Imagine yourself sitting on a beautiful beach in the Philippines, enjoying a relaxing week off from school when your phone buzzes with messages. Your flight back to China has been cancelled. Your school is closed. You need to be ready to support teachers thousands of miles away who must start “home-based learning” on Monday.

That’s what happened to me, and as much as I wanted to chuck my phone into the ocean and go back to my coconut drink and my Michael Connelly novel, I knew I needed to get to work. The coronavirus had caught us by surprise and as a technology coach I knew I needed to work with our administrators, teachers, and learning support team to figure out a way to use the digital tools we had at our disposal to piece together an experience that would enable us to keep students connecting and learning from home.

Related content: 10 resources to keep learning going during the coronavirus

That was over a month ago. My school, based in Shanghai, China, still does not have a set date as to when campus instruction will resume. But as our home-based learning program has gone through numerous changes, tweaks, and modifications, we’ve effectively “built a plane in the air” and have learned quite a bit.

As many American technology coaches now find themselves in the same position I was a month ago, I encourage you to consider the following as you create your own home-based learning program and build your own airplane mid-flight:

1. “You must put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others” – You are no good to your students if you do not take care of yourself first. This is a stressful time. In our situation, we have teachers all over the world staying at hotels, bunking with friends or family, and responsible for providing home school for their own children as well as preparing lessons for home-based learning. You need to self-advocate for your own care and know your limits. Reach out to your team when you are overwhelmed and work together to share the load. If you are an administrator, make sure you ask your teachers about their situation and ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable.

If you are an educator impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and have tips, resources, or insight to share, eSchool News wants to hear from you. Please email Managing Editor Laura Ascione at

About the Author:

Dennis Grice is a technology coach at Concordia International School in Shanghai and a member of the Discovery Educator Network.