This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By Sandra Wiseman
As I write these words, I have been out of my classroom for three weeks, learning to teach in a virtual environment. No one could have predicted just a month ago, that schools all over the country would be in this position. Teachers are very quickly learning new ways to communicate with their students and re-defining what education looks like. Concerns about the digital divide and how to meet the needs of our special education students have filled our digital staff meetings. For some this has been an easy transition. They jumped right in with Google Classrooms, virtual office hours and creating tutorial videos. Others have struggled, they are not comfortable with this online world and what to do or what tools to use. But everyone is coping in their own way and learning is taking place.
Many companies have made their paid services free so teachers are able to play with tools they would not have had a chance to experience before. They can compare things and truly find what works the best for them. One of my techie friends said she feels like a kid in a candy store as she gets to play with apps and programs that are now available to her. However, she is trying not to fall in love with anything because she knows her school won’t be to afford many of them when things return to normal.
I have to wonder what long term effect this will have on American education as we move forward. Will we go back to the way things have always been or will this great social experiment be the catalyst to make meaningful change? Will we truly reflect on this experience and change the way we interact with our students and how we incorporate technology?
I hope that as these days go by, we are paying attention to what we are experiencing and really transform our classrooms and instructional design. We need to look at what grade levels mean and how kids progress from one level to the next. We are looking at a year with no standardized testing and student will have had just ¾ of a year of face to face instruction. We will need new ways to determine what they have mastered and on where they belong. Teachers need to look at their content and instructional methods and take what’s good from this virtual experience and incorporate it into the physical classroom to provide the best learning environment possible. Teachers will have a better knowledge of educational tools and what works best for students. Hopefully they will be able to use this information and have more of a voice in what is purchased. We will also need to look at what we are asking kids to produce to show their learning and how we can use the tools we discovered during this virtual experiment to add variety to the face to face classroom.
I have been a member of the Fluency cohort for less than a year. Each session I’ve attended has left me energized and ready to go back to classroom, ready to collaborate and give my students new ways to grow and learn. I know the members of the data and Technology Fluency Project are ready to lead the way for meaningful change hopefully the rest of the education community is now ready to go with us.
Sandra Wiseman graduated from West Virginia University in 1983 with a major in Elementary Education specializing in Library Science. She has also earned a Masters Degree in Communication Studies from WVU and a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina.
Mrs. Wiseman is Nationally Board Certified in Library Science, PreK through young adult. She started her current position at Woodsdale Elementary in 1988. She is responsible for teaching library skills, technology and STEM based activities to the PreK – 5th grade students. She 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). Sandra’s special interests include reading, coding, robotics and video production.