Learning About Yourself As You Shift to Home-Based Learning

Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda

Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda are authors, friends, and colleagues. They co-authored the 2017 book, Students at the Center: Personalized Learning with Habits of Mind.


We all travel frequently on airplanes. Remember what the flight attendant says to us in anticipation of a crisis? “Be certain that you put the oxygen mask on you before trying to help a child or other.” This is a time to remind you that you need to breathe. Whatever you find is best that settles you, helps you to retain your balance, and especially ways that you have found to make the most of difficult situations will be helpful now.

Educator Reflections

As we shift into a different learning ecosystem, keep a journal to document ideas, feelings, and actions throughout the journey. Perhaps you may find value in reflecting on these questions to help with your transition and turn lemons into lemonade:

What do I know about myself and how do I manage to persist and remain hopeful in the face of a crisis? Use this as an opportunity to discover your strengths from prior experiences. Think back to a previous crisis that you had to manage. What did you do?

What will you miss most about not being with your learners in your classroom and your school? What ideas do you have to maintain your relationship with your learners?

How might this experience strengthen your work with learners? In what ways might you learn more about where your learners get stuck or are excited about an idea or are looking for someone to respond to what they are doing with wonderment and awe?

What questions do you have as you construct planning for your learners? What are you wondering about how the online learning experience will be? How can you find out more about how they learn best?

How might you find a way to open the online learning with some questions that will help you know more about where they are in this online learning experience? Are there ways that you might keep track of their experiences as an online learner? What keeps them disciplined? How do they manage distractions? What have they learned about what they need to persist when they are not sure what to do?

Learner Reflections

Many of the suggestions may find a home in your lesson planning. Remembering that this is a moment in time. Schools will reopen and life will move on. Don’t lose what you learn during this time. Here are some possible journal entries for your learners:

  • Often, in class, we think interdependently. How was your thinking affected by being online as a learner?
  • What helped you to stick with the tasks when you did not have the discipline of being in a classroom?
  • What did you learn about what you need in order to learn successfully?

Coming Back to School Reflections

Idea #1: When you know that school will reopen, ask your learners to send you an email. Ask them to summarize the answers to those questions.

Idea #2: Enlist parents (e.g., design a survey, provide several prompts) to describe what they discovered about their children’s capacity to manage themselves, problem solve, create, and engage in learning.

Idea #3: Think about how re-entry to the formality of schooling. Design an activity, perhaps using magic marker and chart paper, in which they work in groups to design a visual, some insights, some wonderings that represent some key ways that they managed to learn during the home- based experience.

Idea #4: Ask learners to bring a representation (e.g., illustration, song lyric, object) to show how they felt when they were home and had more unstructured time but confined to a location. Have them share in a conversation about what they learned about themselves and what might be helpful to transfer as they are back in school.

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