Teaching and Learning in the Time of COVID

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.

Captivate & Consolidate: Renewed Goals for 2019/20

As a learning support teacher, as well as, a language support teacher I am in a unique position as I serve students. I am able to really focus on their individual needs both academic and emotionally. I don’t have the added pressure of grading and developing curriculum to get them to particular benchmarks. Instead, I can focus on their particular learning needs as I help them achieve success in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of the learning goals that they are facing in their academic classes, however the approach I take to help them along the way can look a lot different. I feel very blessed to be able to serve students in this capacity.

In looking over my self-reflection at the start of the year, I notice that I am less confident in my ability to Captivate my students during our time together and Consolidate in order to ensure that their learning is impactful and meaningful. I recognize that these goals are similar to the ones that I made last year, as I feel that these remain areas that I can improve in.

Within the Captivate section I want to focus on the following:

  1. Make my lessons relevant to students’ lives and the world outside of school.
  2. Design lessons that are more interactive.
  3. Design lessons that pique my students’ curiosity and engage them actively in inquiry.

Within the Consolidate section these are the areas that I would like to focus on:

  1. Make explicit connections between lessons.
  2. Help students make connections within and across the curriculum.
  3. Refer to relevant current events or other meaningful applications of what my students are learning to facilitate transfer of knowledge and skills.

While providing a space where my students can achieve at a pace that is comfortable to them, I must still ensure that the support that I provide and the lessons that I deliver are lasting and impactful. I do not want to create a space that allows them to hide or back away from challenges, but instead give them the confidence to face those challenges. Both, Captivate and Consolidate are curricular goals and although I am not the academic teacher, I still should ensure that I am developing my students as learners so they are prepared for success in their classes.

I want to teach my students to be confident learners regardless of their individual learning needs. I desire to cultivate in them perseverance to keep trying and not to give up. By the time my students leave my support class, I want them to see themselves as effectual learners knowing that if they keep trying they will progress.

Final Feedback Round and Reflection

Recently the students that I serve completed their final feedback round. This year I found that getting true and valid feedback was a bit of a challenge. I completed the survey with the students that I support during pull-out classes, which is three in my EAL class and two in my Learning Support. I am lucky in that I am able to support them at such a higher level because the class are so small and intimate. For this reason, I believe that my scores within the 6 C’s were quite high and the feedback was mostly positive. I imagine that if I surveyed a larger population that my results would have been quite different.

Overall Responses


However there were two subgroups that I fell low in. Students described me low in the following statements:

“Teacher thinks we understand even when we don’t” and “We learn almost every day”.

This is really helpful because it tells me that I need to spend more time checking in with them even though we are a small group. I cannot assume that they understand and I should cultivate more discussion around what we are learning.

I really enjoyed this approach to teacher evaluation. I found it most helpful hearing directly from the students that I serve each day.



Student Feedback and What’s Next

What a whirlwind of a year! As a newbie here at ISB, I have found the year has already flown by and I am hanging on for dear life! Starting out new and recognizing the opportunity to grow and hone my skill as a support teacher, I decided to be a part of this professional growth pilot program, while also getting some insight into what my students thought about my approach to teaching. Although I received their feedback several months ago, I find myself just now taking the time to write.

In my previous post, I identified what I thought my areas of growth as being Captivate and Consolidate. However, the student data was slightly different. My students did agree that Consolidate was a weakness and it was my lowest area, however the other area was Challenge.

As a learning support teacher, I really appreciated this feedback. I always thought that I had mastered the balance of accommodating my students’ learning needs while at the same time challenging them at a pace that they are comfortable with. This feedback tells me that my students want me to challenge them more.

When I first saw this a while back, I immediately sought out ways to make my pull out classes more meaningful and challenging. I have found that my EAL class, in particular, was so receptive of more challenge and even asked for more. The more I pushed them with challenging activities while heightening my expectations of them, the more they responded. I also found that when I encouraged them to try and fail, that they became more engaged in the class and their level of involvement increased. I am lucky that I have a small class, because this further encouraged them to step out of their comfort zones with practicing their speaking and writing skills.

