How Has Teaching and Learning Changed Due to COVID-19?

Entry 4-October 9th

Family Feedback

Reflections/Feedback – Information Literacy Spaces

Returning to the communication topic from my last post, I want to now examine family feedback, and how crucial it can be in general, but specifically during a pandemic. Parents always want to know how their children are doing academically, but now that being on campus can be a matter of life and death, parents have numerous questions about the health and safety of their children. My son’s school, Pechersk School International (PSI), has put a lot of time and effort into modifying their campus, and putting in regulations to safeguard the students and staff. In the summer, all families received a Back to School Guide and accompanying video to take parents through the important decisions that were made, and the expectations of staff, students, and families going forward. Attached to the Back To School Guide, is a Google Document, which allows parents to continually ask questions which are answered by the Director, the school doctor, a CDC consultant, or one of the principals. Not having any direct experience with other schools, to search for norms, I can say with great confidence that PSI is exemplifying gold-standard measures for safety, communication, and for focusing on emotional wellbeing. To help students adjust to their hybrid learning situation, an advisory program has been established in the secondary school to ensure social-emotional learning is emphasized during this time of uncertainty. This class allows students time for questions, for games and for reflection.

Even with all the steps PSI has taken, and all the information they have sent out, the questions continue. Speaking to some of my friend’s who are teachers, they are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of emails they are receiving from parents. How do we ensure we are offering a sufficient amount of feedback, without experiencing teacher burn-out?

Ways to Provide and Receive Feedback from Students and Families

Please take 'return to school' parent survey, closes June 12 -  Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District
Surveys

Surveys let you know if the information you are providing is having the desired effect. Surveys also let you quickly see a graph or a tangible number to confirm or contradict your assumptions about parental satisfaction. There are several survey apps which make sending and receiving results quick and easy.

Video assessment killed the clip art star | The Scientific Teacher
Videos

Sometimes parents can get bogged down in all the newsletters, classroom information, or district e-mails. Just like students, it helps to cater to all types of learners in your community. One way to make parents feel at ease, especially if they are not allowed on campus is to make a video showing the measures you or your school has in place to keep them safe.

Eastern Michigan University to host virtual town hall, 'Empowering  Communities in Responding to the Challenges with COVID-19' - EMU Today
Virtual Town Hall

At PSI we have weekly town hall meetings which are recorded to ensure all parents can stay informed regardless of their schedule. This is another great way to impart information, but also for parents to ask or text questions and receive answers live. This way you may receive an answer to a question you didn’t realize you had!

Document Clipart Google Doc - Google Docs Logo Png , Free Transparent  Clipart - ClipartKey

You can start a Google Document to allow parents to ask any questions and then the answers will remain to allow for any parents to easily retrieve information that has already been posted. This can save time and allow a place for ongoing communication.

Keeping parents in the loop and providing them with a consistent place to ask questions will ease tensions throughout the year. Having said that, you do need a time to switch off. Clearly state to parents your communication policy. If you do not answer emails during school hours or after 9:00 P.M. for example, make parents aware of this:

“Teachers who sense scrutiny from parents and administrators during this time when their struggles are observed have more difficulty coping. Teachers who perceive collegial support, who set limits on their time and who practice self-understanding are more successful in recovering efficacy and coping” (Guerin, 2020).

Source

Guerin, C. 2020. How to Prevent Teacher Burnout During the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Conversation. Retrieved from: https://theconversation.com/how-to-prevent-teacher-burnout-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-139353.

How Has Teaching and Learning Changed Due to COVID-19?

Entry 3

Am I Making Myself Clear?

CASE : How to communicate more clearly while solving problems? - Start2BU

October 7th

Being able to communicate effectively is arguably our most important life skill. During COVID-19, this can be a real challenge. Whether you are teaching in person, in a hybrid setting, or online, effective communication is clearly necessary, but more difficult during this time. When discussing communication, we often see it examined in seven parts, as the seven Cs of Communication:

Effective communication in the workplace: 4 Effective communication -  OpenLearn - Open University - COM_1
Open.edu

I think it is important to re-look at these seven Cs through the lens of COVID-19, and evaluate whether we need to change or enhance our methods of communication.

Clarity: For those who are teaching in an asynchronous environment, or responding to emails, tone in the written word can be tricky. When trying to be funny or lighthearted, our messages can come off as odd or clunky and leave our students confused. When communicating, we need to be clear about our goals and try to avoid sarcasm, or cryptic messages. We need to be explicit, and state exactly what we want our students to do or know. Wearing a mask can also make it hard for some students who are used to reading lips or taking in facial cues like smiling, frowning or pausing. While some people smile with their eyes, it may be helpful to express what is going on under your mask, i.e., “I’m thinking right now.”

