Each year, Jess Gilcreast (librarian) and I get together to talk about how we are going to support our staff. We evaluate what we have done in the past and how we think we want to move forward. We know that each ‘student’ learns differently and keep that at the forefront when making decisions.
The first thing we wanted to tackle was how we were communication with staff this year. Staff receive too many emails. Staff don’t have a lot of time on their hands. Staff have too much information coming at them at once. So how do we get staff to want to learn/understand new things? It is one of the trickiest things for those of us in our positions.
On the eve of the last day of school, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the past year. I, just like most other educators, are ready for the break. It truly has been the most challenging year in my 18 years in education. And I know that I had it easier than administrators and teachers. We have accomplished A LOT over the past 15 months. We’ve all had stressful nights wondering how things were going to shape out. We’ve all had tough decisions that we had to make. We’ve all had to learn new skills.
Have you truly taken the opportunity to process what you have been able to accomplish? Whether you have the mental capacity to do it now or later, think about how you have grown as an educator and as a learner.
Nothing has been ‘normal’ this school year. Hosting our 5th Annual Future Ready Conference, back in March, in our district, was no different.
For the past four years, we have been hosting our own conference on one of our workshop days. We have had staff members as well as outside speakers partake in sharing out best practices sessions. We have managed to have about 100 different sessions offered throughout the day to help meet the needs of all of our staff.
Instead of following the traditional format of listening to a keynote session and then attending four different hour long sessions, the Bedford School District Tech Team wanted to come up with a way that staff could still grow professionally without having to be in the same space. We wanted to think differently. We wanted to think purposefully. We didn’t want staff to be in front of their screens necessarily the entire day. As a result, a menu idea was born.
Learning moment for me yesterday. It all started with this text message on my phone: “I figured out how to print comments from a google doc and I am crying tears of joy”. This came from one of our Humanities teachers, Steph Nichols. Of course, we connected to talk through the process that she discovered.
The Back Story
Every year, some of our teachers have to submit Internal Assessments for IB in order for our IB students to be assessed. In many cases, the IB program needs to see evidence of the feedback that the teacher has provided the student on their internal assessment. Our students and teachers use Google docs with the commenting feature. BUT, one of the major issues with printing a google doc is that you can’t print comments with it.
Well, obviously this is not helpful. I asked Steph Nichols what she has done in the past. She indicated she would:
Print the Google Doc
Re-hand write the comments that were already provided on the google doc
Scan the document with written annotations and send to self to add in Google Drive
Teachers sure have had to adapt quickly during this pandemic. Just the logistics alone. Never thought it would ever be a thing in my lifetime where a teacher would be required to teach students remotely or through a hybrid setting. I give them lots of praise for all that they have been able to accomplish. It isn’t easy.
Teaching 25-30 students on an 11 inch screen is just not enough real-estate when you have to talk to students, share a screen, do attendance, check email etc. I could go on and on and on. We also knew that there probably would be times where teachers had to teach from home. We wanted the flexibility of teachers being able to have a second monitor where ever they were (our teachers also don’t have their own classrooms).
We wanted to get teachers a monitor. However, we wanted to think different. We wanted to think 3-5 years from now and didn’t want to just buy the first monitor that we found. We wanted to think different. After doing some research, we decided we should purchase portable monitors that could be easily set up in any setting, instead of getting a desktop monitor that would only live in the classroom. The model that we purchased was: AOC e1659FWU 16″ LED USB Powered Portable Monitor with case.