Starting a new school year remotely is daunting and the unknowns can be frightening. I find myself wondering how I will connect to students through online learning and blended learning as I await my return to Beijing. Looking at photos of my classroom the feelings are mixed. How exciting that this is my space, but where are the personal touches? How does this space create a comfortable and inviting learning environment for the children that will walk through the doors? How will this impact them? With all these questions and unknowns, it will be so important that I connect with them and create a relationship with them. Although I am not there in person, what can I do that will still allow them to feel a sense of safety and belonging when they come into my classroom, or log in to a lesson? In the article, How to Successfully Take Offline Classes Online, Catlin Tucker shares the three interconnected presences of the Community of Inquiry Framework: Social Presence, Teaching Presence, and Cognitive Presence. Creating that social presence within your classroom is something that should be immediate and meaningful at the start of school, but cultivated throughout the school year. While the other two presences are clearly valuable, students must have their social needs met in order to connect with the content that is being delivered. For me, this will be at the forefront as we navigate online and blended learning.
Additionally, I was excited while watching the video presenting the Station Rotation model. While this is not something that is new, so to speak, it was an ‘aha’ for me as I realized that I can utilize this approach between myself and my Instructional Partner so that I can have meaningful interactions with my students daily using this model. This began as a puzzle for me as I was trying to figure out the best way to connect with each class, provide instruction, independent work time and one on one conferencing.
In Looking at the 5 Cs of online learning (Clarify, Care, Consolidate, Classroom Management, Collaborate), I feel confident in the areas of Care, Collaborate and Clarify. Classroom Management and Consolidate are the two areas that I would like to focus on for growth and increased excellence. Moving into a new role, while exciting, is also intimidating. Adding the fact that I am away from Beijing and unable to meet my classes face to face is a bit jarring. During this time of so many unknowns, creating a classroom culture that allows my students to feel comfortable and inspired as learners, regardless of what external pressures that we are currently facing, is of the utmost importance.
It is important that we all realize that we are navigating unknown waters together. We are not expected to know it all or to have all the answers. Being willing to ask questions and seek guidance is what will help all of us succeed this year. Working collaboratively with my amazing Grade 7 team my strategy for success this school year.