • Gratitude is a perfect thing to revisit right now. The work of Dr. Robert Emmons shows that practicing gratitude blocks negative emotions, strengthens social ties and self-worth, helps us with stress resilience, and forces us to celebrate the present! Get your students to record their gratitudes on Flipgrid! Sharing gratitude and positivity is just as contagious as the coronavirus. 
    • Encourage students to become a helper: Is there anyone elderly in your area that you can help? Ask them if you can go grocery shopping for them. Make the list in the target language and snap a selfie delivering the goods! (check out lets.dosomething.org for more ideas of how to help!)
    • Why not have your students write letters to nursing homes? There are many Spanish-speaking residents at many homes around the world who are in need of a pick-me-up at this time when they can’t have visitors. 
    • Practice perspective: now that you can feel what not getting to go to school feels like, what must it be like to be a student in Spain, France, China, etc. who is experiencing the same thing? Journal about it. 
    • Have your students make a poll in the target language and ask your #langchat colleagues to translate to other languages and share with their students. Share results with everyone! Hint: we skyped with Barcelona and Harry Potter, Tik Tok, and Fortnite were big connectors for us! 
    • Set up a penpal flip grid with kids from another country, or our own. There is no better time to show our students that we are all connected, we all share the same experiences, etc. 
    • Become a good news spreader! Go onto Upworthy.com or Goodnewsnetwork.org and spread the uplifting news. Look up 10 of the key words in the target language and teach them to your parents or Facetime your relatives you can’t see and teach them. Can you connect a gesture to them? Turn it into charades! Have a little sibling? Make a wordsearch with these new positive words! Spread the good vibes. Be sure to share the whole story- like the one of the cute penguins being allowed to roam the aquarium or the way that people in Spain are playing “veo veo”, I spy, from their balconies with all of their neighbors.  


Interview with Meredith starts at 57:30: 

    • Congrats to Meredith for being named teacher of the year in Georgia!
    • She was on a previous episode here!
    • She teaches Spanish 1 and 2 outside of Atlanta at the high school level.
    • Situation at school is out for digital days for 2 weeks.
    • Students are completing work at home so some teachers are doing office hours where kids can jump in or just complete work when they want to and submit it with deadlines.
    • Her district is very technology friendly to begin with so it’s going well.
    • She suggests trying Instagram if you’re interested in trying social media to interact with students and other teachers.


  • TIPS


    • Don’t compare yourself to other teachers, do YOU!
    • Don’t sign up for new things when you already have AWESOME things that you’re doing
    • Sign up for new things, but give yourself grace to try it and see how it goes
    • Don’t overwhelm kids with normally engaging and fun things because they don’t have you to help them like a regular class so start slow, start with less, and see where your students can go
    • Take care of YOU! Enjoy your coffee! Go to the restroom!
    • It might feel like a little bit of a break because IT CAN BE and you can enjoy and absorb that feeling and give yourself a break. We’re all going through this at the same time!
    • Don’t freak out!
    • Don’t reinvent the wheel! Do what you were already going to do as much as you can, just shift it for not in the classroom.
    • Align and collaborate with your department! What a better time to make sure you’re sending consistent messages from your teachers! It’s easier than you think! You can do it!
    • Don’t just collaborate with your department! Talk to the teachers of other subjects and see what they’re doing. Can you cross-curricular something during this time?
  • Should we be using COVID 19 as a topic right now? There is a big discussion happening all over social media between teachers!
    • Balance it with your kids! Some other teachers might be covering this in their classes so they might not want to or need to in the target language
  • Looking ahead we as a nation are going to need to have a discussion about school and what it was and what it could be with this closure, we’re all making it work the best we can!
  • We are not the same as other subjects so we need to figure out how to make language acquisition work with this new reality. We need to unite and figure this out!


Resources and links mentioned on the show:



  • Dr. Jessica Steiere
  • Samara Spielberg on Twitter and Instagram @SamaraSpielberg
  • Meredith White on Twitter @PRHSpanish


Season sponsorship brought to you by:


Episode sponsors:

  • World Language Classroom by Josh Cabral
  • El Mundo de Pepita resources in Spanish, French, Russian, German and ESL
  • A.C. Quintero and Jennifer Degenhardt and their classroom readers


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