Preparing to Switch Back and Forth Between Onsite and Online Teaching

Second Wave Series 20 / August 24, 2020

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A panel of educators and technology directors discuss the challenges of preparing for the possibility of having to switch back and forth between online and online teaching. The panel was part of the 2020 Second Wave Summit.  The second wave refers to the looming threat of the return of COVID-19 in the fall that may drive another round of school closures and remote learning. It also refers to the second round of contingency planning and preparation we all now need to do to prepare for the uncertainty of whatever is coming next. Watch the full panel discussion or read the transcript below.

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Second Wave Summit

The Academy of Active Learning Arts and Sciences brought together educators and administrators who embraced the Flipped Learning framework (and those who didn’t) to share, prepare, and plan for the future of education in a post-COVID-19 world.

Source: Academy of Active Learning Arts and Sciences 2020

 

Jon Bergmann:

This is such a crazy topic, planning for repeated shifts between remote and in-person learning. COVID closed down all of our schools, closed down our businesses, closed down so much. We’re going to take two tacks. The first tack is what happened and how you responded, but then we’re going to look forward. What tools did you guys have in place already that you were able to utilize, to really make the best of this situation?

Daniel Tracy:

Sure. We had already been looking into Zoom for remote teaching, thankfully right before all of this happened. All we did was increase the size of our account. Then deployed it to the students and teachers at large. We didn’t have much in infrastructure on-site to accommodate, so we’re looking at it for this fall.

Dung Mao:

Well, we have Microsoft Teams for virtual connection. We also have Moodle to do classroom management.

Emily Fairbrother:

We had a learning management system, Schoology, which we’d been using for the entire year up to that point. We were able to utilize that and its associated problems that came with that. That worked out to be a Godsend for us.

Don Perro:

Our main problem was hardware because everybody was at school, so we sent everybody home with the computers that they would normally have used in the classroom since it was a one to one ratio. IT and the faculty worked together to get that to them. Then we bought Zoom licenses for all the faculty.

Gideon Schnog:

We had Zoom for about a year already before this happened. We have the D2L learning platform, so our online LMS. Those two things merged together to allow for the transition to happen, and everyone at our university has a Zoom license, faculty, staff, and students.

Jon Bergmann:

In our school, we were a little bit more open. We do have a D2L license like you do, Gideon, and that helped a lot. Also, the selected tool was Google Meet, but I went off the reservation and used Zoom because I wanted breakout rooms, and [Google] Meet didn’t have breakout rooms, so I broke the rules.

Gideon Schnog:

We also were testing Google; we had Skype at the time; we are also a Microsoft Teams shop. When it came to separating the business from students, we run those two avenues. Teams being the business, Zoom being the academic side. Fortunately, since we had Zoom for a substantial period before the outbreak happened, we were able to bolster our security platform because that was a big problem as many know that people just bought Zoom and said, great. We have video conferencing, but they didn’t dive into the administrative side of things. We had a deep dive in that testing, and our security team was on top of it.

Jon Bergmann:

Did anybody discover some new tools? As the experiment, the emergency teaching, whatever you want to call it happened, did you discover anything new that you said, oh my, wow, this is awesome?

Emily Fairbrother:

Yes, for sure. We were completely asynchronous. We had no Google Meet; we had no Teams; we had no nothing. It was all asynchronous. One of the things that I used, and I know a lot of my colleagues did too was a screencasting app. I think it was Screencastify. That was perfect for giving feedback on writing, for example. My students, we kept up our weekly essays, they submitted their essays, I was able to give them detailed feedback. They could see me type it, they could hear me explain it, and they could listen to it in private, not have the embarrassment if you will of being criticized as an adolescent. That worked really well. I saw an improvement in writing I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, which was pretty stunning. That is something I want to continue to do, to use. That was a huge success.

Jon Bergmann:

I did something similar in that I’m a science teacher, and I give projects for my students to do. I gave them feedback, even though I did have synchronous time, I gave feedback on large assignments through Screencastify. It was transformative, it was amazing—other things you discovered that you didn’t expect from a technological perspective?

