Hello, Summer! It’s not exactly summer since it’s the last Friday in May. However, after the last two months, I am more than ready for the summer vacation.
Except I have a “teacher’s brain.” I really think it is a medical condition for most of us who teach. I closed out the school year last Friday by packing up my room, checking off returned textbooks and materials, and locking my classroom door for the last time for the 2019-2020 school year. I brought home a book to read for pleasure and a summer reading list for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade English. I created three Google Classrooms for Summer Reading Projects, and I know my teaching assignments for the 2020-2021 school year.
Then I sat down to read the novels for next year and make notes and search the web for the next big unit. See? Teacher’s brain! I haven’t turned it off yet, and I am planning for the next year. I don’t know what it will look like, though. We are planning to do in-person teaching when we return in August, but how that will look has not been determined. One plan is to have students remain in one classroom all day and teachers change classes each period. The head of school, board of directors, and others are still reviewing the guidelines from the state departments of health and education and the CDC as well as any other orders from the governor and President. We already have two e-learning days built into our school calendar, one for each semester to keep us, students and teachers, in practice for remote teaching and learning.
Since March 18, I have been teaching remotely, and it is much harder than it looks. I had to learn new “tricks,” and for this “old dog,” it was not easy. I had to research different ways of delivering content. I had to be aware that not every child had the same accessibility to technology as others. Although I teach in an independent school, many of our students struggle during this period of quarantine and pandemic. I had to find ways to get content to those students who lacked accessibility. Another challenge was keeping students engaged in learning–and wanting to learn. Some students had parents who set up “school” at home with regular hours for completing the tasks. These parents supervised and assisted. They encouraged and supported. Every assignment was completed early or on time. And they were quick to email and ask questions. Other parents had a more “hands-off” approach, and the work was turned in “whenever,” if at all.
The next thing I learned was the vast amount of apps and websites and resources available for teachers and students. During this time of remote teaching, I learned how to “screencast” and video chat. I learned how to create interactive slide decks with PearDeck, lecture with Loom and Google Slides, and manipulate Google Classroom to meet my needs (and hopefully the needs of the students), and I wore out an old laptop and had to purchase a new one.
Now, to help calm the “teacher’s brain,” I am starting a blog. I have purchased my own domain and will be using Edublogs as my platform. I have blogged before for personal reasons, but I want to get back into the habit of writing. This summer, I want to use my blog to reflect on some of my practices and to plan for going forward in “post-COVID-19” teaching and learning.
This is what I’m reading now: