Learning Reinvented

Teaching online during a pandemic is no easy task, especially when given little notice to turn every instructional plan into an online learning experience. Friday, March 13th, 2020, the Governor of Illinois closed all K-12 grade schools to prepare for the rapid outbreak of the COVID-19 virus that has been sweeping the world. Quickly, states began following suit by closing schools, restaurants, and stores to prevent the disease from spreading more.

Map by Education Week retrieved March 19, 2020.

Teachers wasted very little time to jump into action to prepare what others called a “once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.” Myself included panicked at the news and wondering how we were going to strive to achieve schooling in an at-home level. Schools implemented remote learning plans and teachers and companies across the world started providing free services and resources to those affected. I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support teachers and families have been given to get through this weird and unusual time.

After teaching remotely for about a week now, I have learned two things.

  1. We (teachers) and the general public do not realize how much we do in one lesson, one day, and one week, in order for kids to be successful learners and to get our information across. What we say, how we scaffold, what we provide, how we answer questions, our behavior management system, and how we evoke curiosity is skillfully planned throughout our occupation.
  2. I have found a new respect for YouTubers because recording myself has revealed a new confidence level that I never knew I had.
This is my smiling face after recording a simple Science experiment showing how water is transported through the roots to reach the leaves. Video recorded on Loom

Remote learning has been a fun, crazy, trial and error, adventurous challenge that makes me continually grow as an educator. Students and teachers are learning together and that is what education is supposed to be about. Since moving to remote learning, our goal is to provide learning experiences even though we cannot be in school. This experience has made me love learning more and makes me strive to be a better educator.

Flipgrid is easy to implement. Students record a short video reflection on what they’ve learned or how they are doing.

Each day I provide students a greeting video message informing them what they are going to learn today and what are expected of them. I teach students how to complete assignments correctly and accurately and provide websites and links that they can explore. I want them to know that “hey, I’m here” without actually being “here.” I also include some type of interaction platform that students can see, listen, or write to their classmates. Students have enjoyed being able to have contact with their peers while they are away.

I use Google Classroom to post assignments and link websites. Class Dojo has been a lifesaver in communicating with parents daily. I also use Gmail to send student updates and answer questions they might have.

If you are a teacher that is remotely learning, see this as an experience to further your expertise and to allow yourself to explore outside of your comfort zone. In the past week, I’ve discovered numerous websites that my kids and I have never seen or heard before. I recorded myself challenging students to complete a simple science experiment at home with an adult. I have also connected with my students in a whole new way and experiencing this journey together through all of the good and the bad has been amazing.

Teachers, we are amazing people in the lives of young students. We do more of what is expected of us and we are striving. Your strength, diligence, and integrity is being recognized throughout the country. This is our time.

Thank you to all of those who have read this blog post and those who are continuously doing their part to better our world. I, as well as others, feel grateful for the love and support that is being provided. For that I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

-Nikki Fishman @fishmaninfourth