Teaching in the Time of Covid

Offering students rich and personalized online learning during this period of uncertainty is a challenge for many of us. Luckily, in this age of technology, there are plenty of tools educators can leverage to keep learning meaningful, engaging, and joyful. Below is the Online Learning Planner for my summer course, Pandemics, Plagues, and People, an example of how I carefully crafted an online #blended learning experience for middle school students curious about how disease has shaped our history.

Pandemics, Plagues, and People 2020

Some of the things I considered were how to establish and maintain connections with students I’ve never taught before, how to keep the content fresh and engaging, and how to give time for students to complete the work.

I establish connections by:

  • A welcome page with a personalized video introducing myself and the course
  • A welcome zoom introducing myself and the course
  • Scheduled zooms 3x per week with an agenda posted in DX on the lesson pages
  • FlipGrid introductions & discussion posts for students to engage with each other
  • Asynchronous lesson Loom videos + Agenda in DX so that students still get to see me and hear my voice explaining what to do for the day

I create fresh and engaging content by:

  • Using related media images at the top of every page
  • Including resources banks, shared docs, FlipGrid, short videos, and Edpuzzles
  • Creating Quizlets and KAHOOT! for formative assessment and gamification
  • Using Covid-19 as an exemplar (current info and the most recent pandemic)

I give time to complete the work by:

  • Having asynchronous lessons where students can work at their own pace (2x per week)
  • Intentionally using Zooms as a platform for collaboration, rather than simply disseminating information (ain’t no sage on the stage here!)
  • Have 2 “light” days to execute tasks that build towards their final project
  • Helping students organize their time by creating a suggested agenda for asynchronous days

I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on online learning (thank you GOA!) but always have room for growth and improvement. Primarily, I want to work on small activities throughout the course that build community in my class. One idea is to have a collaborative playlist for each section using Spotify, taking a moment to celebrate student achievements and share news, and maybe starting class once a week with a few jokes – we can’t bee so serious allllllllll the time, can we?

In terms of technology and planning, this year my goal is to leverage DX as much as possible. This means having all lessons, content, quizzes, and assignments, both face-to-face and online lessons, created and posted in DX so that students don’t have to flip between multiple platforms such as OneNote, DX, Blogs, etc. With the exception of Parlay – this is my new favourite tool apart from Loom – yes Clint, I’m STILL pro-Loom #loom4life! If you don’t know how to use Parlay, or what it is, here is a LOOM video I made last year for MS teachers – it was done on the fly, so forgive me! (new one coming soon!) I think for this to be successful, we need to create content together as a grade level, and this will offer much more consistency in our department to facilitate lesson sharing. For this, I’ll need my team’s support, but they’re awesome and open to new ideas, so I feel good about this!!!

Survey Reflection

The goal I set for myself this term was to focus on demonstrating care in my classroom to ensure that students felt valued, welcomed, and that they had a trusted adult in my class. As predicted, this was an area of growth for me, suggested by the TriPod survey results.

When looking at the data more closely, it seems that for the majority of students, I do check in and demonstrate care, but there are definitely some outliers that need to be addressed. As a result of the data, I’ve taken special care to check in with students in the morning that don’t outwardly display their feelings regularly. I try to make sure I visit the “outliers” at least twice per week whether it’s in homeroom or in humanities, or even in the hallway between classes.

In order to develop these strategies, I asked a few other teachers what they do, spoke with some of the counselors, and researched online. I think that even a simple, quick conversation directly with a student makes a world of difference and is a completely manageable task for me to continue to do!

I think I’ve made progress over the last few months with these check-in strategies and by giving targeted feedback to students in need. I hope to see these numbers increase over the next survey!


7Cs Professional Growth Goal

Image result for care

The goal I’ve decided to focus on is care. After doing the pre-goal survey, I recognize I have room for growth when it comes to demonstrating care, understanding, and sensitivity to students’ needs and moods. Middle school students have a lot of change and development and need extra support from trusted adults. Unfortunately, I find that I sometimes, particularly in the mornings before homeroom, I get wrapped up with preparing for the day, by review plans or emails, and I don’t always immediately check in on students or follow up when I notice that there is clearly something positive or negative happening in their lives.

My plan to address this is to talk to a colleague I feel consistently demonstrates care, observe their behaviour, conduct self-reflection and comparison with my own actions, and find a minimum of one strategy I can implement. I need support from counselors because I have a number of students with high needs in my class and could use some fresh strategies to apply.


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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