Dung Mao:

In my classroom, when I teach, I use Flipgrid. One of the things that I struggle with is to try to humanize this classroom, right? Now, we go into cyberspace, how do we make connections, and how do we do it seamlessly? Flipgrid is one tool that it is free and faculty could use. Another one is Squiggle, this new kid on the block. It allows you to create animated video very quickly without having to go in there, edit, and all that stuff. So adding that to the mix helps me deliver my contents in a really engaging way. Although we’re thrown into this as you said, we don’t have much time to either both learn and think about what we’re delivering. Those two tools, I find really because of the low learning curve, really allow me to leverage that for interaction.

Gideon Schnog:

For us, writing tablets. A lot of instructors that were in the physical space that could not really do a Zoom transition, how did we try to leverage them? Wacom had some small writing tablets so that mathematics teachers, physics teachers, and so on could still have that writing type environment because PowerPoints don’t work for everything. We were able to purchase some of those and deploy them to our faculty staff.

Jon Bergmann:

I rediscovered my Wacom tablet as well. I’d been making all my videos on Lightboard, but when I was remote, my Wacom tablet was, as a physic teacher–some of my students even bought their own Wacom tablets so that they could draw. The thing that I discovered, I know, Don, you want to say something, was a software tool called Go Formative where I could give an assignment and during my synchronous times, especially in my physics class, my students could be working a physics problem, and I could watch all students working on the problem simultaneously using either an iPad or a Wacom tablet. Then I could say, Joe, I’m looking at Joe’s paper, Emily’s, and all these different peoples. I can give them that over the shoulder feedback even though we’re all in different spaces. It may be a little annoying because everyone’s hearing me give the feedback to Joe. It was imperfect, but it worked. Don, you were going to say something?

Don Perro:

We’re really technical, teaching 2D hand-drawn animation, so we all have some… so that was the main thing, getting that home, as I said. I’ve always used Bandicam for quick in-class videos that I could give to people so they could see the lecture again, especially in tutorials for software. Software teaching is a terrible use of class time. It’s best to do it at home anyway. We’ve been using Camtasia for refined videos, but mostly Bandicam for quick captures. Animation software, you can draw in 2D animation softwares, so it all worked really well. Actually, animation industry is one of the few industries that have actually prospered during his pandemic because everybody can work at home.

Jon Bergmann:

Yes. That’s cool. We’ve now talked about tech tools that you’ve discovered. Did you have any discoveries just about the educational environment that were positive, that weren’t just here’s a cool tool, which we’ve all talked about? Does anybody have an aha moment from a pedagogical, andrological perspective?

Gideon Schnog:

I mean, I wouldn’t call it so much of an aha moment, but it was positive to see a lot of our instructors willing to get on board and understand that the environment has changed. Even if they didn’t want to change, they had to adapt. Our academic team, we have a department called CTLE, which is the one that provides training specifically in technology to faculty, they really tried to get ahead of it. We were planning since January already. We saw writing on the wall. As much as we can plan and give the suggestions, that didn’t mean we got approvals to buy everything we needed. Obviously, there’s a lot of shortages in hardware now. At least, we had the training methods, and we were poised to support staff as best we could. There was still a little bit of a disconnect because academics and IT don’t live in the same world, so we have lots of tools to give and lots of training to provide, but academia will still try to go down their route and try to make things work in what seemed to work in a classroom environment. That’s where we both have to merge and adapt better.

Dung Mao:

I just want to echo what Gideon said in terms of faculty stepping up to the plate. We were thrown into this and we’re like, crap. We’re going from the classroom, I can interact with my students, now I can’t reach out to do anything. I have to really trust that they are understanding what I’m telling them, and if they don’t trust that, they ask me questions. With that transition then, our faculty had to sit down and go, okay. What is important here? I can’t give a three-hour lecture or I can’t do a three-hour screencast because students fall asleep within the first 15 minutes. What is important? How can I leverage that essence of my lesson to deliver it online? I think that’s one of the things I see and it’s just awesome to witness.

