THAT’S A KEEPER!
SO many of us are now back, full-time, in-person. It looks a bit different, but it is SO AMAZING. As a mother of three school-aged children, my heart is so full hearing of their learning experiences now that they are in the school building for 5 days. I also love hearing about their new friends from the other cohort, new recess options, new bus friends, etc. It’s great and they are so happy. When they are excited about school, they are more engaged, and ready to learn. I’m finally hearing “I can’t wait to go to school tomorrow.” However, as we think about how great it is to be back we cannot dismiss all of the extremely hard work we did to get to this point. There are so many silver linings of the last year that we need to hang onto as we get back to “normal” (whatever that is). These are the “Keepers” I would like to see stick around:
This is EASILY the number one silver lining to come out of this year. Obviously, teachers and departments have collaborated in years past, but this year I’ve seen collaboration become a necessity to survive. We leaned on each other more than ever before. We divided and conquered the lessons, we planned, we borrowed, we shared, and we succeeded. We NEEDED each other, and as a result, we saw HUGE benefits in terms of working smarter, and not harder (because I don’t think we could have worked any harder). Let’s not lose this – let’s learn from it and keep it around. As a parent, I LOVED seeing that my children were getting lessons that teachers planned together. They were on the SAME page – and with twins, to me, that’s very important. Every teacher can bring their own flair to the lesson, but planning the lessons TOGETHER is equitable for all children. I’ve also seen so much more collaboration between schools as well; teachers sharing digital lessons with each other, ideas online, so many new Facebook groups. Sharing is caring – let’s continue to care.
Oh my goodness, I’ve never been MORE PROUD of the Google Classroom use I’ve seen this year. I hear teachers talking about Topics, using Emojis in Classrooms, having a “Master Teacher Classroom” that they pull from, reusing posts from their team members, and the list goes on and on. Many of these features have always been available, but not until the pandemic have they been used at the rate they are now. I truly hope to see this continue as I firmly believe that posting everything in Google Classroom makes it accessible for all learners. Google Classroom was such an essential tool during hybrid and remote instruction, but can also be essential during in-person learning as well. For students to ALWAYS have access to lessons is a wonderful thing!
Technology Integration 💻
I’ve been an integration facilitator now for 5 years, with this being my 6th. Prior to this year, I had some teachers I knew that maybe were never really going to integrate technology into their instruction no matter how hard I pushed. Then, Covid hit, and it was these teachers that relied on me the most. We had many tears, but we persevered and now all of us have so many new tech tools in our repertoire. Although technology doesn’t make a great teacher, it can GREATLY affect our students and many need it. I think the forceful integration of technology due to a pandemic allowed many to see the need for some technology purposefully integrated into daily instruction.
I have to admit, I would be so happy to NEVER see my own children on a Google Meet again in their school years. Conversely, I think virtual meetings are something we should not lose. Having virtual meetings for PD was amazing because now we didn’t have a cap for space. I could also attend PD events all over the world without leaving my town, which is a first! Using virtual meetings for parent-teacher conferences was awesome because more parents could attend, making it a bit more accessible to those who may have tough work schedules. I know as a parent myself, I loved the virtual conferences because I didn’t have to worry about being late by running in between each one. Virtual meetings could be used before school or after school for extra help for those who don’t have transportation. I think we used virtual meetings in excess this year and may need a break, but they still should be “kept” around as an option going forward.
Quick Hits 💡
Lastly, I have to mention the tools that I’ve seen most used that I hope we “keep” using:
GoGuardian Teacher Dashboard – AWESOME to see teachers having this running so kiddos can ask questions in a safe space. Not all students feel comfortable raising their hand in class or approaching you. Keeping this running in-person provides a space for those who may need it.
Screencastify – Using video to show and/or explain will always have a place! Making videos can be used in centers, or for students to review at home. We still may have students who have to quarantine, providing video models will give them access!
PearDeck – Making your lessons interactive engages learners! Don’t just talk AT students, engage them and have them “talk” back. Again, this is another tool that may give some of your more quiet students a space to interact.
EdPuzzle – Make those videos, then include questions and track WHO watches them! A GREAT TOOL for students to use while you meet with other students in class. The best part – it grades FOR you! Edpuzzle also has an amazing library of lessons already created by teachers – again, collaboration!
Google Tools – We have used Slides, Docs, Jamboard, and Classroom at such a high rate this year. I hope we continue to use these tools so we can reach all learners. Not all children learn the same and by using tech purposefully in class we may reach more students than without it.
I honestly have to say – I am so happy to see paper and pencils back out again in classrooms and the Chromebooks closed. We all need balance, and MY GOODNESS, we have had a lot of tech this year! Of course, I went on and adopted MORE tech – be sure to check out my new Tik Tok channel for some quick tips! I’ll still post here, and to my YouTube channel. I try my best to reach ALL learners using different avenues 😍.
Take care everyone, I hope you “keep” me around!