A parent wrote to me, "I feel like your style of teaching was almost built for the remote learning format they're doing." It was so lovely to read that, because I hadn't thought of it really in that way, but upon reflection, I think she's right.
Since becoming a third grade teacher in September 2015, I embraced learning digital tools. I began blogging, introduced blogging to my students, created digital reading walls for them, created a class website to help them navigate to different places on the Internet. I created a digital reading workshop unit for Social Issues Book Clubs. I had my students using Flipgrid for learning centers and beyond. My students used their chrome books every day and were comfortable navigating to different websites, which has been really helpful to them now that they are doing this on their own.
I've also always believed in the importance of classroom community and social emotional learning. Every day was started with a Morning Meeting where students greeted each other. We would share an inspiring quote of the day as well as an affirmation each day. Each week, one student was recognized as the Thoughtful Third Grader and celebrated each day in a small way.
I have carried these traditions to remote learning. Each day, I make a video of the Morning Meeting. It's not the same as being there together and the children contributing, but I share a quote, an affirmation and celebrate the Thoughtful Third Grader. I give the children an overview of their work for the day and where they can find everything in Google Classroom. I am reading aloud The Tale of Despereaux to them via Flipgrid so they can share their thinking after I finish a chapter. Reading aloud to students is one of the things I love best about teaching and so I am glad we can still share a book together.
I am learning a lot along the way. I am constantly collaborating with my 3rd grade colleagues and in a sense, I know them better as teachers now that we are sharing everything. I've learned how to make screencasts and do so every day. I've learned more about Google forms. I am learning about tools like Jamboard and Kami. I wish there was more time to explore. I am having a difficult time navigating all the screen time while I create and post, then check student work, reach out to students who aren't participating, all while keeping my 9 year old and 7 year old engaged in their work. (That's the hardest part).
I am grateful to educators who are generously sharing their thinking and ides. Clare Landrigan's post about the virtual classroom library has me inspired and wheels spinning. Pernille Ripp's Choose Your Own Adventure also has me thinking about how I can incorporate more choice into the day for my students.
When life resumes, and I get to be a teacher in front of students again, in real time, I think the lessons I am learning and the new tools I am trying out during this remote learning time will be tools I can add into my real life classroom. I might be able to facilitate small groups in a better way how that I know how to make videos more seamlessly. Knowing the value of digital tools and using them with my students has helped us to make this transition. It's not easy or seamless and I really miss the classroom. I miss the smiles, the voices, the ahas, the spark that comes when kids hear an idea and then add onto it. At the same time, I think my style of teaching has helped me and my students to make this jump in the best way possible.
How is it going for you?
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski