Now that the worst is behind us (fingers crossed), I think that in some ways the pandemic was a blessing. We (both teachers and students) appreciate every old thing we used to take for granted as we get it back. Being able to move the desks into groups, sitting right next to someone, working with students in person, attending whole-school masses, were givens and we didn't even think about them until we lost them. Now everything old is new again. And while the students are taking it all in stride, to us teachers every day of normalcy is a gift which we may never again take for granted. So thank you, Coronavirus, for awakening in us a new spirit of gratitude and a child-like revelry in each new day! We will be better teachers and better humans for it!
It's the middle of our 2nd week of incarceration, I mean quarantine. This is likely to go on for many more weeks and we need to be prepared. Covid-19 is no joke. Many people are getting sick, and old people (like me) are at higher risk. So, we stay inside, or venture out occasionally taking great caution not to be too close to others, and try to find ways to occupy ourselves during this unprecidented time of uncertainty.
If we, as adults, are wary, imagine what this is doing to our children! In case you didn't know it, young people are extremely observant and sensitive. They hear us talking in whispers, they see the tv news or things being posted on social media, they feel the tension that the unknown causes in the adults around them. This can manifest in many ways. Some children will become fearful of everything, no matter how unreasonable it seems. Some may become angrier. Many will become restless (as we are also becoming). We need to recognize the signs and talk to our children about it. Although our natural instinct is to want to shield our kids from the ugliness, the truth will usually find its way to them and it's much better that it comes from trusted adults than from the media. Let's be honest and have real conversations with our children. Let them know how we feel because they can already see it. Don't pressure them to be always cheerful - it's not natural anyway. Give them the opportunity to vent or express their fears and validate their feelings.
As far as learning goes, kids like structure, some even crave it. If you can organize space and time for them to do some learning each day, it will make them feel more in control. This doesn't have to be high-pressure and certainly should not be all day long, not even 9-3 kind of time. Children, and adults alike, cannot possibly "learn" for 6 hours straight! In a regular school day, there is lots of down time (though your kids might not see it that way). In homeschooling you only need 1-3 hours (depending on age) per day to get the job done. There should be play time and outside time, if possible. Put away the remotes, unplug and do fun, active things with your kids. Their minds AND their bodies need to be occupied. Most of all, we just need to be with the ones we love and pray for and end to this.
I've been working on my ISTE certification. The 9 weeks of online learning means many hours after school and on weekends and has already taught me much about time management and procrastination. I'm a procrastinator. I admit it. I don't want to be one but I seem to be incapable of doing things in advance of when they really need to be done. I'm so easily distracted that when I try to get started on something, I always end up going off on tangents or remembering something I've put off that needs to be finished before I can do anything else. It's really a handicap.
For the certification I need to be planning lessons, building a portfolio. I will have until the end of April to complete this. I want, more than anything, to make great lessons, ones that my students will remember long after they've left here. I want to be that teacher who inspires students to want to learn, to pique their interest in something, anything. But if wishes were horses...
So now I am facing my own challenge: to overcome my shortcomings and re-invent myself. Recognizing those shortcomings is a good first step but it remains to be seen if I can really pull this off. I'm old enough now that I don't need to be doing this. I can retire in a couple of years, but I won't. I can't see myself in a world without students and classes and learning. And the online world changes so much and so often that there will never be a time when I'm "caught up."
My students deserve to be exposed to every new technology. To have the chance to find what truly interests them and then have a path, and a coach, to help them navigate. I want to be that coach, I want to get them started on their journey of discovery, I want to learn with them and from them. Children can be amazing resources, their wonder and curiosity is inspiring. This is why I need to manage my time and learn as much as I can so I know how to help my students become lifetime learners and explorers. That's what it's all about!
As we start the new school year, there are so many things we need to be mindful of. Online security is a major concern when students are almost continuously plugged in. Last year we went 1:1 in our middle school. We chose Chromebooks for the students to use and most of the teachers quickly caught on to Google Classroom and other ways to make use of the new tech. The one huge complaint from them - students were playing games when they were supposed to be working in class. Many devices were confiscated and conduct referrals doled out. As a result of the students' adding game apps to their Chrome, some also added malware that, in some cases, locked them out of their computers. Then they would bring the device to me to fix it. I would have to do a reset of all data and wipe their profiles to get them back in.
