For my EDTC 6108 Practicum I applied my Digital Education Leadership knowledge and experience into supporting students, families, and coworkers transition to at home learning, in response to COVID-19. In the following blog post I will reflect on my experience supporting students, families, and coworkers by listing: takeaways I have had, questions I still have, and providing artifacts, examples, or resources I have used.
- Students loved our class’s Zoom meetings.
I had the highest level of engagement during our weekly class Zoom meetings. We met twice a week as a class over Zoom. Students expressed that their favorite part of Zoom meetings were: seeing and hearing from their classmates, socializing and sharing ideas in breakout rooms, 21 questions and other games, art, and read-alouds. They also expressed appreciation that the Zoom meetings kept them informed and provided opportunities for them to problem solve and ask questions about learning and technology.
- Students displayed a growth mindset when using and learning technologies.
Students did not shy away from using technology to access, engage or share their learning. Many times students expressed gratitude and excitement for different learning technologies such as: Seesaw, Flipgrid, Book Creator, Mystery Science, Zoom, and Prodigy.
- Students need practice knowing their passwords and accessing Classlink.
The biggest barrier many students faced was not knowing their emails and passwords for logging in and accessing the different learning platforms and websites that were being provided, many of which were on student’s Classlink. Classlink is a secure online service that lets students access online school-related resources with a single log-in. Many students struggled finding and logging into Classlink and additionally faced challenges in finding the resources that they were looking for once on Classlink.
- Students did well with a consistent schedule and structure.
For example, in third grade our learning schedule stayed consistent and presented a reading and math lesson on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and a science lesson on Tuesdays and Thursdays. No additional work was assigned on Fridays as it was an opportunity to finish assignments, reflect on the week, and set a goal for the next week. The learning schedule also listed our class Zoom meetings which were kept on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am-11am. By providing a consistent learning schedule and classroom Zoom meetings students understood the learning opportunities and expectations that were being asked of them allowing them to engage in the learning opportunities in ways that worked best for them and their families.
- Students appreciated thoughtful lessons and choice.
Students expressed appreciation towards lessons that had fun or meaningful topics. Topics they said they liked: “animals”, “sports”, “donuts”, “space”, “engineering”, “art”, “video games”, and “stuffies”. They also appreciated when lessons included jokes or humor, were short, and/or personal. As well as, lessons that provided choices in the content and how they demonstrated their learning. For example, students appreciated an invention project that was left open ended, an animal research book where they got to choose the animal and book format, and choices for how to share their work on Seesaw (video, photo, text, or recording).
- What are best teaching practices with online learning?
- Should lessons be stand alone or build on each other?
- How can we foster relationships with students online?
- What does SEL look like with online learning?
- What models of online learning are supported with child development and best teaching practices?
- What are strategies that encourage students engage in dialogue/ discussion online?
Examples, Artifacts, and Resources:
Class Zoom Meetings:
Example of Video Tutorials:
Examples of an Engaging/Short Video Lessons:
Learning Schedule Activity on Seesaw:
- Keep things as simple and consistent as possible.
To help families (and myself) manage email and classroom communication I tried to keep my communication simple and on a consistent schedule. I send out an email every Friday afternoon with the next week’s learning schedule and any other important messages or information. I additionally send out an email with our class’s Zoom information and agenda the morning of our scheduled class Zoom meetings. Next year I would like to have some way to send out weekly or biweekly progress monitoring notes for families to stay aware of how their child is engaging in online learning, their strengths and areas where they need support.
- Family Zoom meetings are helpful.
I offered one whole class family Zoom meeting which was similar to a “curriculum night” type meeting where I went over the learning students would be completing online, commonly asked questions, and answered and listened to other questions and needs. This is something I want to continue to do on a regular basis next year. Additionally, I was able to answer parent questions and concerns over 1 on 1 Zoom meetings. This was especially helpful when trying to problem solve technology.
- Video/ written tutorials are helpful for families.
When beginning to use a new technology or when problem solving many families were able to solve the problems with video and written tutorials.
- Consistent platform and technology is appreciated.
Primarily using Classlink and Seesaw was very helpful and consistent for families. Parents expressed the need to keep things simple and that too many choices is overwhelming.
- Parents appreciated direction and flexibility.
Many parents expressed that having consistent expectations was helpful to them in trying to create routines and expectations at home, but also expressed that they appreciated the flexibility and grace to make at home learning work for their family.
- How can I create a meaningful progress monitoring tool that is helpful for families and opens two way communication for families and myself?
- What are families’ needs going into next year? What worked well and what was challenging from this year?
- How can I utilize Seesaw for communication with families?
Examples, Artifacts, and Resources:
Weekly Learning Schedule:
Parent Zoom Meeting Resources:
Supporting Staff and Coworkers:
- Creating boundaries, resources, and tutorials was helpful.
At the beginning of at home learning when students, families, and teachers were transitioning to online learning there was a steep learning curve. In order to effectively support teachers as well as my students and their families I had to create boundaries. One boundary was work hours, this was important for me to establish so that my time was being respected. Additionally, another boundary which helped me was asking teachers to schedule a meeting with me and creating a hard time to end. Creating resources and tutorials for commonly asked questions or trouble shooting also helped mitigate unnecessary meetings.
- Digital Education Leaders teach growth mindset and problem solving.
Many teachers were apprehensive about introducing new technology and platforms for at home learning. This was the case with my 3rd grade team, many unfamiliar with Seesaw were eager yet apprehensive and nervous. Supporting teachers’ growth mindset and problem solving laid down a solid foundation and helped ease nerves and empowered them to try new technologies.
- Teachers appreciated sharing resources and collaboration to stay aligned.
One of the best things that came out of online learning for me was the practice of collaboration. Whether it was training or learning from each other, collaborating on lessons, or creating a common learning schedule and expectations for our grade level we stayed aligned, supported and lifted each other up, and did our best for our students. Sharing resources and lessons and documents through Google Drive, Google Slides/ Docs allowed us to collaborate effectively.
- Having alignment in our school or district was helpful.
Having alignment in technologies such as Seesaw, Google Suite, and learning pacing guides allowed district TOSAs, school coaches, the technology department to work together and support teachers, students and families. For example, it allowed for common professional development opportunities and collaboration across teams and schools.
- Intentionality and feedback are appreciated.
As a teacher and through feedback from teachers who I have trained or supported I know that thoughtful and intentional choices make teachers feel they are valued and the work they are doing is meaningful. Making sure to include teachers voices and feedback before, during, and after decisions around technology or PD are made provides valuable feedback to make sure the work is thoughtful and impactful.
- What elements of online learning were positive/ challenging?
- How can we elicit/ synthesize actionable feedback from teachers?
- What kind of PD do teachers need to grow or enhance their online teaching knowledge and abilities?
- What are ways to support teachers with meaningful and impactful data tracking and progress monitoring?
- How can we model and support teachers with SEL and building relationships with students online?