Gideon Schnog:

That’s what we were trying to help with a little bit. Pardon me on that because like you mentioned, a three-hour lecture, someone’s going to fall asleep. We were all students at some point. Even physically in class, it’s difficult sometimes. The flipped classroom is critical, but it’s hard to visualize that or understand how to do that without knowing the tools available to you. Providing that flipped environment saying, here’s everything you need to know for this upcoming class. Then, the class becomes more engaging, like our meeting right now. We’re having discussions, we’re having questions, we’re talking back and forth. It’s not a regurgitation of a textbook. That’s why we are trying to support our faculty so much. The other challenge is the students. Our business model here, I also have to work with all the students that are calling our help desk saying, “I’m not getting the resources I need, I’m not getting the help, it’s not for lack of trying.” How do we connect that to the academic side? That’s where I’m playing on both sides of that field.

Emily Fairbrother:

I’d like to build a little on what Yuan was saying as well. In terms of insights from a secondary teacher’s perspective, students are suddenly being masters of their own schedules and the way that they choose to do things, when they choose to work and how they choose to work, which for me raises the question, how often do they need to be in the classroom? I’ve got students being hugely successful in their home environments with the support of their parents. Do we actually need to have them in the classroom five days a week? That was I think something that lends itself to a blended approach or a flipped-classroom approach. That was my aha moment. How are we going to honor that? If we do eventually get back into a classroom, we have 80 minutes blocks. We’re on a semesters system. We’re going to expect them to sit there for 80 minutes. Can I do that anymore? Do I want them to? There are so many aha moments. That was a key one for me and that’s something I want to think about before I actually get them back.

Jon Bergmann:

I was talking with Robert Talbert. I don’t know if some of you know of Robert, Robert wrote the book Flipped Learning for Higher Education. I may have the title wrong. We’ve talked at length. He said something that was intriguing. He said when we took away class time, people realized how valuable class time was because our synchronous time in our physical classrooms with our students, really brought the question that people in Flipped learned have been talking about for a dozen years is the question, what’s the best use of your face-to-face class time? I think we’re realizing that it’s not someone standing up and delivering a three-hour lecture. I mean, nobody’s defending lecture anymore because it’s something else. Something else’s, probably a better answer. It’s project-based learning, it’s the discussion, it’s debate, it’s help, it’s experiments, it’s projects, it’s those kinds of things that are the most important things that we can do. Let’s switch our conversation now and have our conversation about, what are we doing? Again, Robert Talbert said something else very recently in the same conversation. He said, “Everybody gave us forgiveness when we started doing this whole thing at the beginning because we were thrust overnight in most cases into remote learning, but now we’ve got to get it right,” because we’ve got students coming back if you’re a university professor who are paying good money as a father of a senior in college. We’re paying really good money for her to go to college. She’s relatively unsatisfied frankly with what happened when she went remote. They are expecting more. What’s going to happen? What are we going to deal with? We’re going to deal with a situation where we may be remote, we may be all face to face, or likely some hybrid of that. If you’re going to do social distancing, I don’t think you can have a lecture hall of 300 students. I just don’t see that happening. What are your thoughts? What are your plans? How are you planning things going forward knowing that there’s probably great uncertainty in every state that we live in or locality?

Daniel Tracy:

Something that we’re looking at right now is that uncertainty. We don’t have the knowledge that this is how it will look like next year. We have a budget for this year that has to accommodate this uncertainty. We’re taking our time with looking at what a mobile, what a temporary solution will be with our smaller budget for the coming season. We’re looking at rooms that are a quarter full, we’re looking at rooms that weren’t meant to be streamed that aren’t distant learning friendly. We have a much smaller budget to accommodate these issues and to surmount these challenges. So we’re looking at content focus, we’re looking at mics that can be reused in the future, and if this ends up getting installed for the long term, this is something we have to accommodate moving forward, that these can be slid in as permanent solutions.

