Pivoting, Partnering, and Sensemaking

How Teachers Navigate the Transition to Remote Teaching Together


  • Jillian M. Conry Southern Methodist University
  • Ann M. Wernick Southern Methodist University
  • Paige Ware Southern Methodist University




teacher education, emergency remote teaching, technology, crisis sensemaking


Across the globe, the emergence of COVID-19 led to widespread, sudden suspension of in-person instruction, displacing more than 1.5 billion learners (Capilla et al., 2020). Addressing the gap in research on emergency remote teaching (ERT), this empirical study draws on insights from semi-structured interviews with 10 in-service and five pre-service teachers, who navigated the transition both as K–12 teachers and graduate students, participating in weekly mentoring for English language learners, online curricular modules, face-to-face discussions (until the transition to ERT), mixed-reality simulation teaching with coaching, and written reflections. Using a sensemaking theoretical framework, our study examines the following questions: (1) What were the main challenges and opportunities of ERT as experienced by this cohort of language teachers? (2) How did the dual role of being a K–12 teacher and graduate student provide a unique lens for navigating these challenges and opportunities? (3) What tools or supports helped these language teachers through the transition to ERT? Thematic analysis revealed three themes (emotion, shared meaning, and technology) and illuminated connection as an overarching theme. Findings suggest that the experience of navigating the transition from both positions led to greater empathy, increased facility using technology, and a growing support network of fellow teacher-learners.

Author Biographies

Jillian M. Conry, Southern Methodist University

Jillian Marie Conry (PhD) is a Research and Evaluation Coordinator in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University. Formerly a bilingual classroom teacher, her research focuses on ways to support language learners as well as their teachers and families by leveraging technology.

Ann M. Wernick, Southern Methodist University

Ann Marie Wernick is a Graduate Research Assistant and doctoral student in the Simmons School of Education at Southern Methodist University. Her research interests coalesce around understanding and supporting teacher learning for preservice and in-service teachers, and designing collaborative learning spaces for teachers to enact skills, receive feedback, and construct knowledge.

Paige Ware, Southern Methodist University

Paige Ware (PhD) is a Professor of Education and Associate Provost for Faculty Success at Southern Methodist University. Her research examines interactive technologies for fostering intercultural engagement among youth within local and international partnerships, and also mixed-reality simulations for supporting teacher learning about language education.


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How to Cite

Conry, J. M., Wernick, A. M., & Ware, P. (2022). Pivoting, Partnering, and Sensemaking: How Teachers Navigate the Transition to Remote Teaching Together. CALICO Journal, 39(1), 53–78. https://doi.org/10.1558/cj.19668