Jessica: What unexpected challenges did you face and what were the positive experiences or outcomes? I know I’m sure each of you have experienced some form of challenge throughout this. I would prefer obviously to hear what the positive outcomes were, what the challenge was to begin with. So. Amanda, we’ll start with you.
Amanda: I think the most concerning thing as we prepared for remote learning back in the fall was how do we get our teachers prepared for things like Zoom? That was brand new. How do we make sure, even though we’re all accustomed to using our learning management system Schoology, how do we make sure that everyone is using it in a similar fashion?
Because, like Kee mentioned, we are going to have parents taking a more, you know, important role in making sure that their students are in all of their different content areas. And if it’s different when they go into their math Schoology versus their language arts Schoology, that’s difficult for parents.
So our district dedicated the first five days of the teacher contract to provide professional event. And the most positive thing that came out of that I have a very distinct memory. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those first five days. My custodial staff recreated our cafeteria into a ginormous lecture hall for my staff.
We moved all of the science lab tables down to the cafeteria so that each teacher could have their own personal workstation. We were all socially distanced very different than what we’re accustomed to. You know, I usually have my teams sitting together so that they can collaborate. So, so just that image is very memorable.
But as we worked through those five days and we tried to chunk the material very similar to what we would do for our students. While myself and my teacher leader were the primary presenters, there were so many times that questions were asked and I’m like, I don’t know. And immediately hands would come up or people would just shout from the back of the room, a suggestion, or I’ve done it this way, or I Zoomed with my family during quarantine. And this is how we were able to unmute ourselves or prevent people from sharing their screen when we don’t want them to – the suggestions and the collaboration were phenomenal. We are a teeny middle school. So our teachers do collaborate a ton within their team. However, I also think that brings a bit of a silo effect where they work with the same group of teachers all of the time.
And they’re collaborating with the same group of people. To have almost 75, 80 people in a classroom, just sharing out. And then during collaborative work time, seeing that continue was really phenomenal. I think we all expected challenges. We all expected the unexpected but to see people really rise to the occasion.
I remember thinking, you know, typically during PD, you’ve got your veteran teachers that are like, I know how to do this. You’ve got your veteran teacher that maybe did some wonderful PD or workshop on their own. And they’re just ready gangbusters to implement that this school year, you’ve got your mediocre teachers that, you know, they just fly in and they’re like, just let the kids show up.
And then you’ve got your newbies that are like I have great ideas, but I don’t want to share them. Everybody was a first-year teacher. Nobody had a leg up on anybody. And so we really did have to band together, listen to suggestions, offer suggestions, and really create a team that really wants the best thing.
You know, we want to get the kids back into school at some point. We want to make the distance learning the best possible experience for the students as well as ourselves, as well as our families. So we’re going to have to work together. And, and that was like I said before, the most incredible and phenomenal thing I think I’ve ever experienced in my 16, 17 years in education.
Jessica: I would have to probably agree with you on that perspective, especially everyone becoming a first-year teacher at the same time.
And the good thing of having everyone just shouting out answers. And that was a great visual representation of what you guys want through being in the cafeteria.