Trending Teacher Topics

I was recently asked to participate on a teacher panel. This opportunity included providing input on the panel topic. Instead of providing topics I could, and would gladly, discuss, I decided to provide a list of topics I am over.

Topics to retire, if only for the next conversation:

  • Failing Grade(s) Epidemic
  • Learning Loss (thanks to distance learning)
  • Motivation (or the lack thereof)
  • Online Learning Games
  • Technology in the Classroom
  • Zoom: Pitfalls or Tips

It’s not that I don’t have first-hand experience, opinions, or things to share about these topics; rather, I feel that given a global pandemic, given the past year, I need space.

I know students are failing, and there is definitely academic loss, but we’re trying to survive a global pandemic that has upended nearly every sector of life. So, if we’re distracted or unmotivated or unable to put forth our regular best, it’s understandable.

I’m happy we’ve had the option and opportunity to have distance learning. It’s not perfect, it was implemented in haste, and even in the best circumstances it may not be suitable for all learners. I have heard and presented, ad nauseam, about online games, technology tools, and all the workings of Zoom. I need time to process, to practice more, to simply keep what I like and forgo anything new for awhile. It’s not that these things aren’t important, it’s just that (I feel) we’ve talked about them enough for now–what do you think?

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

Remote v. In-Person

There are merits and pitfalls to both remote and in-person instruction. And they vary depending on the reason, setting, and age group. Of course.

I think instead of lamenting about one over the other; instead, of focusing on what we have loss, it is important to consider what we have gained. I know I have said this before, but it is a challenge and as a challenging reframe I have to repeat it.

I’m currently teaching adults three times a week online. I wish it could be in-person, I wish I could visit their classrooms, I wish I could sit with them and see more of their faces, reactions, etc. Absolutely. I do have moments and times where I know it could be better, if we were together.

However, I know I have much to appreciate in this situation.

I’m grateful for the flexibility of remote learning. I don’t have to leave the house–the weather has been atrocious so staying home is nice. I am pushing my creativity skills–I am rethinking, reorganizing, re-imagining the lessons I had planned, and the lessons I am giving. I am able to connect with talent and professionals beyond my immediate circle. I am connecting with teachers from across the globe, not just teachers near me. I am learning how to use new tools. Between Zoom, Kahoot, Jamboard, ClassDojo, Padlet, etc. there is more opportunity, than ever before, to implement and practice with new online tools.

Distance learning can be trying, draining, exhausting. I admit it. I also don’t want to be burdened with the negativity–or drained by it. I love teaching, and I hope that despite it all, I keep learning and growing as a teacher, even in these difficult unprecedented times.

Remote Learning: Cons

Look, I’m not Pollyanna. I may have started with the positive, but I can be real too.

How has (mandated) remote learning (for all) been a difficult experience?

  • All day on screens. My eyes!
  • No walking . . . minimal walking.
  • Too. Many. Platforms.
  • Distance.
  • Loading.
  • Still loading.
  • Reconnecting.

What else?

I have tutored online previously–short segments with adult learners. It was a choice.

I have used online platforms as a center option, as a reward, as a form of enrichment, as a tool for remediation. Again, though, short segments of time and it was a choice.

This is different.

And what’s even more humbling? My scope of understanding is actually limited; I’m not teaching a classroom of kids, full-time. But I’m exhausted!

So, to all the school staff and families out there navigating forums, bandwidth, and distance: I see you. I know it’s hard . . . harder than I can even understand . . .

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Remote Learning: Pros

We all have our complaints . . . and I have them too.

But are there are any good things about our current (mandated) remote learning?

🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

Possible positive sentiments on remote learning . . .

  • No bulletin boards to maintain.
  • The weather doesn’t impact the school day.
  • There isn’t a line for the copier.
  • No school traffic–anywhere.
  • Learning for all–new systems, new platforms, new methods . . .
  • Shoes aren’t required. (I LOVE being barefoot!)
  • We’re building lessons and curriculum for the future.
  • A national conversation on the amount of work, and the true essential place of public education, has been thrust into the spotlight . . .

It was hard, difficult, to come up with this list, but I do like to frame things into a lesson, or a positive–whenever possible. It took some stretching and thinking to find these, but they seem reasonably uplifting. In other words, when I am most frustrated, or sad, I have something to reference on what I am gaining or enjoying, or what others might be gaining and enjoying, from this experience.

Do you have any other positive outcomes?

Monthly Advice–August

Last year was a year unlike any other. This year is shaping up to be a similar situation:

  • When will we go back to our classrooms?
    • Will we ever go back to our classrooms?
  • Can we wear masks–all day?
    • Are shields better than masks?
  • How do we social distance . . . in a classroom?
  • How will evaluations work?
  • Who attends on what days?
  • What does funding look like?
  • What programs will we use online? How do we use them?

. . . there are many questions. And while we can answer some before we begin the school year, so much cannot be answered until we are in the trenches.

So this month, and for this year, my advice: just do your best. It’s the only thing we can do.

This is a new experience, and a new roadmap, for everyone. All we can do is our best.

Sometimes our best will mean the internet is great, the lesson translates via the laptop, and learning is happening as planned; sometimes our best will mean waiting for the internet to catch-up, repeating yourself because the connection was interrupted, and all that planned learning for today, happens tomorrow. As long as you’re doing your best, I am proud of you, and applaud you.

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Photo by stem.T4L on Unsplash