This is the latest in a series of blogs by partners of the Fluency work.
By Christa Miller
The Data & Technology Fluency Project with the College of Education & Human Performance at West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University recently hosted The Connected Classroom Virtual Learning Series, providing training on a wide variety of topics. The trainings helped prepare us for the upcoming school year, whatever it may look like. In addition to the content, the trainings also helped provide a sense of calm and community. The trainings were totally optional, but we did it for the love of learning. The presenters volunteered their time for the love of learning. There is a lot that can happen when there is a love of learning.
There has been so much uncertainty over the last several months. As teachers we spend our summers looking ahead to the new school year, and as the time draws near, our anxiety and excitement begin to increase. This year has added a whole new level of anxiety. Of course, we have the normal worries: What will my students be like? How many students will I have? What
will my schedule be? But this year our questions are much bigger: Will we be teaching in our classrooms or virtually or some combination of the two? How do I effectively teach seven an eight-year-old students virtually? How do I get to know my students when I do not get to meet them in person? How can I truly connect with students I may only get to see twice a week? How can I create a community with my class if we are not all together?
The Connected Classroom Series helped to answer some of those big questions and ease some of the anxiety about the upcoming school year. It is so inspiring and encouraging to see so many wonderful educators coming together to share their knowledge. The Connected Classroom Series provided 27 different trainings presented by a variety of educators. Each of the trainings was designed to help us be better, more effective educators. The trainings provided information that would help us with teaching in person, virtually, or both.
I participated in several of the trainings, and each time I was inspired and walked away with a new set of skills, along with some relief that everything will be okay. The trainings helped ease some of the worries and provide a sense of calmness. Here are just a few highlights from the trainings I participated in:
At the end of each training, the presenters shared their contact information and offered to help in any way they could. This is a love of teaching. This is a love of learning. We are here for one another no matter what may come our way.
We can do this. We are a resilient bunch. We will come out and be better and stronger because of it. It is amazing to be part of such an awesome group of educators that never stops sharing information and always seeks to build one another up.
The workshop series provided so much more than just training. It was empowering to choose the trainings that we felt pertained to us and our situations. It was encouraging to hear from our peers. It was enlightening to learn about different tools and techniques to try. It was comforting to see that there are answers to our big questions. There are ways to connect with our students. Relationships and a sense of community can be built, even virtually. Virtual learning can be effective. I feel empowered to embrace this new school year. I am still reluctant to accept that this is how our school year will look, but I am thankful to have the tools and support of my educational community to make it effective.
I love that this workshop series was titled The Connected Classroom Virtual Learning Series. That is just what it was truly about – connections. Through the trainings we learned how to be connected with our students in so many ways, but we also saw the connection of educators. So many people out there are willing to share what they know, willing to help and support in any way they can, and that is so comforting to know. I know this year will be a success. As difficult as it may be, we will get through. There is a whole tribe out there ready to help. You get out what you put in. What are you bringing to your students this year?
*Recordings of The Connected Classroom series can be found on WLU's Topper Station
Christa Miller graduated from West Liberty University in 2005 with a major in Elementary Education. She later pursued her masters from West Virginia University. After spending a few years as a substitute, teaching a wide variety of subjects and grade levels, she began her full- time career as a teacher at Warwood School in 2010, teaching 1 st grade. Christa currently teaches 2 nd grade. Christa is National Board Certified and constantly seeks out ways to learn and grow. Christa currently is a member of Cohort 4 of The Data and Technology Fluency Project with West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab (situated in Carnegie Mellon University). Christa’s special interests include traveling, running, and spending time with her family.