It’s Time for a Walk and a Letter to Yourself

A MiddleWeb Blog

If you sit still for just two or three seconds, you will hear it. It is the collective sigh releasing bittersweet relief as this school year ends around the nation.

The individual and collective sighs sound something like this: We did it. We made it through this school year. This sensation is something that connects all of us.

Although we were “all in this together,” our lived experiences through teaching and learning during the COVID pandemic resulted in very personal challenges as well as clearly present, but not always so obvious, silver linings.

This post is dedicated to all of the educators who need an additional sense of community as you find some individual respite this summer.

In addition, it will serve co-teachers who choose to remain fully aware of this year’s experiences just long enough to transfer your new insights into the launch of the next school year. But first – embrace summer!

Starting with YOU

Co-teachers spent so much of their time collaborating and responding to the countless external responsibilities—not to mention the additional challenges brought on this past year as we all traversed teaching and learning during a global pandemic. Now it is time to go within! Here are two easy ways to begin:

1. Go for walks! We do our best thinking while we just mindfully walk. Do not take my word for it. Check out this article on The Science of Why You Do Your Best Thinking While Walking.

2. Write a Summer Letter to Yourself! This year was quite a unique experience. Why not document some key ideas that will likely empower you in the fall. What did you do differently this year? How did you, your co-teacher, and your students respond? What is it you want to remember?

Either tuck the letter away and reread it later to guide you as the new school year begins – or rip it up and throw it away! It is a win-win sense of freedom that will allow your mind to clear and your teaching engines to simmer for a some well-deserved weeks.

At a point not too far away, you will give in to that co-teaching voice that will visit every so often. When you are ready to pay attention to that voice, consider all the silver linings that co-teaching afforded you during this past year. Take those silver linings and transfer them to your new co-teaching year!

Co-Teaching as Embedded Professional Development

As I worked closely with co-teachers this past school year, one prevalent theme was the gratitude that co-teachers had for having someone right by their side. One co-teacher shared: “I don’t know what I would have done if I wasn’t co-teaching with my colleague. It was a constant source of support and learning together.”

Another co-teacher reflected about her partnership experience: “Now that we are both more comfortable with technology, we have so many ways to co-plan and figure out the best ways to teach the kids.”

My own experiences have proven, as this teacher shares, that co-teaching helps new and veteran teachers alike. This year also illuminated a few necessary co-teaching behaviors that supported co-teaching remotely, but are needed anytime co-teaching is happening!

And finally, the tips I share in this blog post are still relevant as we make our way back into the classrooms as the new school year emerges.

Staying Connected

I plan on taking my own advice this summer. I will certainly continue to make time for walks in nature with their fine balance of mindful, quiet moments each day. And as a result of this intentional “time within,” I have energy galore!

I will be coordinating a Summer Resiliency CAMP program for middle school students in grades 6-8. Summer just would not be the same if I did not have a balance of continued collaboration with colleagues and time learning with students!

I plan to share some highlights on Twitter – so stay connected to hear about my adventures with the CAMP program. Also, add comments or questions in the comments section below on anything co-teaching or spark a conversation on Twitter (find me @ElizabethLStein) or leave a comment for me at

Enjoy and Happy Summer, everyone!

Feature image by Audrius Vizbaras from Pixabay 

Elizabeth Stein’s Two Teachers in the Room provides a wealth of practical strategies and tips to help K–12 educators co-teach more effectively. Stein presents examples of different co-teaching models and shows how to cultivate a dynamic co-teaching relationship to benefit all students. Click on the book cover here and use the code MWEB1 to receive a 20% discount at the Routledge site.

Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein has more than 20 years teaching experience spanning grades K-8, specializing in universal design for learning and special education. She’s currently a special education/UDL instructional coach and new-teacher mentor in Long Island NY’s Smithtown Central School District. Elizabeth is National Board Certified in Literacy, and a contributor to Education Week and other publications. Her books include Comprehension Lessons for RTI (Grades 3-5) (Scholastic, 2013), Elevating Co-Teaching Through UDL (CAST, 2016) and Two Teachers in the Room: Strategies for Co-Teaching Success (Routledge, 2017). Follow her on Twitter @elizabethlstein and #coteachat

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