Gideon Schnog:

I would agree with Dan. It’s definitely difficult for universities whether you’re profit or not for profit, you still got to keep the doors open, you still got to keep the students coming in, and you have to keep them satisfied. That’s something we’ve definitely echoed with our administration that whatever solution we’re coming with now, it’s really a temporary one. There’s no school that can upgrade 200 classrooms to the technology that is truly needed in the space to make it satisfactory for all the students and the amount of dollars that they’re providing to the school. I mean, besides what we’re trying to put webcams everywhere with decent microphones and deploying that across all our rooms because we are going to be running a hybrid approach here at Saint Leo because a big part of our value add is that student interaction piece, which is now obviously a challenge because you can’t interact as much. Our class sizes were always small. We have about a one to 14 student ratio for the instructor so it’s not these big research universities that sometimes have 300 kids in a classroom. Our campus itself, it’s a beautiful location. That is part of our value add, that interaction piece on campus. Having those quiet spaces, building with your team, so it’ll be interesting. CARES Act will obviously fund part of what we’re trying to do, and I hope many of your institutions have received some of this funding as well. We’re going to see how we go with it. We definitely have literally a five year plan. That’s what you need, you start with what we can do to satisfy students and promise them to do better with every passing semester. We don’t want one student online to say this is my week to be online, I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t see anything, I lost my lesson. Then, they’ll argue and say I don’t want to be the online student. I want to be the in-class student. Let someone else go online. We can’t have this back and forth with all our classrooms, so we need to make sure that everyone’s satisfied in the end.

Don Perro:

One of the things that we really lost in mid-March was the family sense because we’re post secondary, small cohort, and one of the things our grads say is it’s really like a family like they’re taken care of, they know each other, we mix the cohorts every semester so they all get to know each other. We have friendly competition, but we lost that by going remote. That’s the hard thing to try to rediscover. We’re doing that with getting in touch with students and keeping students because they’re all thinking maybe a gap year this year. You want to make sure they stay with you. Even before their deposits were paid, I was doing online classes in basic software that we were going to use. TVPaint for drawing and animating and getting to know them online even before they registered or before they deposited. Then, making sure the things that we have like pizza parties, mini competitions with prizes where they’re creating things, just keeping their interest up that way and focusing on, who are you missing out? There’s always a few in the corners. Find out one to one even, what’s going on? How can we help? Making sure their interest is up high.

Gideon Schnog:

If I may add to that real quick, that was one of the reasons we wanted to give Zoom licenses to all our students because we knew that once they had their license and freedom to do whatever they wanted with that, we wanted to make sure their organizations could have regular meetings, they could have parties online, and we’ve heard about this. An organization said, “Hey,  come to our party, we’ll have music, we’ll talk about topics, and open discussions.” We’ve actually seen that happen. Now, it’s still not perfect because obviously social interaction is different, but right now it’s working okay, and I hope at some point we can gather again in the near future.

Emily Fairbrother:

To build a little more on what Don was saying, I think what Yuan was saying earlier, building relationships is really at the heart of teaching. The flip side of what I was saying before in terms of, do we need kids in the classroom quite as much? No, but yes. We do need to be able to be in the room to be able to create those positive relationships so we can provide that really supportive environment for all of our students. I think it was Don who was just saying some kids are falling through the cracks. That’s an issue. There are places in our county in the northern part of our county that do not yet have broadband access. Our district has provided hot spots, but if there’s a big gust of wind, apparently they don’t work anymore. There’s that aspect. There’s also the aspect of, are students able to do it by themselves? Do they have for example a situation in their home where they don’t have that quiet space to be able to learn? How do we reach out to them? Those students who are just too overwhelmed to even log into our learning management systems where they don’t see just my class, they see their other classes as well, and are completely overwhelmed by, where do I even begin? We know more about the virus now. I’m hoping that there are ways we can figure out to meet with those kids one on one six feet apart with masks, however, to be able to pick those kids up and make sure they don’t slip through the cracks. The flip side is the kids who have all that in place, I think they really enjoyed the independence of it and that’s to be encouraged too. We want independent learners, we want people who can schedule, we want people who can prioritize. I’ve got a lot going on in my head. I’m sorry. I’ll try and break it down a little bit. Definitely, want to figure out ways to build positive relationships so we can meet the needs of all the kids.

Jon Bergmann:

Let’s keep on that vein, relationships. Let’s be honest, some of us are going to be remote, maybe all of us remote to some degree as we go back to school. How are we going to build those relationships if indeed you don’t have the opportunity or limited opportunity to go face to face?

