I think we are all very ready to call this school year a wrap. Taking time to rest and restore this summer is critical. But I first want to take a brief pause to reflect on this year while all of the emotions are still raw and fresh. While there are so many important topics to reflect on from this past year, I will stay focused on some powerful and perhaps unexpected wins that arose from our reliance on technology, and how I hope this will influence lesson design moving forward.
My Journey with Tech Integration
For me, tech integration has always been about the relationships tech helps foster, the ability to get deep insight into individual student and full class needs in a snapshot, and providing a platform for all styles of learners to share their ideas and have their needs met. I’m deeply passionate about educational technology, which is why I wrote Tech with Heart: Leveraging Technology to Empower Student Voice, Ease Anxiety, & Create Compassionate Classrooms.
My role this year revolved around supporting teachers, both through my position as Director of Innovation & Educational Technology at my school and also through presenting at various conferences, webinars, and even just through quick tips posted to my YouTube channel and Twitter! Moving to remote and hybrid learning was impossibly tough. People kept reaching out to me as an “expert” in the field since I began flipping my classroom over 10 years ago and because I have taught in a purely online format. Yes, I have a good amount of experience and stories to share on designing an online course. But we can’t compare pandemic teaching to being an online teacher! For starters, I had time to develop that course before it launched, to build in routines with my students from day one based on the online nature of the class, and students self-selected the online option! That said, teaching an online course made me a stronger teacher all around. Why? Because I had to be so intentional in everything that I did — from the instructions I provided, to the feedback I gave, to designing activities to keep collaboration alive when students were engaging in the course asynchronously.
Sometimes, Disconnected Students Come to Life Online
As we close this year, I am trying to process all of the feedback that I heard from the teachers I work with and think about what positives we can carry forward. One of the sentiments I heard most often, particularly when we moved from remote back to in-person learning, was around using the chat feature in Google Meet, Zoom, or Teams. Many teachers shared that they were surprised to see that some of the “chattiest” students were quiet in the classroom, and vice-versa — some students who seemed completely disconnected online came to life in the classroom. I hope that we can take a moment to pause and think about this:
What did participation look like in your classroom prior to this year? What did participation look like in your classroom during remote learning?
One thing that has fascinated me most about tech integration is the opportunity to leverage tech tools to empower all voices. As an introvert and person who needs time to process, I often struggled with the format of class participation when I was in school. I was rarely the one to shoot my hand up in class and found it difficult to have an answer on the spot when called on.
Continue reading on the McGraw Hill K-12 blog here.