As we know, all too well, the last few years have been incredibly disruptive. However, I think there were several positives that can be taken away from teaching during this era. I empathise with beginning teachers and how incredibly hard establishing oneself must have been / continue to be. But, I do hope some of these ponderings help to see a silver lining or two that can be considered as we move into ‘the norm’ again.
I don’t know about you and your experiences, but I think it’s a fair call to say that many of us had to be more creative. Had to think outside the box more. I don’t think I’d ever invested as much time into how to engage my students as I did during 2020. Collaborating online, interactive tasks, hands-on tasks with limited resources, flipped learning and so on. I certainly keep this in the back of my mind when designing learning experiences for students now – how can this task become more creative?
- Accessibility to learning
I got into a great habit while teaching online ensuring students had access to everything they needed for their learning anywhere and anytime. This was embedded within my practice early on in my career, but I unfortunately lost this over time. Students needed to engage in their lessons at a different pace, some engaged more when in their own home space and some at school, and I needed a variety of different tools and resources. I would upload materials and tasks prior to classes for students to access, with the learning intentions and descriptions of the purpose of the tasks. I still do this now (irrespective of what learning platform/software the school uses) and this significantly helps with my planning, student accountability and flow between lessons.
- Recording assignment instructions and tips
I received feedback from many students (and colleagues) that when I would create screen recordings of how to complete a task (with resources that could be used and exemplars), this was really helpful. Writing this post has made me realise that over the last year I have stopped doing this, and I guess it comes back to the issue of time. However, when I start my next role in Term 3, I want to make this a priority again. Having access to that resource relates back to the previous point of accessibility, but also gives the students the opportunity to watch, rewatch, pause, rewind etc. Also, if students miss a class when an assignment is explained, then I would just direct them back to the recording. I have heard of teachers recording live during a lesson and then uploading that footage too. Give it a go and you may find you aren’t answering the same questions or repeating yourself 100 times!
- Students seek their own written feedback
I pride myself on the feedback I give students. I always feel like I give a lot though, a lot more than I probably should. As a result, written feedback can take me hours. I have shifted my expectation over the last few years around giving formative feedback to student choice. Checkpoints are invaluable and I highly encourage all teachers to include them, but if my students don’t meet their checkpoints, they know they won’t get written feedback until submission. Some may disagree with this, but I genuinely believe to promote student agency, students need to be able to juggle their own learning (part of which is the feedback they receive). This expectation has also increased my time, as some students decide not to seek written feedback.
- 1:1 meetings with students (especially Seniors)
Although students may have choice in their written feedback, I always have 1:1 10-15 minute meetings with my Senior students about their projects. This gives the opportunity for verbal feedback but also for me to informally check-in with how they are tracking. I started this during online learning via Google Meet and realised the majority of students found this helpful, as did I. The time dedicated to these 1:1 meetings have also clearly impacted on the quality of student work, their own time management and reduced the chasing up admin later on in the year.
So as we continue to move into the familiar, what can you take from the unprecedented?
This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Georgia Dougherty, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com
Pair this post with the following:
Advice to a New Teacher by Renee Reedhardt
Five Reasons to Collaborate in Schools by Allison Fink
Being A Champion by Vickie Merrick
Have you read the latest Book of the Month recommendation?