Don Perro:

Well, the breakout rooms are great in Zoom. Having small groups because they’re more likely to get to know each other and build those relationships. Anything that doesn’t have a breakout room, not really interested in it. The institutions don’t always like that. Sometimes, they’ve paid for years of service for some other technology that’s not keeping up. Again, I think Gideon said it, we just went renegade and bought licenses.

Gideon Schnog:

The relationships is definitely an important part. For us, we’re trying to also foster the relationship with the parents. I think even more so that’s important for you, Emily. In a college environment, the students are independent. Their parents are sitting back, but really now we have to engage them more, especially with the incoming freshmen and sophomores because those parents are going to be engaged because they want to know what’s going on. What’s going on in the academic environment that’s leveraging what the parents are paying for school if they are or for the students’ position that’s either funding their own education, how are they getting that money back too? We have a lot of open houses for parents that are asking a lot of very similar questions that we’re seeing here. How is my child going to be a student in your institution? How is it going to be different than another institution? Technically, everyone doing the same thing. Everyone’s got the same, we’re all in the same boat, trying to do hybrid, trying to do online, so where’s the differentiator? It’s going to be in the quality of our faculty, it’s going to be in the quality of the delivery method, and the quality of the customer service when things don’t go right. We’re trying to make sure we check all those boxes. The relationship is a big part of that.

Dung Mao:

I wonder when we’re talking about relationship, what does it take to build relationship? Is it in the same physical room? I mean, I’ve seen students who sit in the classroom of 100 and not know anybody there. Is it the quality of the ideas that’s being bounced? Is it about connecting around shared experiences? Right now, we have a rare opportunity for shared experiences. How do we then as instructor create an environment where we can ask meaningful questions for those shared experiences to come out? Sometimes, we have our curriculum and we’re not tapping into what’s going on in the world around us. Either look at the news, or look at our families. Look at different aspects of what we’re going through. Our finances for example. Could we structure our courses so that it could be more relevant or even bring in those content? Could we go beyond just the four walls of our classroom or even virtual space to say, can you show me what your community looks like? Can you share that experience with me? That way, I can connect with you in some aspect. I believe that if we figure a way to reframe education in that sense, we could get a lot more connections with our students. Right now, I’m meeting all of you who have never met ever and I am connecting because we have the shared experiences. I believe this conversation is really meaningful.

Jon Bergmann:

I’m worried, but I’m not. I think I’m excited about this new year. This is going to sound horrible to some degree, but maybe from an educational perspective, the pandemic may be a good thing. Hear me carefully. The pandemic has been horrible, I know people who have passed away. It’s medically bad, economically all kinds of issues. It’s making us rethink what school is. I think it’s a conversation that I’m happy that’s happening. I’m not happy the circumstances of course. I think we can rethink what education is. This is such an amazing opportunity for us to rethink what it looks like in education. What does class look like? Yuan, you really brought up such a good point. What does a relationship mean? What does that look like? Can it be fostered in an online context? I would argue, yes, yes, and yes. For one of our certification courses recently interviewed a whole bunch of teachers who are just online teachers, this is their job, they’ve done this for years and years. I asked them the question. One of the big questions was, how do you build relationships with your students? They said it works. They gave 10 strategies, I don’t know, whatever it was on how they build meaningful relationships. Some students, Emily, like you’ve got who are in the northern area of your county, people with limited access, they talked about how they were able to engage those students even when they never see them physically in the same space. It is possible, but it is more difficult. As they said, you have to be much more intentional. It was fascinating to listen to some of their strategies in terms of, how do you build those relationships? I’m rambling, any other thoughts on relationships?

Daniel Tracy:

Yes. I feel that in media services, and probably a lot of you working in IT fields feel this too, over this period that we’ve all been home, we’ve all been doing a lot of webinars, certification courses, and they no longer exist in just the time in which you are face-to-face. They have an accompaniment, they have Slack, they have something that goes along with it that takes it outside just the face-to-face time in which you’re still interacting with everyone in these courses even outside of your face to face meetings. Learning suddenly doesn’t exist just in the room during this time to this time. I feel that learning going forward is going to be a lot more fluid. It will happen on a Tuesday night, a Monday morning, and Thursday midday, you’ll participate at your own pace. I feel like that’s something we’re all going to have to accommodate in the future. That’s not going to go away.

