Today is a Great Day to Learn Something New and Creative in Education
I remember, and still cannot understand to this day, the great toilet paper crisis of 2020. It was just the first of many lingering events that marked a shift in our world. I still feel sad that the end of the year did not end normal for many students. I still feel sad when I see where the journey has led us now. I know so many people affected, whether by COVID-19 itself, or those who lost jobs, went hungry because they had no income, or those who needed the safety and comfort of the schools.
As the new school year began in August, schools nationwide were faced with rising demands of how best to meet the needs of students and keep them safe. Everyone has felt this shift and many of their own opinions. While some taught online, some districts did hybrids, and many offered virtual options for those who did not feel safe sending their students back into schools with the lingering virus.
The district I work for went back on a regular schedule with systems in place that have been going well. They did offer a virtual academy for those students who felt like they were not ready to return to school in the pandemic. With large numbers of students interested, the district assigned some classroom teachers in grades K-6 as fulltime virtual teachers. Our secondary schools had different needs and the model they use looks somewhat different. I mention this because I was one of the teachers who has been teaching virtually for the first semester of the school year. I am fortunate to have a fabulous partner teacher who teaches the math and science while I teach the Language Arts and Geography.
As a teacher, it has been hard not having a group of students in the classroom. Google Meets do not have the same engagement level. Creating videos for instruction seems strange without the interaction of students. All these challenges I mention are hard for dedicated teachers, but I cannot deny I have had a great opportunity rising to this challenge of virtual.
I have gained so many technology skills. I know we all have exposure but that is not enough to integrate it well in what we do daily. I have not only got to learn a few new programs, but I got to really learn them and use them successfully. I have learned programs that are the most beneficial at engagement. I like Nearpod and Pear Deck. Nearpod is my favorite of the two unless it comes down to the free version. Pear Deck is more usable on the free version. I have used Padlet a lot in the past, but after joining some groups in Facebook I have learned how versatile Jamboards and prefer that due to the collaborative nature and options available. I
I have also spent some time creating a YouTube Channel, although still new. I do plan to do some professional development videos here as well soon. I know I am lacking in self-confidence for seeing myself in pictures and videos, but I am working on this. I am not a splendid video maker so they will be basic. But I feel like as an educator, I can give back by supplying resources for fellow teachers.
I learned much more about some tech tools I have previously used like Storyjumper.com, Google Forms, and Flipgrid. These tools are free and amazing to allow for some differentiation and creativity.
I have been able to be flexible and help in other classrooms as needed or by request. In fact, I helped a teacher see how much fun reading can be with the right hooks as we read The Westing Game together. Of course, if you follow my blog, you know this is my favorite book to teach of all time.
Finally, I have reflected on my own practice with how I can improve what I have done in the past in my own classroom. I think as a teacher, we can not spend enough time in the reflection process. Everything we do matters to even one student and we need to make it meaningful. Every lesson I have learned throughout this experience will enhance my practice as an educator.
What have you learned the most through this pandemic?
My life journey is that of a mother, wife, grandmother, weenie dog owner, blogger, conference speaker, mini-farmer, writer and an occasional mistake maker with over 24 years in education. Follow me on Twitter @CrazyCurrChic