#8weeksofsummer – Describe relationships with those you taught this year

As an instructional technology specialist, most often my teaching is less formal and structured than a traditional classroom teacher. I have found that over the past year with the many variations in learning – from starting fully remote, to hybrid learning for most of the year, and then (almost) fully back with all staff and students in the spring – there have been so many different challenges facing students, teachers, and families.

Start the challenge and learn more here: Week 1 #8weeksofsummer Blog Challenge 2021 | Hot Lunch Tray

Some of the more consistent relationships I have developed over the course of the past year has been:

  • A retired teacher came back to teach one period of Spanish 1 for some of our 8th grade students. An experienced and more “traditional” teacher, she was forced to use all sorts of digital tools that she would otherwise not have, including Zoom, Flipgrid, and Google Classroom. There was a lot of handholding, but that lessened after a while, and she was able to start adapting her traditional ways and exploring new ways to interact with, teach, and develop relationships with her students.
  • We have a number of (aging) SMARTboards in our district that some teachers use on a regular basis. Over the course of the years, they’ve developed a series of lessons that rely on the SMARTnotebook technology and had to be adapted to online learning. So, we worked on switching those lessons over to a combination of Google Slides and Pear Deck so they could accomplish similar goals with students without the use of the interactive panel.
  • Parent and Student communication has been very different over the course of the past year, with evening parent meetings, in-person Parent-Teacher Conferences, and student assemblies all needing to happen virtually. My relationships with administration throughout the district, as well as secretaries, guidance staff, and others have all grown because of the need to use and adapt a variety of technology tools and establish new procedures.

So many aspects of school life have changed, and I think in the long term many of these changes will be for the better. I’ve felt that I have served a largely supportive and reactive role, which has been appreciated from all involved, and for that I am thankful. However, it does make me want to build a more purposeful structure around my work, and support the school community in a less reactive, and more proactive way. Here’s what I’m planning on doing moving forward

  1. Instructional Technology Coaching – Google offers a certification called the “Google Certified Coach“. I have set up a coaching page and started to plant the seed within my district of my plans to focus on structured coaching next year, the benefits of that, and what it looks like. I’m excited to take this next step with my colleagues and look forward to being more directly involved in each of the classrooms.
  2. Student Workshops – Our middle school has adopted a new schedule for the upcoming school year, one that includes a WINN Block. During the “What I Need Now” block, my plan is to focus on the 4 C’s (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) by offering some student workshops that run for about 8 weeks and will have them exploring some new skills (like sketchnoting), experiencing using various apps in new ways (like pechakucha with Google Slides), and more. The beauty of having had the experience of using online communication tools means that during these blocks, not only can I have a group of students in my room with me, but I can also connect with learners from around the school via Google Meet, and record our sessions for others to access later.

We’ll see how it goes!

3 thoughts on “#8weeksofsummer – Describe relationships with those you taught this year”

  1. Wow, Anthony, it sounds like you helped make it a great year, considering the circumstances. I love taking this opportunity to reflect on the year with this blogging challenge. I’m sure it will be rewarding.

    Transferring all those SMARTnotebook lessons to Google Slides and Pear Deck sounds like a worthy endeavor. I’m sure your colleagues appreciated that. I love your proactive plan for the future too–helping others become Google certified and your WINN classes sound like solid strategies.

  2. Hi Anthony, thank you for sharing your relationships with others this past year. Your experience is very familiar; I especially was nodding along when you described it as reactionary and less proactive.

    Thank you for joining the #8weeksofsummer blog challenge. Please post a link to this awesome post in the comment section of the Week 1 prompt so others can enjoy as well. šŸ˜Š

  3. Hi Anthony,
    Your ideas for “structured coaching” next year really hit home for me. As a media specialist, I found myself last year in the role of technology support and supporting educators flipping lessons to online. I really like the your idea of taking control and being proactive rather than reactive with the educators needs in your school. Your post has motivated me to re-evaluate Google Coaching Certification this year to provide myself with a structure/framework for supporting my classroom teachers in Fall 2021.
    Thanks!
    Karen šŸ™‚

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