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Dedicated to Teachers

Flexible Thinking and Core Beliefs: Planning for a Very Different School Year

Flexible Thinking & Core Beliefs (2)By Christine Hertz and Kristine Mraz

We’re not going to sugar coat it. The start of this school year will be unlike the start of any other school year. Worries about safety, equity, and ever-changing realities wake us up in the early mornings wondering (and hoping, if we are honest) if it’s all just a terrible dream.

There is so much to miss and grieve about the way we used to start the school year. There are so many unknowns yet to figure out. It’s easy (and understandable!) to spiral into a pit of anxiety and to wallow in what’s out of our control. We’ve both been there and it’s a place we still visit from time to time.

So, what to do? We take several deep breaths and ask, “What can we do to make this work as well as possible?” We reach out to colleagues, we cultivate our most flexible thinking, we ask hard questions, and we return to our core beliefs about children, teaching, and learning. Formats change, platforms change, required minutes change, but our beliefs can be our anchors in the storm.

By revisiting our core beliefs, we can reflect on and plan for how we teach in virtual, distanced, and blended spaces. In Kids First From Day One, we offer suggestions and strategies for teaching with these beliefs in mind. We take a close look at our physical and social-emotional environments as well as the curriculum we build.

Here’s how some of those same beliefs would manifest into actions and impact our planning for the start of this, very, very different, school year:

1 Physical Environment JPGClick to view and download a PDF version. 

2 Social Emotional EnvironmentClick to view and download a PDF version. 

3 Responsive TeachingClick to view and download a PDF version. 


The only thing certain about this year is uncertainty. If we are aiming for a moving target, we will only ever be reactive. What is the target beyond this moment? Beyond this year? Strip your mind bare to its core beliefs, aim towards those lofty aspirations of what it means to be a teacher at its glowing core. You can do this; we can do this. Onward.

 • • • 

Christine Hertz and Kristine Mraz are the co-authors of Kids First from Day One
A Teacher’s Guide to Today’s Classroom. Learn more about this title at Heinemann.com. 

Download a Sample Chapter of Kids First From Day One

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christinehertzChristine Hertz is coauthor of the Heinemann titles ​Kids First from Day One ​and A Mindset for Learning. She finds great joy and challenge in helping all children grow as independent and engaged students. She is passionate about keeping play and creativity at the center of children's lives and curiosity and wonder at the heart of learning. Christine has taught in a wide variety of classrooms from preschool to fourth grade and as an adjunct instructor of education courses. She currently teaches in Worcester, Vermont. You can follow her on Twitter @christine_hertz or visit her web site at christinehertz.com.

kristinemrazKristine Mraz is coauthor—with Christine Hertz—of Kids First from Day One, which provides a practical blueprint for increasing the child-centeredness of your teaching practice. She and Christine previously teamed up for the bestselling A Mindset for Learning (coauthored with Christine Hertz), which provides practical and powerful strategies for cultivating optimism, flexibility, and empathy alongside traditional academic skills.

Kristi has also coauthored—with Alison Porceli and Cheryl Tyler—Purposeful Play, the book that helps you make play a powerful part of your teaching. She and Marjorie Martinelli wrote Smarter Charts and Smarter Charts for Math, Science, and Social Studies ​to get the most out of this classroom staple. Their popular blog Chartchums keeps teachers in touch with ongoing and relevant classroom issues and ways to use charts as a support. Chartchums is also on Facebook and on Twitter @chartchums!

Kristi is a recent transplant to southern California, where she will be writing and consulting until the classroom calls again. You can follow all of her adventures on Twitter @MrazKristine or on her blog, found at kristimraz.com.



Topics: Christine Hertz, Kristine Mraz, Kids First From Day One, Covid_19, Remote Learning

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