I don’t know about you, but I have really been feeling the pressure to reach out and get all of the resources I can to make distance learning meaningful and engaging for my students. My efforts have not been in vain. I am subscribed to several groups, organizations and mailing lists that have generously shared incredible resources…however, I am really starting to feel overloaded. I find myself being very critical of my lessons and my entire teaching style because, “I can not do what these other teachers are doing.”
Many teachers I have spoken to are feeling the very same way. They have shared that this overload of information and resources makes them want to shut down completely. I know that this is not the intent of our internet influencers and creators. They want to help and we are grateful for the help but we need to learn how to filter these offers and pace our learning process.
Here are some things we can do to protect ourselves from Resource Overload:
- Honestly assess your skills without judgement:
Make a list of the tools, apps, websites and extensions you feel comfortable using to teach. Ask yourself, “Can I effectively and comfortably teach the standards with these tools? There is a wide spectrum of technological skills amongst teachers and we each fall into different places. There is no judgement on your current position. Knowing where you are empowers you to make meaningful goals for yourself. It will also help you filter out resources that you do not currently need.
- Choose 1 or 2 programs/skills you would like to delve into:
Have you fallen into the black hole of the “free resources” that offer you free training? Are you then hard on yourself because you don’t take those opportunities for growth? Don’t be. Instead, choose 1 or 2 skills you want to develop and FILTER OUT the rest. For example, you may want to get better at creating interactive google slides and importing them into Canvas. Therefore, you will only keep an eye out for Interactive Google Slides and Canvas Assignment resources. Giving yourself these temporary blinders will keep you from getting spooked. Check out this tutorial on how to set up filters in your gmail to control who can send you messages and where they go in your inbox.
- Stick with Your Strengths:
What tools are you really good at using? I like to claim that I am very good with Google Slides and Youtube. These two tools currently satisfy the needs of my students and me. I can create beautiful visulas, manipulatives, insert youtube videos, fill-in-the-blanks etc. I dabbled in some other apps but then started feeling overwhelmed for various reasons. I decided to stick with what I know. I am happy to say I have saved myself from the frustration of learning too many new programs in the middle of the school year. Making this decision has allowed me to continue to dig deeper into these skills. What are your strengths?
- Decide what skills/resources are necessary :
In our district, Canvas is necessary because it is essentially our new classroom. We must know how to build pages, assignments etc. We also rely heavily on Google Suite tools (now called Google workspace) such as gmail, google calendar, google docs, google forms etc. I would certainly consider these google tools to be necessary to learn because our district relies heavily upon them. Currently, for me, Kami, Flipgrid, Seesaw, Canva etc are extras. They are incredible programs but I want to make sure I spend any extra time I have mastering the necessary skills/programs first. When I am feeling grounded and empowered, I will branch out into the extras.
- Make a List of things you want to learn over time:
Many of us have our hands and minds full but we still have the desire to grow and learn new skills. There is nothing wrong with having a growth mindset. We should feel the desire to grow. When I come across a program or skill that I would like to eventually learn, I simply add it to a list in my Google Keep. Then when I have some breathing room, I can open that list and do some exploring over time.
- Be Ok with where you are:
You are an educator and you love knowledge. You love your students. You must also love yourself. Your wonderful, intelligent and unique self. As many times we are encouraged not to compare ourselves with others, we do. This is perfectly normal. It is what inspires us to grow and become better human beings. However, we must realize that we are all on our own journey and learn at our own pace. It would be nice to know it all, but we never will. Instead of allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed by what we don’t know, we must be OK with where we are. When this happens, we are able to come out of “burnout mode” and relax into all of the natural instincts that initially led us into teaching. From this relaxed and peaceful place, we will be able to wisely sift and sort through the surplus of information we are receiving and pluck out the very best items to enrich our students.
You have been chosen to guide the students you have for a reason. You have the skills, knowledge and passion to give them just what they need. So take a deep breath, relax and enjoy how far you have come as an educator. You’ve got this!