Keeping What Works – Pandemic Reflections

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From pedagogy to digital platforms, educators have switched our focus in much less time than imagined throughout remote/hybrid/in person learning during this time of Covid quarantine and isolation. A colleague in my building remarked that, if this style of teaching had been planned on, there would have been five year’s worth of research, piloting, professional learning sessions, mentoring, and coaching. Instead we all jumped in with both feet, helping our colleagues along the way in the style of what teachers do best – beg, borrow, and steal! To that end, we have compiled an ever evolving collection of ideas that have worked, and might just be worth keeping even after we return to ‘normal’. 

In the area of school infrastructure there may be some simple fixes to age old building challenges. Daily scheduled, device free, self connect time where learners select to draw, write or listen to music before moving on to their next set of scheduled activities has shown to be a time to center kid’s attention. For example, after each grade level lunch, students could benefit from this time. 

One way stairwells and hallways designed to promote social distancing have resulted in calmer passing times because everyone is going the same direction. Locker use, limited to morning, before & after lunch, and dismissal has cut down on tardies. 

We have all probably discovered our favorite technological platforms by now, but there are some other simple things that fall into the category of ‘work smarter, not harder’. One colleague suggested having remote learners share their screens as a formative check. I hadn’t noticed that I could do that on Zoom because there is always so much going on. Guess what I’ll be asking Zoomies to do tomorrow…! 

Another way to save time on formative checks without opening individual Google docs or slides for each student, is to create a doc, insert a table with two columns and enough rows for each student in class. Type their names in the left column, and assign the doc so it can be edited. Students can post quick formative checks in the right column next to their name. Have them do their draft on slides or a doc first, and then copy their final work to this table – otherwise it gets wonky with multiple edits at once! Also note, students’ work is not private this way, so consider use for low stakes practice. If desired, students can also comment on other’s work/editing, etc. Teachers can easily view all students’ work in real time or by opening just one document later.

As we move forward, there’s lots we’d like to leave behind. We must admit, however, that the Pandemic has asked us to shift in ways large and small. Some are going to continue; some we will choose to take with us. What practices did the Pandemic force you to start, that you’re choosing to take with you?

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