Planning for the 20-21 School Year
One thing we all have in common right now is that we have NO IDEA how to plan for this year. While chatting with some educator friends last week, we decided it's a no-checklist kind of year. Don't get me wrong, we'll have tons on our to-do list, but there isn't a checklist to follow to make back to school easy because no one has done it before!
So here's my attempt at making this year less painful...
As a coach, I'm trying my hardest to gather things that will help my teachers through an interesting mix of face-to-face and virual learning. They were just getting the hang of the virtual part, then we had to throw in the face-to-face part. That's out of our control, so we are going to try to make the best of it! My first thought was to help them create a workflow to their day so they aren't "live" all day, but they can include their virtual students during the most important times. Below are some guiding questions I found from NIET that might help with the planning process. In our school, we'll also be setting up a clickable schedule where teachers and students can click on the link they need at the right time to join a live meeting with their class. To start with, we'll be setting up a morning, mid-day, and afternoon time that's required. The rest of the live times (since you can't always plan the best teachable moments) will be linked in Google Classroom for easy acces. I'll be posting more after we officially start school to try it out.
✅ Helpful Resources:
Google has been sharing a ton of resources to help educators make the best of our current situation and new trends that have surfaced to meet the needs of our students. Here are a few that can be shared with families since they will be in this with us. I'm thinking these would be great to share in your first newsletter or virtual introduction for the year.
If you are a GSuite district, there are tons of tools you can use to help make your instruction easy to navigate whether or not you are face-to-face, virtual, or a mix of both. Here are the tools & Extentions I have found really useful since last March when all this started.
📅 Google Calendar
Google Calendar can be a life saver for you when you are working in a digital enviroment. Using calendar events with a Google Meet link can make it much easier to keep track of time. I have notifications settings for anywhere from 15 to 5 minutes before an event to make sure I stay on schedule. Here are a few posts and resources that might help you if this sounds like something that will help your workflow (including a link to my post on surviving remote learning).
🎥 Google Meet
There's a few different ways to use Google Meet. Right now, the safest way to use it with students is to either go to meet.google.com and create a nicknamed meet from there, or use the Google Meet link in Google Classroom (which also serves as a nicknamed meet where students can't join without the teacher). Below I've linked Eric Curts Google Meet series so you can choose what you need to know.
🖼️ Google Slides
Google Slides is one of my favorite Google tools! It's not just about making presentations pretty, but making them effective and engaging.
Some of the ways you can use Google Slides to help you teach right now can include:
👩💻 Google Classroom
I won't even try to create my own resources for Google Classroom tutorials when I have access to Kasey Bell's resources! Check out all that she has to offer here. Also, she has an amazing Google Classroom Master class (that I've taken myself) that includes EVERYTHING you would need to know, and then some. If you are new to Google Classroom, do yourself a favor and take this course (which is on sale right now, because she's awesome like that)!
Here's the link to the course if the free resources linked above isn't enough for you.
Another thing I'd recommend is to listen to her latest Podcast on "How to Create Google Classroom Blended Learning Lessons" (part 3 of a great back-to-school series).
Some of my favorite extensions to use with the apps mentions above are linked below.
🔗 Wakelet, Edpuzzle, SeeSaw, and Flipgrid
These aren't Google tools, but they are sites we will be using a lot this year! As I've mentioned before, I use Wakelet for my #PottyPD and our school newsletter. We also started using it as a "hub" for lesson plans. Here's a post on some of the many ways you can use Wakelet.
Flipgrid is an amazing tool to keep your kids engaged and seeing each other even if they aren't in the school building with you. One of my favorite app smashing ideas is to start your Wakelet off with a Flipgrid short (embeded in Wakelet alread) to add your personality into your Wakelet collections. Want to know more about Flipgrid? You can check out the tons of resources already created for educators here.
SeeSaw! I haven't used SeeSaw myself much, but I know our K-2 teachers LOVE it! We bought a subscription for our teachers to use this year and they are super excited! I'll be able to share more on how we use it soon. In the meantime, check out their resources for educators here.
💡It's about the instruction & pedagogy, not just the tool!
As with any technology integration, you have to think about the purpose before you pick the tool. Here's a Toolkit from Shake Up Learning that will help you plan engaging lessons regardless of the tools you choose to support "Dynamic Learning" in your classroom. Just make sure to not overwhelm yourself and keep self-care on your calendar. I'd also love to hear what you are doing to try to keep yourself same this year. Tag me on Twitter or comment below with you thoughts! ~Pam
Rule #5: Be Camera Ready
This is coming from an extrovert who NEEDS people to feel complete! It's easy to get up and go to your computer after grabbing your coffee (or Vanilla Chai Tea in my case) and get to work. I personally start to feel like an unmotivated slob if I stay in my pajamas all day! These days, I get up and get ready like I would if I was leaving my house to go to work, except everyday is a jeans day! Since we are using Google Meet and Zoom for a lot of meetings these days (every day for me), having makeup on makes me feel like myself. Obviously, makeup is not important to everyone. The idea is to just keep your morning routine to be your best self!
Rule #4: Use A Digital Calendar
I love my paper calendar (right now it's a Passion Planner), but I haven't been using it as much since we are using Google Meet for all of our PLC's. When I'm home, it's much harder to keep up with time. I need my digital reminders so I don't miss any important meetings! The beauty of using Google Calendar is that you can add conferencing to all your events as well as notification shedules. I'd recommend setting them up with all your events so it's there if you need it.
Rule #3: Don't plan too far ahead
Things are changing so quickly right now, you don't want to stress yourself out by planning to far ahead and realizing those plans have to change. Our teachers have been planning for the week, including one day to catch up on everything that's due or work on a "May Do" choice board to give options to those who are done without overwhelming them with additional requirements. Haven't used Choice Boards yet, check these out!
Rule #2: Give Yourself Grace
My friend Kasey Bell wrote an awesome post about "Grace Over Grades" that really hit home for a lot of people, including me. It's not just about giving our kids Grace though, it's also about giving yourself grace! We have never had to live in a remote world like we are now, so we are all having to find our own groove. We don't even know how long it will last, so it's hard to set goals past today. We're taking one day at a time, and that's okay. We're all in it together!
Rule #1: Enjoy The Little Things
If you've ever seen the movie Zombieland, you'll know where this comes from. LOL! Not saying that we're in the same situation, but sometimes it feels like we are preparing for a zombie apocolypse! In all seriousness, this is a rule we should always follow. Think of the blessings that come out of difficult times and it will help you get through the day.
Here are a few ways I enjoy the little things...
How are you staying sane during this pandemic? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Tag me on Twitter @specialtechie
I'm an Instructional Coach at Daniel Island School in Berkeley County South Carolina and a Google Certified Trainer.