January 15, 2022 by Dr. Robbie Barber
The original schedule had teachers returning on Monday, January 3rd for a workday followed by students on Tuesday. The announcement on December 31 to pivot to online classes starting Wednesday for three days meant that the weekend was spent in emails, forms, set-ups, and a list of to-dos to be back to online learning. We had to manage with an unknown number of teachers missing. And, in online learning, we cannot just tell a class to split up and go to these rooms. It’s much more complicated.
Here are some suggestions for pivoting:
- Have an Online Classroom and Use It When In-Person. Even though we have been in-person the entire first semester, we learned to use online classrooms last year. They allow us to post information, post and accept homework, and take quizzes online. (“No, I didn’t lose Johnny’s paper he turned in – he never posted.”) We started the school year with the requirement of setting up an online classroom. Teachers did not have to use it, but they had to make sure their students could access it if necessary. And, it became necessary.
- Have a Co-Teacher in Your Online Classroom. My school uses Google Classroom heavily. We also have Microsoft Teams available and itsLearning from the district. The math department wins for forethought this year. They had each person create a different Google Classroom for each of their 5 periods. Then, each person had to buddy up with another teacher and make the other teacher a co-teacher. This meant that when one was out sick (and it happened a lot), the other could post to their online room with information, instructions, etc.
- Create a Database of Teacher’s Online Classrooms. I created a form for teachers to fill out and share their Google classroom codes and meeting rooms at the start of the school year. On Dec. 31, when the principal asked if I could create this database, all I had to do was send him the link. We did need to get updated information from teachers, but the majority was done. We did NOT share this with parents. But admin, counselors, and front office secretaries could access the database (read only priviliges) and share a student’s class codes with that parent. (Most teachers added their students to the system, but there are always changes.)
- Share Information WITH SOLUTIONS. When we returned to the building, the online printing system that teachers’ laptops were tied to, did not work. Yes, teachers should be informed, but sending a note that something was down does not really help them. They need to know how to print right away. I sent the following email:
Teachers came to the Media Center to print. Yes, some sent me their files to print, but they know that it was not going to get attention if I was dealing with students or teaching classes. We all practiced patience while getting this working. The key is to have a plan. And a backup plan. And share those plans with others.
Teaching is one of the most resilient professions in the world. Despite changes in rules, administrations, students, parents, and co-workers, teachers continue to show up and share their best.