Insights from Remote Learning

This post is week 3 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

What insights do I have about my students after remote learning? 

That is a question I have considered over the past few months. When thinking about the children I know. I have known them in the classroom in both kindergarten and grade 5, as I had the pleasure of teaching this same batch twice. I know them in person and now I know them in a different way too–how they were when learning at home.

I often thought about their teacher for next year, should we have to continue remote learning in the fall. He won’t know them like I know them.

He won’t know that the students whose work may seem comparatively mediocre are working on their own, empowered by their parents to be independent and responsible learners in their own right.

He actually won’t know the level of the students’ English language acquisition because their lessons have become a family affair, which I’m not saying is a bad thing. I’m just hoping that the students who are getting help at home are learning skills with their one-on-one familial tutors, lessons they may have missed over the years.

He won’t know which ones are getting bombarded with more than help from older siblings and parents, like excessive scaffolding on a building project on a sandy site. When the scaffolding gets taken away, there will be trouble if the builders haven’t drilled down to establish a strong foundation. He won’t really be able to recognize those students with shaky foundations who are getting disproportionate help on their online work.

For me, my insights are scattered. I have learned new things about my students since they started learning at home. Other insights on the more important human levels, I’ve sadly lost touch.

I have seen a whole spectrum of abilities and successes coming through in all these areas of remote learning:

  • Timeliness of turning in assignments
  • Engagement in opportunities afforded
  • Excellence in work produced
  • Understanding instructions
  • Creativity
  • Going above and beyond
  • Willingness to ignore lessons entirely

One of my big takeaways is that success in remote learning was not predictable at all based on their effort and the work they were doing in the classroom. Of course, some students were not a surprise. They were very similar to the students I had in person in the grade 5 classroom. However, there were many children who ended up on opposite ends of the spectrum of abilities and successes. These students learned and engaged on very different levels than they did in person–some rose to the occasion, others foundered.

I have learned insights about myself too. For instance, in how difficult one-way communication is. I would think I explained something one way on my video instructions until I saw  the assignments they turned in and say a big “Oops!” I missed being in the classroom, able to say, “Wait a minute! Let me explain this a different way before you continue.” I’ll save more on insights into myself for another post.

Perhaps the greatest insight I’ve learned is that children are complicated and full of different ways of being. We perhaps don’t know them as well as we think we do when we are with them for just a few hours a day. They are each valuable and multifaceted gems reflecting some light in school, but we don’t get to know them fully and see all their sides.

However, one thing I do know, it is certainly better to meet my students every day and get to see, know and experience their glinting brilliance in real life than remotely.

 

How Am I Recharging in Summer?

This post is week 2 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

Today’s question is great timing, as today is my last day of school. It’s been such a long second semester in the emergency remote learning chapter because of the Coronavirus.

How are you recharging this summer? I do look forward to recharging. Here is a list of my do’s and don’ts for my summer.

Do

  • Read, read, read – I have a stack of Kindle books to finish, including The Tradition, The Racial Healing Handbook, Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing, How to Be Antiracist, A Practical View of Christianity.
  • Fight for justice and equity
  • Be antiracist
  • Write poetry and blog posts
  • Work on my TESOL certification and be ready to teach the created unit in the fall.
  • Cook and continue to experiment with vegan and vegetarian recipes, chock full of spices
  • Continue to eat healthy foods and be mindful of my eating
  • Take walks

Don’t

  • Take a trip
  • Be apathetic

Remote Learning – What I Learned

This post is week 1 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

I will finish up my remote learning / teaching tomorrow. Tuesday is our last day of school, but tomorrow is the last time we will meet with our students. We’ll play a Kahoot selfie guessing game. And say our good byes and best wishes for the summer. What a sad way to spend the last four months of our school year.

I guess the most important takeaway I had after that whirlwind, crazy experience is that students and teachers who own their own learning are going to be most successful at this. There was no way we could help the few students who chose not to be involved. But those who owned their learning were able to keep growing. I’m not sure what our future holds, but I’m confident that the ones who really bought into remote learning, even in this emergency, are going to succeed. I wish I could give a gift to all the troubled or reluctant ones. First, I pray they are safe and just making choices that this wasn’t important. After, I know they are safe, I would give them the gift of being able to want to learn, to be resourceful and take initiative. If they just jump through hoops and try to please the system, this remote learning is not going to work for them.

He did Genius Hour remotely, and it was without a doubt, my best series of lessons this past semester. I wish all of remote learning could be like that!

 

What Will I Keep?

This post is week 8 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

The #8WeeksofSummer blogging challenge will stay with me. One takeaway is that I do better at blogging with a challenge. I’ve been blogging for close to ten years now, sometimes more regularly than others.

Here is a little history of my recent blogging:

In 2019, I made 16 posts. I began the year blogging, thanks to the #Blogging28 challenge last January through Edublogs, posting 5 times in January. In February through May, I made 3 more posts–no challenges. Then starting in June through today, I’ve made 8 posts in the #8WeeksofSummer challenge.

In 2018, I made 3 posts.

In 2017, I made 57 posts.

What was the difference between 2017 and 2018? Blogging challenges.

In 2017,  I took two challenges, the #edublogsclub and #SliceofLife2017, which was each day in March and some Tuesdays after. In 2018, I took no challenges.

Writing heals and keeps me sane, so I need to take time to write. If blogging challenges are a way to encourage me to do that, I will take them.

Thank you so much to Penny Christensen for running this professional reflection challenge for this summer. Thanks also to Penny and other friends who came and commented on my blog–Sheri, Joy, and Scott.

Now. what will my next challenge be?

My Summer Learning Journey

This post is week 7 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

Well, this is a timely post! It’s bringing me back to my first 8 Weeks of Summer blog post where I shared my summer PD goals:

  1. I will finish my TESOL Advanced Certificate Program.

  2. I will do some work on my year plan and related resources for my grade 5 English learner class.

  3. I will read 8 children and young adult books, which is nourishment for my soul as a reading teacher.

  4. I will blog about my learning (and whatever else is in store for the #8WeeksofSummer challenge) at least 8 times.

Now, we are in week 7. It’s a good time to review what I planned and see how I’m doing.

First, my plan to finish my TESOL certificate has failed. I had believed that certificate would serve as credit for my teacher license re-certification credit, but, alas, it didn’t.  When I went to renew my license, I saw that it would not count for the credit I needed. Instead I signed up for two other courses–Six Traits of Writing and Fierce Teaching. These are great classes, which will help me in my teaching and get me re-certified.  By the way, my TESOL certificate will still be completed, but I’ll wait until the fall.

Second, I am continuing my work on my year plan for grade 5. Not as much as I want, but I will work more in August.

My suitcase full of books.

Third, regarding the nourishment for my soul, I am reading! In fact, I sometimes have to slap my hand and put the book down. I’ve read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and I have almost finished The Reckoning by John Grisham.  In addition, my suitcase has 220 children’s books to take back to Bahrain. I’m enjoying reading many of them too.

Fourth, I have managed to keep up blogging for the #8WeeksofSummer challenge. Thank you, Penny!

In addition, Gallit and I are enthusiastically working on the second edition of The Genius Hour Handbook.

I’m definitely learning, growing, and so busy this summer. I’m also having a wonderful time visiting my family. In August, when I travel back to Bahrain, I’ll get even more busy with my many professional development goals.