After a Spring Romp with Online Learning... Are You Ready for Next Year?
After a Spring Romp with Online Learning...
Are You Ready for Next Year?
While district leaders meet to map out Plans A, B, C, and even Q, for what school will look like in the near future, individual teachers may feel like they can’t make classroom plans until they know the district approach. However, there are several things a classroom teacher can do to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year.
With so many questions and few answers we are willing to bet you have a few thoughts and insights on online teaching and learning due to Covid-19. Do any of these ring true for you?:
I am needed now, more than ever.
Where are the instructional technology folks when I need them?
I still have engagement problems.
How do I really know the students are learning?
Does my online instruction encourage compliant finishing of work or critical and creative thinking?
What’s really important here? Students dealing with isolation and uncertainty or completing #’s 1-15 in the textbook to get a grade?
One answer we can probably all agree on is that life (thus school) is going to change in the future as a result of halted school calendars, routines, and pedagogies. Try as we might, educators are notorious for building the plane as we fly it. It’s time for you and your professional team to not just plan for next year’s classroom, but to smartly plan.
Family Access First
Digital learning isn’t going anywhere. School Boards and Administrators have seen that first hand. First, ensure all students have internet access and devices to learn at home before school even starts. Begin new protocols and routines now while parents and students are becoming acclimated to the idea. Does that mean you need to be 1:1? Not at all. Rotate “at home” devices by groups, periods, grade, or content area. In addition, be cognizant that parents are likely to look back at their spring experiences and elect to put in their virtual “noise-cancelling earbuds” at the mere mention of any online learning at home.
You can get families on board with tech by training them on the basics. Offer in-person classes in the evenings or record a “lesson/presentation” and send it to them as a video. In some cases, it may even be worth going to the home and doing a brief training session. Tell them the purpose behind the tools students will be using. Put them at ease telling them knowing the basics will help their child in a meltdown when tech goes awry (and we know it does this often!)
Frontload teaching tech tools and digital citizenship at the beginning of the year
What three tools will you use all school year? SeeSaw? Google Classroom? Flipgrid? Double up by using those tech tools for your getting-to-know-you, beginning-of-the-year activities. Plan out the progression of skills it will take to use these tools independently by early November. Add instructional how-to videos and cheat-sheet resources so students learn how to access them on their own.
Three Things to Consider for Back to School
Child development and social emotional learning matters first
Don’t forget your students are children, not adults at the office. What can they handle in the classroom? Whatever it is, they can probably handle even less on a computer. Remember, in the classroom, teachers can usually tell when a student is stressed or confused. We don’t have that luxury in teaching online.
Tip: Make digital “homework” about social-emotional skills. Have students share in your Learning Management System, SeeSaw, Flipgrid, or even a text with you successes, concerns, feelings, or even a descriptive writing, “Homework at the Smith’s.” Enlist families on these lessons and ask for feedback.
Plan with others
Changes to student schedules may affect your planning time with your team or colleagues. Come up with planning protocols, including planning remotely, and embrace more heads for problem-solving.
Tip: Reach out to instructional technology coaches, librarians, department heads, administrators, or content specialists to attend. If you are the only one teaching your subject in your school, partner with others across the district, or create an integrated activity with another content area.
Use tech to your advantage
Flip your classroom: We know you’ve heard of it. You might have been trained by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. But other than the new sixth grade math teachers down the hall, no one implemented it as a true learning strategy. Nowadays, that should change.
Teachers are needed now more than ever. Consider what students really NEED you and their peers for, ie. problem-solving, guided inquiry, discussion, etc., and do those things in class. Start small by flipping one lesson every two weeks. If you are elementary, alternate Math/Science with ELAR/SS. Look here for more on flipped classrooms.
Use immersive technologies: Augmented and virtual realities can bring a concept to life, use is very easy, and resources are increasing. AR is usually mobile device-based, and parents are often willing to download free apps. Have a station at the back of the classroom and invite students who want to know more or struggle to use them at home.
Tip: Find an immersive technology tool to use three times this year. For ideas look at Perspectives XR’s Resource Center and inquire at the district level to see if there are VR headsets to checkout.
Look at the changes ahead with a positive, proactive perspective, and you’ll find new energy and learning in your classroom
The Institute for Learning Perspectives, or Perspectives XR, is an educational non-profit dedicated to helping educational institutions use immersive technologies to teach the humanities.