Saturday, March 28, 2020

Bringing Out the Best in Us!

The teacher who has rarely (if ever!) used technology to teach before, finding that Google Slides is fun!

The team that voluntarily worked all weekend to dismantle Chromebook carts, disinfect every device, and wipe the profiles so they could be ready to hand to students who need a device at home.

The unlikely new teammates that are quickly learning to collaborate and work well together from a distance.

The teachers who made a video compilation to say that they miss their students...and the students who replied with a video compilation of their own.

The hundreds of teachers who showed up in optional professional development sessions over spring break to learn how to do this well for their kids, and continue to ask for me.

The staff who are calling families to make sure they know how to access food, technology, and learning.

The operations staff who have spent hours cleaning, disinfecting, and making sure our buildings will be safe when we return.

The community members who are donating money, food, and time to make sure our students and families are taken care of.

I'm not trying to be falsely positive or make light of a very serious situation. It's true that there are a lot of things about this virus that stink! But I want to take a moment to be grateful for the good -- the way it is bringing out the best in us!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Teachers, We've Got This!

Teachers, we've got this!

Over the past several weeks, we've spent a lot of time talking about everything that has changed. Indeed, our world looks different than it did a month ago! But what if we focus on the things that have not changed?

Our relationships

We are in this profession because we care. About students. About families. About learning. None of that has changed! We still can find ways to show our kids how much they mean to us, and how much we care. Those relationships can't be stopped by 6 feet (or more) of distance!

Our creativity

We have been functioning for years in less-than-ideal circumstances. Lack of funding = purchasing our own supplies, larger class sizes, and generally being asked to do more with less. You could almost say we are experts at adapting to the situation and making do! Here is another chance for our creative selves to shine. "Necessity is the mother of invention," and I know we will come out of this having invented new (and sometimes better!) ways of thinking about our instruction and what really matters in a class.

Our perseverance

Standardized testing. Educator effectiveness. Unfunded mandates. We are all-too-familiar with the number of things that get added to our plates, yet we persevere. That all-important "grit" that we talk about with kids? Just like always, we are going to keep going when the going gets tough and work through hardship.

So you see, even though a lot has changed, the most important things haven't. We will work through this next chapter of education, together, because our students are worth it. The tools might look different (hello, Hangouts/Meet and Schoology), but the core of education will stay the same - helping our students learn and grow into happy, healthy, and well-rounded human beings.

Teachers, we've got this!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Keeping It Simple

I know I've been on a bit of a blogging break. I just had so much going on, and this was one thing I could let go of for a few weeks to give myself some breathing room! But in this world of wow-things-are-moving-quickly-with-coronavirus, I thought it would be a good time to return!

I'm here today with one message: Keep it simple.

Those of us who are active in the ed tech world probably have lots of ideas for how to implement home learning. Some of our favorite tools are now being offered for free (due to the pandemic)! Our expertise in designing blended or flipped lessons is paying off! Everyone is being so great about sharing resources, so we have a whole world of ideas at our fingertips!

We need to be reminded: Keep it simple.

This is a huge change for our students. It will feel weird to them. They will be balancing other things, like siblings vying for use of the technology, the loss of their usual social outlets, and feeling cooped up at home. Along with that, we are kidding ourselves if we think the kids aren't feeling the undercurrent of stress running through society right now. We need to not overwhelm them and keep it simple.

This is a huge change for our parents. They are dealing with childcare issues, figuring out how to continue with their jobs, and for some, how to continue to put food on the table. They may be thinking about elderly parents, having enough toilet paper, and access to medical care if needed. We need to not expect that they will be sitting next to their students, helping them with schoolwork every day. For their sake, we need to keep it simple.

And this is a huge change for our teachers! Some teachers are ready and building lessons as we speak! But I bet each one of us has a face that comes to mind when we think about somebody who is not as excited about technology. All teachers, no matter what their level of comfort with technology is, are probably feeling a little intimidated and worried about their students, how they can teach online, and what will happen with tests/graduation requirements/evaluations/etc. We live in this wonderful world of sharing, but let's not dump too much information on our teachers who are adjusting - let's keep it simple.

So what does simple mean?

  • Relationships first. Connect with kids. Connect with each other.
  • "Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." ~Brene Brown. A little clarity goes a long way.
  • Communicate. The unknown is scary. Hearing from each other makes us feel a little less alone.
  • Don't neglect self-care. One of the downsides of the internet is that we are all connected, 24/7. Step away and take care of yourself, too.
  • Above all, let grace and compassion reign. We are all in uncharted waters, and we are all figuring it out together. Some of us will adjust more smoothly than others. Let's put our differences aside and be gracious as we try, take risks, fail, and try again!