Gideon Schnog:

It’s just interesting to see how we’re going to accommodate the more physical programs. For example, having a chemistry lab, having a music room. We have a crime scene house here where people can do forensic investigation, which means you need to be hands-on. You got to see, hear, and feel these type of spaces. Like Emily was talking about, some students just don’t have the capability to have even … we take it for granted that everyone has a laptop or a computer. There’s many people that do not. Even just access to internet, let alone a bunsen burner, test tubes, and things like that, and do it in a safe manner. It’ll be interesting to see. Once we resolve the everyone else that can see a PowerPoint and do a flipped classroom, how do we refocus on those physical programs that are so important to just our daily life? How do we make those work?

Jon Bergmann:

I’m envisioning a hybrid classroom. Here, I’m sitting in my classroom, and expecting half the kids at a time. I’m not sure, we haven’t completely decided at our school. If I saw my kids for half the time I used to, and I saw them twice as often so to speak or if you cut the classes in half, I think you could do this, but what would I do during the time they’re physically present? It would be the hands-on activities. It’s the science experiments and things like that. The other stuff we would have to move online. If I see kids half, Monday, Wednesday let’s say twice a week, then on Tuesday and Thursday I’m not expecting them to be Skyping in or Zooming into the classroom. No, they’re going to be working asynchronously on other things that they’re supposed to do. I think that’s the only way I can envision a hybrid class working where I sometimes see students. I don’t want to install cameras in my room so that students who aren’t here can walk in the room, can view that. I don’t think that’s going to be useful. I think the better solution is to rethink how we teach and if I get any face-to-face class time, then I want to make that as valuable and the things they could never do at home, they’re going to do when they’re here. Go ahead, Emily.

Emily Fairbrother:

Just to build on that, that’s exactly how I was envisioning my classroom going back. I’m hoping we get some time with students. If we do, that’s how I’ll go about it. I think it resolves the tension a little bit between my students who have been really successful at mastering their own schedule. Somebody was talking about that a little earlier. Students who are turning in assignments at 2:00 o’clock on Tuesday morning, it happened, and I couldn’t understand why, but it happened. It works for them. They get to still do that, yet I still get to have them in the classroom, build the relationship, have the writing workshops, do that debate, whatever it happens to be. That’s the best of both worlds if you will.

Don Perro:

Our big challenge is life drawing along those lines because drawing from a nude model, you need to be there because when it’s on a screen, it’s already flattened, and you don’t learn how to change that from three dimensions into a 2D plain. We’ve been trying to get our heads around that and that’s the one class, which we are looking at a mixed-mode where half the class comes in and draws from the model in a safe distance or drawing at home, clothed family figures and friends, and getting feedback on that through remote learning.

Gideon Schnog:

Jon, it’s interesting what you say because corona is of course a terrible thing, but it is a catalyst. It’s actually driving change for efficiency, especially in the education sphere. All these challenges that you all are mentioning like the modeling and being in a physics classroom or a chemistry classroom, we’re going to come up with unique ways to do this, and I think augmented reality is also getting a big push in this because being there but not being there is going to be that next step. As big as corona is, it could be much bigger in the future. We don’t know what else is going to come. Even here in Florida where we’re located, a hurricane could knock out power for two, three weeks at a time for many people and just disrupt services. What we’re doing now actually helps transition those type of situations much better. Hopefully, this leads to positive impacts, faster learning, more independence, more resources, and we can make lemonade out of lemons as they say. Even you for your work. Imagine if you commuted every day, how much efficiency loss are you having sitting in your car? Now, you can be productive as long as you’ve got a good home environment or a remote office, now, you can be productive right away after you have that morning coffee rather than sitting in that car.

