OK... I'm not going to dwell on all the ways in which the current situation we are in sucks. It does. For everyone. For a multitude of reasons. I can't stay in "that place." I start to get even more stressed, overwhelmed, and angry.
I can't be there.
Instead I need to wrap myself around the good things. The positive things. The ways in which I'm going to take this experience and use it to PUSH myself to be a better teacher when we are back in our classrooms.
Because there are some great things that are coming out of this. My students are learning some VALUABLE life skills through this process...and I am learning more about how to help them gain those skills. I'm going to find a way to take that goodness back into my classroom in August. (Yes...I am aware that there is already conversation of how August may not look the way we want it to...but I already told you. I'm not going to "that place" right now). So if you need to, just read "August" as our return to the physical classroom.
1. Student Choice
I LOVE the way my brain is trying to figure out how to get the "essential content" to my students in a way that allows them to choose what they do with it. A variety of vocabulary assignments, choices on extended content they WANT to learn more about, and ways to express their knowledge other than a traditional test. My classroom had SOME of this...I wanted more, but was waiting for this first year of high school to figure out where and when I would put it in. This situation has forced me into it. And I love it. I am really excited to see how this transforms my physical classroom.
One thing that is both equally frustrating, but important is that my students HAVE to read the instructions. There is no getting around it. I am not there to quickly restate what I previously said or walk them through every step. They have to read. And if they don't? They are instructed to copy and paste my instructions into an email and then highlight the parts that are confusing. This FORCES them to read the instructions...and in the event that my directions aren't clear, I can fix it! The is forcing students to really take ownership of their learning and advocate for themselves when they need help. They have to seek it out. They are responsible for their understanding of the content. While I can deliver some of it, they have to do more reading, researching, and inquiry that before. Then ask for clarification if they don't understand. I love it! Such LIFE SKILLS being applied here.
I'll be honest. Providing timely feedback to my students isn't one of my strong points. I'm decent at providing feedback "in the moment" while they're working on a project...but after it's all done and turned in? Sometimes my evaluation and feedback takes awhile. This has forced me to provide them very quick feedback. I am getting better and more efficient. ANOTHER COOL FEATURE with this is more regular feedback from my students. I have always had them "check in" at certain points in the year and let me know how things were going, but now I'm getting weekly feedback. Are my instructions detailed enough? Clear enough? What do you need from me to be successful? I am getting better though this process and my high school kids are helping me get there!
I've talked many times about how teacher collaboration is the key to shifting and moving forward. New ideas, new methods, and comradery has helped me surround myself with a network of positive educators who are doing awesome things across the country. This situation has provided me the motivation (and time) to actually have a conference call with some of these awesome people. Meeting as "face to face" as we can so we can talk about success and errors that we have had in our emergency online delivery of content. This helps keep me motivated and inspired. A great way to lift my spirits as the year continues. I hope to find regular times to continue this as things move into our new normal. I hope to see more teachers involved in this process.
I am sure this list will continue to grow as I stretch my mind to what is possible. What is on your list of good things you're taking back to the classroom?