SY23: You Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

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August 7, 2022 by Dr. Robbie Barber

How do you start the new school year? August 1st started the first week back for teachers in our districts. (Yes, I know it’s a shock for some of you!) Our students arrive on Monday morning. This year has created more challenges. The key here is that unless you ask, you don’t know what your teachers know how to use or if it even exists.

First, the news reports are correct. Roughly a third of my teachers left our high school over the summer. Of those, two retired, and three left teaching. The rest moved (schools, districts, or states). It’s a struggle. And, at least one was late starting due to COVID. (We’re still in a pandemic, folks.) Second, technology upgrades and implementations are lagging. That is a problem annually, but its impact is even greater. The online classrooms will not be set up before students arrive. Once the access is complete, teachers need time to learn a new system and set up their “room” as they wish. Third, we are starting the year short-handed. Yes, there are positions posted, but everyone is beginning short-handed.

With all of these issues, what do we need to start the first week of school? Here are some suggestions and questions to ask to make sure teachers are ready to go.

  1. Instructions on how to connect your school laptop to the school video board.
    • Do you know how to duplicate and extend your laptop screen? Do you know what those two words do differently?
    • Does the sound work? Where are the settings for the sound on your board and your laptop?
    • Can you show videos from your laptop to the screen? Can you show Google Slides or MS PowerPoint slideshows?
  2. Instructions on using the district’s email.
    • Where do the Administrators post email?
    • How often should I check it?
    • Are there rules or norms for using email with other teachers?
  3. Multifactor Authentication (MFA) [Does your district use it?]
    • Do all of the new people know how to set up and test their MFA?
    • Do all of the existing staff remember how to use it?
  4. Communication with Students
    • What is the preferred software to communicate with students? The LMS? Email?
    • How do students access their email? (Teachers often teach students how to do this.)
    • Can students get information from my website?
    • Can students get information from the LMS?
    • Can I use Remind or another software package for more immediate notifications?
  5. LMS
    • Can everyone access it?
    • Does everyone know how to navigate within it?
    • Does everyone know how to post information, add assignments and due dates, add grades, and transfer to the grading portal?
    • Does everyone know how to communicate within the LMS?
  6. Who To Go To?
    • There is rarely one person in the school who can handle all of the technology issues. Make sure everyone knows how to contact or put in tickets for separate situations. Sometimes, you think it’s a hardware problem, but it is actually a software problem. Or vice-versa.
    • Does everyone know how to enter a ticket for technology support?
    • Do you have a School Librarian? They may be able to help with basic instructional systems support. But, if not, they generally know who to go to. Researching and finding answers is their specialty.
    • Do you have an Instructional Systems Support person? If you have one, make sure everyone knows the proper way to contact them (tickets, email, or call).

It is super hard to start over every year, but also super important. I taught all of my teachers how to use their new laptops and video boards last January when they were installed. For Monday morning’s start, I re-sent the lesson, not only because of all of the new teachers, but because the ones who were here did not remember it either. When we are learning, we need to review and repeat. Whether we are high school students or adults, we still need reminders, repetitions, and assistance.

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