Jon Bergmann:

There are pluses and minuses. As I sit here at this school, I think of our football players, our basketball teams, and some of the intangible things that all got canceled at the end. Baseball kids who didn’t get a chance to play. I mean, those are things that are the intangibles of a school that … they aren’t intangible. They’re very important. These are questions I don’t have the answers to, but we want to still have those opportunities for students to engage in those types of activities that do take place best in a physical location.

Gideon Schnog:

I thought we were going to solve that all today.

Jon Bergmann:

Speaking of solving, I’m looking at the time, and I know we’re just about up against our time limit. I guess I want to ask. A lot of people are going to watch this from all over the world. What advice do you have? This idea of the fluid, the idea we’re going to move from face-to-face to in-person, to back to face-to-face, whatever it might be, what’s your top advice that you would give the folks who are in the audience?

Don Perro:

I’m preparing for the worst and assuming that it’s always going to be remote from now on until the end of days. Just when we can get the opportunity to get together, then we will. Other than that, I think nothing certain, but that’s my way of looking at things.

Gideon Schnog:

I would say, be creative. Don’t keep yourself in that box that we’ve been living in for a long time. Use this opportunity to expand on the possible. There’s no terrible idea because that can lead to better ideas. Talk amongst your peers; it’s not doom and gloom. Use it to your advantage and make a difference. Like they say, dress for success when you go to work. If you’re at home, dress for success there too. That will yield other results and try to be as efficient and effective as you can.

Daniel Tracy:

I would say that we all have to stay in the mindset that we’re all still learning. This is a very fluid situation. Everything can change from this week to next month. You could be at half capacity, a quarter capacity, maybe there’s a vaccine next month, we don’t know. So keep in mind that whatever plan you come up with, it can change, and that’s okay because we’re all going through this.

Emily Fairbrother:

Be prepared if you haven’t already figured this out. This is going to change your teaching forever. That’s what’s going to happen. On a really practical level, learn your learning management systems that your district provides if you work for a district. Use it and learn it inside out, back to front, and upside down. It’s going to save your life.

Dung Mao:

I would tell our instructor, in particular, to be kind to yourself, this is not something that you need to know all right away. Then, go back to why you want to teach. What is our drive to teach? It is possible to create a virtual classroom, a virtual education where all your values could be met without having to sacrifice those drives, those motivators that you have from the beginning. Really be kind to yourself. We’re all in this together. We learn as we go. Eventually, we’ll get better.

Don Perro:

On that note, take time for yourself as well. Take a break, take a holiday. There’s going to be a lot of burnout I think for people who aren’t on top of that.

Gideon Schnog:

That’s exactly what I was going to say. Take a break. I catch myself working way more than I ever did while I was physically in the office because it’s hard to know when to turn off. I tell my staff, take microbreaks throughout the day. Just step away for a minute and come back. Even though you don’t think it’s useful, it does a world of good.

Jon Bergmann:

I would take half-hour walks just in the middle of the day because I just needed to walk away. That was huge for me, just walk away, and just I’ve got 30 minutes before I have office hours. I just need to go out for a walk. That was huge. My piece of advice would be make sure you keep the main thing the main thing. I think the main thing in education, we’ve talked about this at length, is relationships. It’s going to take more intentionality; it’s going to take more creativity to build relationships in whatever situation you have if you’re hybrid or if you’re remote. It can be done, get creative, figure out, pick up the phone, literally call your students, and have a conversation with them, with their parents, or whatever. Another advice was if the students are comfortable, have them give you a tour of their learning space. There’s all kinds of ways to build relationships. The thing I did that was the most powerful thing I did at the end of the year; this may not completely work in a complete remote setting. I turned on the webcam, and I recorded a message for each student. I just told them about what I saw in them that I appreciated. I got notes from parents and students who were in tears. I just wanted a way to say goodbye because I wasn’t going to see my students again. These are students, of course, I had for three quarters of a year, so I knew them. If I start completely remotely, I’m going to have to figure out how to build that relationship for them. That was the best thing I think I did in remote learning. Well, guys, thank you so much for joining us for this session. We completely appreciate this. You guys are awesome.






Editorial Leam
Editorial Team
This article was written by a collaboration of editors and columnists on the FLR editorial team or guest contributors.




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