Category: Reflection

E-learning, Home-Schooling, Gates Closing

I’ve waited a long time to write down my thoughts on what it has been like to go through e-learning, home schooling my two 8-year olds, and dealing with the stress involved of increased security measures around town. As we’ve been asking students to journal about their experiences so far, I have felt unable to do so. I’m not sure what has changed over the past few days, but I suddenly feel motivated to share some of my experiences as an educator, parent, and person living through this time of COVID-19. Perhaps it’s because the virus has hit the US and in WA State, my home, schools have just been announced closed for the next 6 weeks. I’ve seen comments on social media declaring these measures ridiculous and severe, while others feel as if this isn’t enough to stop the spread of the virus. I’ve seen comments where teachers are concerned about how they will be able to remotely teach their students, comments where parents are concerned about how they’re going to care for their children while out of school when they still have to go to work, and I’ve seen comments where some are concerned about how their children are going to get the one or two solid meals they eat thanks to school based programs. In general, the stress is evident regardless of your feelings about the State of Emergency that has been declared.

I’m not sure I have advice, only simply that I get it. It’s been 6 weeks here in Beijing and I’ve never felt so stressed, alone, out-of-control, and unlike myself. It hasn’t made much sense to me at all but I have learned or come to realize a few things:

  1. I am impressed and humbled by how quickly China has responded to contain this epidemic
  2. I can’t count on anything staying the same from day-to-day or even hour-hour…flexibility remains my new motto (I think this could be a post all on its own)
  3. I miss my students more than I thought possible–working with children is really where my passion lies
  4. I am terrible at home-schooling. Huge props, kudos, and all my love to those primary teachers-they deserve a massive raise!
  5. Providing students with authentic and relevant learning opportunities is even more important to me than before
  6. It takes students way longer to complete tasks via e-learning than we think–be gentle, just as we are stressed, so are our babes and they don’t always have the tools, support, and resources to work through the stress
  7. It’s okay to close your computer and step away for a while (okay, full disclosure, I’m terrible at this but I am working on it!)
  8. We’re all doing the best we can under less than ideal circumstances-time to pull out the Norms of Collaboration and presume positive intentions
  9. I really need to make time for me and I’m sure you do too. Self care is more important than ever! Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries!-easier said than done
  10. Find your tribe! Now more than ever, we need people we love around us. Check in on your friends-they could be struggling more than it appears. We got this!

Now, this list is not exhaustive and even as I write it, I feel a bit hypocritical. Some days are better than others. There are definitely days where I’ve wanted to give up and wallow in self pity and then there’ve been days where I feel good and all is under control. Some days I don’t monitor my girls on their ipads and I found out they watched music videos all day rather than completed their work-others they have a schedule and we totally rock e-learning. I think back to “Alexander’s Terrible, No Good, Horrible Day” when he says, “My mom says some days are just like that” and I’m slowly learning that’s okay.

Adjustment to Personal Goal 2018-19

Initially, my personal goal for the year was focused around:

  • Feedback on student work focuses on supporting students’ thinking and self-directed problem-solving.

After receiving the Tripod results, I was surprised (but pleasantly so!) to see that my students thought I already was doing a great job in this area. As such, I spent my time reviewing the data and looking for patterns that could help me determine a focus for the year.

What came up over and over again was anything using the word “summarize”. This was not completely surprising to me. Too many times, class runs right to the last minute and I’m frantically trying to get students to write their home learning in their planners. I focus so much on that, that I haven’t consistently summarized, or consolidated, the day’s learning. I spoke with my students about the result and they verbalized confusion around the word “summarize”. Many students said a summary is something that happens after they read and article or a book and then they tell what it was about. Through discussion, clarification on how summarize can be used in other scenarios was had.

After discussing with the students, I created a daily PPT slide that I put up as the moved to independent work. At the end of class, I then reviewed the slide as a reminder of our focus for the day. Over time, I moved away from the slide (the having to make a choice between using the whiteboard or projecting was a difficult one for me) and I started writing the target or day’s learning on the board. Above the target, I also had instructions for students when they first walk into the class. It’s a quick check for me to see who is reading the board also. Once we begin, I physically touch the target and at the end of class, I go back, touch the target and remind students of the day’s focus.