We need to be concise. When we introduce an assignment in person, students can get overwhelmed in the details. While it may seem important to include every detail at once, often students need time to sit with, or start the assignment before actually knowing what questions they may have. Breaking down the assignment into parts can help students get a handle on what you are asking them to do. Try to eliminate unnecessary information at the outset, and allow questions you receive to guide your instructions, once students have been provided with a hard or soft copy of the assignment.

Complete: While this may seem like the opposite of the advice just offered, having all relevant information in writing, makes the information available to check and recheck as a student works through their assignments. Have all the relevant information such as the due date, the expected length of the assignment, a rubric, and a clear, consistent place for students to be able to ask questions. Whether this is your email address, a Google Document a Zoom meeting, etc. Students need to be able to clarify instructions and have the ability to ask and have their questions answered. Communication is a two way street, and allowing a public place to ask questions can not only help that student, but allow others to benefit from their questions and your responses.

Correct: Double check your information before sending it out, as having the wrong dates on assignments, can cause a lot of confusion. Check your written assignments and messages for grammatical and spelling mistakes, and especially for the correct spelling of student names. Some students are used to teachers spelling, or pronouncing their names wrong. Make a real effort to get it right. My name is Leah, but people often pronounce my name as Leia (like Princess Leia). I usually just ignore it or roll with it, but it can go along way to building a positive atmosphere with your students if you make an effort to get the spelling and pronunciation right.

Courteous: During this uncertain time, having all students logging on to your class at the correct time, or wearing their masks properly when they arrive can seem like the only priority to worry about, but focusing on being courteous can go a long way in reducing stressful situations. Being friendly, and emphatic can allow your classes to run more smoothly and it allows you to model respectful communication even when under pressure.

Coherent: If you are new to online teaching or speaking through a mask, you may want to practice by video taping yourself to check for proper pacing, enunciation, and to see how many filler words you use. When becoming a teacher, we were constantly being taped to see what what we actually looked like or sounded like. My filler word was, and often still is, “okay.” Filler words are often unavoidable, but students may get caught up in these filler words and it may make focusing more difficult. My Grade 10 Social Studies teacher would clear his throat if we got an answer wrong. I can still hear him making the “er-h-r-m,” noise, even today!

Concrete: Providing students with a clear picture of what you are asking of them may need examples, like student work from a previous year, a photo, or a video to allow them to know what to expect. When proving an image, a story or example, this may make this abstract idea come to life.

Connected: Having reviewed the seven Cs and discussed the importance of effective communication, my focus for this year is to make it eight Cs and add “Connected ” to this list. Feeling connected is so important right now. Like many of you, I am feeling disconnected from friends, from family, from students and my way of life in general. Making students feel connected by checking in, offering remote collaborative experiences, and going beyond the course content to ensure everyone feels connected is what is needed right now.

“Humans are social creatures and have a deep biological and neurological need for interaction, so it follows that research has found that positive relationships in children’s lives play an important role in students’ ability to learn and cope” (Prothero, 2020).

“We know that kids learn best when they feel safe and secure; when they feel anxious and aroused and uncomfortable, learning stops,” said Laura Phillips, a neuropsychologist with the Child Mind Institute. “If we want to maximize the school year, we need to help kids start out feeling safe and connected to the people with whom they are interacting (Prothero, 2020).

There have always been differing views on the purpose of education, but in my view, feeling connected in a time where that is scarce, is my top priority. Everyone will remember 2020, but hopefully we can create opportunities for students to feel connected in an uncertain and unprecedented time.

Sources

Image Source: Open.edu

Prothero, 2020. How to Build Relationships With Students During COVID-19. Education week. Retrieved from: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/09/03/how-to-build-relationships-with-students-during.html?intc=eml-contshr-shr-desk.

How Has Teaching and Learning Changed Due to COVID-19?

Entry 2

October 3, 2020

Learning Curve

Keeping that learning curve steep | Dealer Support

In my last post, I stated that our response to change is key. We cannot spend time lamenting about the way things were or spending time resisting change. We therefore, need to address the learning curve during this pandemic. Some of us have known that our lessons would be solely online and have planned for this; some of have prepared our lessons for hybrid learning and still others have planned to deliver in person learning all year. No matter what your situation is, the way we teach and learn is different. There is no way around this fact. Even if you are teaching in person, you and your students will likely be wearing masks, or you may be seeing your students through plexiglass shields. You may not have access to shared materials and collaboration between students may be limited.

Although teaching and learning is different, the main goal should be the same. “The goal of any type learning system, regardless of the delivery is to promote learning, therefore, before any learning materials are developed, educators must tacitly or explicitly know the principles of learning and how students learn. This is especially true for online learning, where instructors and learners are separated. The development of effective online learning materials should be based on proven and sound learning theories. The delivery medium is not the determining factor in the quality of learning per se; rather, course design determines the effectiveness of the learning” (Rovai, 2002).