This year I have purchased GoGuardian. I'm hopeful that this will solve many of our problems. I have already locked students out of the themes feature and a few others, as well as directing all searches to safe searches. There seem to be lots of options from the admin console and with the teacher licenses, there will no longer be a way for students to hide their game playing during class.
Teachers are thrilled, students, not so much. It remains to be seen if this will really work but I am starting the year with high hopes. Now we just have to get our WiFi working!!
This is the most wonderful AND most stressful time of the year! The children are getting anxious for vacation and Santa and the teachers are all trying to find engaging AND educational activities to keep the students on track to the bitter end! We have been playing Christmas computer games with the little ones, while the older students are making Christmas themed Power Points and working on other projects in the lab and with the tablets. It is our challenge to find activities that enhance the curriculum rather than replace it.
Many teachers struggle with figuring out when technology is appropriate. I have found a few activities for use in some of their classes that have then spurred them on to find others. This is what collaboration and integration is all about!
In January, we (the ADW Lead Tech Coaches) will have a meeting of the tech people from all of the ADW schools (at least all that choose to participate) and I am optimistic that this will lead to some excellent sharing opportunities. We are excited at the prospect of finally getting down to the work we signed on for - to help every school find effective ways to use the technology they already have to enhance their own curriculum. We are not trying to make things harder for anyone. Quite the contrary, we hope to make it easy; easy to communicate with other schools, easy to get help when you need it; easy to find free apps and webtools, easy to arrange PD for your staff.
So, let's ring in 2016 with a renewed spirit of cooperation, collaboration and integration!! I'm looking forward to many "aha" moments in the new year!
Once again snow is in the forecast! As I prepare for another Friday conference, I know this one will not be cancelled for snow. There is NO WAY we could have accumulations after the weather these past few days.
I would like to ask those of you who attend the session tomorrow to leave some feedback here. We would love to hear your thoughts. Did you learn anything? Were we boring? Did we talk too much? Is there something else you'd like to learn about? Can we help you with anything? Do you have something you'd like to share?
Please leave your feedback in the comment section along with your contact info if you would like a response.
Thanks and I hope you enjoyed the conference!
Yesterday, the other fab 5 members and I, attended a Microsoft event titled "The Modern Classroom Looks a Lot Like the Modern Workplace." It was a day of discovery for me! I learned about staff and class notebooks in OneNote, an add-in to Power Point called office mix which allows you to record voice and video into your PPs and even draw on slides, Sway which is another kind of presentation tool with some great features, and all kinds of other educational tools available from Microsoft. They are all free and will change the way we teach and learn! I'm so excited to implement the class and staff notes next year. I'll be spending my summer familiarizing myself with all of this. If you have a little extra time on your hands, check out the links, on the bottom of the Techies page, to Bing and Microsoft for lots of great apps and tools!
As I am waiting to see whether or not the conference will actually take place tomorrow (possible snow day?), I am trying to prepare for what I hope will be an informative and entertaining session. I would like to ask those of you who attend my session on social media in the classroom (IF it happens) to post comments here when you have time. I would love some feedback, including positives and negatives, suggestions and any links you might like to share. This could be the start of something beautiful! Thanks for helping me out
Welcome to my tech blog! The ADW has hired 5 of us to be your Lead Technology Coaches and in that capacity we are at your service. Feel free to ask for help, advice or just to chat and share ideas. If I can't help you, I will find someone who can. The other coaches are Shannon Norris from St. Matthias in Lanham, Kitty Shadman from Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, Mary Del Bianco from Holy Redeemer in Kensington, and Vicky McCann from St. Pius X in Bowie. Our fearless leader is Tim O'Connor, the ADW Director of Educational Technology. Each of us has unique talents and interests and together we make a great team! Please let us know how we can help you!