Within my pull out Learning Support class, I have encountered a bit more push back. My response to this was to find activities and lessons that they would connect with more and thus, find more meaningful. I recognize that the students in this particular class don’t want to be there, so my approach with them needs to be much different. I see the value in connecting with them in a way that they will feel supported and challenged, but also understanding in their frustrations.


“Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing.”

– Albert Einstein




7 C’s and Goal Setting

After reviewing the 7 C’s and the reflection questions, I have determined that my goals for this school year will be to focus in the areas of Consolidate and Captivate. As a support teacher this can be tricky, as I support students within their classes. However, within my own pull-out classes I can see that improving these two areas would benefit my students and make this time with them more meaningful.

As I was looking through the reflection questions for Captivate, I found that there were some questions that I could not thoroughly respond to. I can see that I should develop lessons that more closely link to students’ lives outside of school. I think that this not only creates meaningful learning opportunities for students, but it also piques their interest in the lesson. Additionally, I find that I am not always consistent in my level of energy with my pull-out classes. This is important, as my level of energy affects my mannerisms throughout a lesson and I cannot captivate their attention if I am not consistent in this area.

With students that are in a pull-out class, they are often not too thrilled to be there. Furthermore, students that are struggling with grasping a concept will often try to avoid it. As a learning support teacher, it is vital that I find ways to inspire and captivate these students, whether I am in a push in or pull-out situation. I would like to challenge myself to find new ways to engage students and create interest in whatever lesson  is taking place.

“A Challenge to teachers: Don’t start on your curriculum until you are sure you know your kid’s strengths, issues, hopes and fears.”

– Ira Socol

Additionally, focusing on the area of Consolidating was of equal importance. My personal and professional passion lies in helping all students to find success in the classroom. I see this particular area as finding ways to support students as they find connections within the lesson and to their prior knowledge and learning. As a support teacher, I am in the unique position to have many one on one interactions with students throughout their learning. I truly enjoy this aspect of teaching and I want to become even better at creating ways to support them at a greater level to now only understand the information being presented but to make the lesson more personal and valuable for them.

” The essence of our work is taking vast swaths of information and helping our students make sense of it.”

– Jennifer Gonzalez @cultofpedagogy

I look forward to developing in these areas throughout this school year. My goal is to find strategies and approaches throughout to better captivate my students and to create meaningful connections between content and the student’s own prior experiences and understanding. It seems that these two areas can easily go hand in hand and as one developes the other will natural progress as well. Recently, I have really pondered the idea that we are no longer the deliverers of information. As teachers, we no longer have the market on new information. Students have access to any and all information that they need. My role as an educator is to help students to synthesize and make sense of this information. Not only that, but to create opportunities for students to draw on their own knowledge and understanding of the world to make the skills that we are teaching them meaningful. Ideally, I would acknowledge my students’ individual passions and interests and draw on these as we introduce new skills.


Welcome to your Professional Learning Blog! This is a place for you to post your goals, and reflect on them throughout the year.

  • Decide on your goal, perhaps in consultation with your colleagues or principal, and create a post to share with this online professional learning community that you are now a part of! Categorise this post in Goal Setting. Set your goal by considering:
    • Self assessment and reflection based on new teacher standards  (Tripod 7C’s)
    • Previous or new observation data from peers and principals
    • Student surveys (online surveys developed and aligned with 7C’s)
  • Identify colleagues, coaches, principals etc. that will play a supporting role in achieving your goal, and invite them to view and comment on your post. Encourage them to bookmark your blog and visit regularly.
  • Throughout the year, collect and share evidence to support your progress. Categorise these posts in Reflection.
  • Encourage your colleagues to share your learning journey by engaging with your blog. In return, engage with their blog (and others across the School)
  • You may also like to share work that your students have created or your own professional achievements that may not be directly related to your goal setting. This is encouraged! Categorise these posts as Showcase.

If you need support using this platform, please don’t hesitate to contact Ed Tech, we are always happy to be of assistance!

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