From Remote to Hybrid
I feel like this year has been one big vocabulary lesson: hybrid, blended, remote, etc. And all these words seem to be getting jumbled up and confused. So first, before we go any further, let’s make sure we are all using the terminology in the same way.
(definitions taken and adapted from The Hybrid Teacher Survival Guide PDF)
So now, here we are in October, and just as we’re becoming comfortable with the routines and schedules of remote learning we’re again shifting. Some of us are teaching hybrid learners, some of us remote and others of us trying to teach learners no matter where or when they’re accessing the curriculum. For this post let’s look more closely at hybrid learning and some things teachers can do to help students and themselves not feel so overwhelmed.
I know, who knew there’d be a day that the ITRTs and coaches would say “hold back on tech tools!” but we want to be mindful of how most of these tools are new and overwhelming to families in the hybrid model. What’s most important right now is to use what we know, what we’re comfortable with, and what students are comfortable using. First, you don’t want to overload the student and the families with a million different tools, and you want your assignments to be in a similar format from week to week so they understand the process--change the content, not the delivery method. Second, teachers need to be using the same activities/materials in both settings whenever possible in order to stay sane. We want to remember that the curriculum drives the tech tools. The tech tool shouldn't be used because it's neat or clever if something else the students are familiar with is equally good at delivering the content.
Communicate with Stakeholders
We all can agree that the bombardment of calls, emails, and school updates since July has been exhausting and confusing! For many families this is the first time students and parents have relied on sending and receiving emails to stay updated on school happenings. To reduce this scrambling feeling many families have, it is important that we communicate with parents and students in the same manner--Weekly Wednesday updates or a Monday Newsletter, whatever works for the teacher. We want the parents and students to be able to easily access information in a concise format. If you share out at the same time each week, your parents and students will look for your correspondence and get used to referring to it when they have questions.
Emphasize Digital Citizenship
Digital citizenship needs to become a phrase students are familiar with as early as they are able to use technology. All students need digital citizenship skills to participate fully in online learning and to make smart choices online and in real life. Common Sense Media has a fantastic digital citizenship curriculum for grades K-12 that teachers can embed in their classroom and lessons. Initiating conversations and culture around digital citizenship early can help students navigate online hate speech, digital drama, and help students learn how to communicate effectively to people they trust.
Take Care of Yourself
Finally, we need to acknowledge that all of us have been affected by the pandemic in unprecedented ways. As teachers we are not an exception, and self-care is especially important. In order to best support others we need to extend grace in all directions, including to ourselves. Take time out to step away from your grading, planning, and email to take a walk, watch your favorite TV show, call a friend or family member, play a game with your kids, talk with your spouse or roommate, ride a bike, bake, or just take a deep breath. You will be better for it and so will your students.