“To select the most appropriate instructional strategies, the online developer must know the different approaches to learning. Strategies should be selected to motivate learners, facilitate deep processing, build the whole person, cater to individual differences, promote meaningful learning, encourage interaction, provide relevant feedback, facilitate contextual learning, and provide support during the learning process” (Anderson, 2011).

For those teaching online, there are a number of valuable insights I have gleaned through reading up on delivering lessons remotely. Here are some of my main takeaways:

  • Practice your lesson before you deliver it. Practice retrieving files, having relevant tabs open and ensure you know which documents you will need and close those tabs that you won’t need.
  • Clarity is king. Ensure you deliver clear expectations and provide plenty of opportunities for questions and confirmation of assignments.
  • Ask students for feedback. This information will be invaluable to you in finding out if your microphone occasionally cuts out, if you are speaking too quickly, or if students have trouble finding where to find homework assignments, for example.
  • Provide a camera-off period to allow those students who feel anxious or uncomfortable answering questions to take a break from being “on.”
  • Create opportunities for students to teach. Students will gain confidence in their presentation skills, and it allows for students to learn from one another.
  • Involve families where appropriate. If you are teaching school aged children, ensure you provide opportunities for families to understand the expectations of their child, which can alleviate stress on both sides. When parents feel valued and informed, they will be more willing to collaborate with you and help enhance learning for their child. In my son’s school we have weekly town hall meetings to offer information and to allow parents to ask questions of the principal.

Sources:

Anderson, T. (2011). The Theory and Practice of Online Learning 2nd edition. Edmonton, Alberta: Library and Archives Canada.

Seltzer, K. (2020). Engaging Students in Virtual Instruction With the Camera Off. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/article/engaging-students-virtual-instruction-camera

Terada, Youki, (2020). 5 Research-Backed Tips to Improve Your Online Teaching Presence. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/article/5-research-backed-tips-improve-your-online-teaching-presence.

PME 811 – How Has Teaching and Learning Changed Due to COVID-19 – Entry 1

Quotes about Strong survive (59 quotes)

September 29th

Be Prepared for Change

As of September, some teachers have been working full time in a classroom, some are working from home and still others are doing a mix of both. All of those scenarios come with positives and negatives. Even though some of us would prefer to teach or learn in person, it does not mean that this is possible right now. We need to adapt and become “responsive to change.” COVID-19 is here for the foreseeable future, and to protect one another we have to understand that some changes are necessary for the common good. My son’s school is doing a fantastic job of protecting staff and students within a hybrid model, but this week they are back to online learning due to a COVID case which has put too many staff in quarantine to offer in person learning. Staff and students have to adapt to an evolving situation and learn to be prepared for a variety of scenarios.

I was extremely disappointed when I found out all my classes would be online. I did not want to teach remotely. I like socializing with my colleagues and I like the down time with my students. I enjoy our greetings, our chit chat throughout our lessons, and that is something that is now missing. I am still struggling to create some atmosphere in my classes. I should mention that I teach English as an additional language and for anyone who has taught or learned a language, working remotely can present specific challenges in terms of sound quality and the possibility of missing sounds or words. Although this can happen in all online teaching, missing words or making mistakes needs be corrected promptly before errors are ingrained. With that being said, working online is certainly efficient and streamlined. There isn’t the downtime, so there is actually more time for learning, which is a positive.

Online learning is not new and there have certainly been a lot of studies dedicated to researching the efficacy of remote learning.

Neuhauser (2010): Online learning is as effective as face-to-face learning

Johnson, Aragon, & Shaik (2000): Online learning is as effective as face-to-face learning for graduate students

The majority of the studies have concluded that online learning is as effective as in person learning, but it can depend on what aspect you are looking at. For example, online learning is less expensive than in person learning, but there are upkeep costs to consider, which can add up in ways not always anticipated. (Strother (2002) 

Just because online learning is effective and usually less expensive, doesn’t mean it is ideal for everyone. Some students definitely do better with in person learning, as the physical act of walking into the school indicates it is time for work, where some people have a harder time switching to learning mode in their homes. There are always other distractions such as gaming, eating, texting and napping to name a few.

I have been seeking out articles to help me better engage with my students. Here is one such article from Edutopia: 5 Research-Backed Tips to Improve Your Online Teaching Presence
http://www.edutopia.org/article/5-research-backed-tips-improve-your-online-teaching-presence.

Thinking back to the Darwin quote, our reality has changed. My goal, like many other people is to rise to this challenge. We need to find new ways to connect, to communicate and build relationships and communities, despite our physical separation.

Conceptions of Curriculum

Questions: Why do some conceptions of curriculum continue to be used over time or are considered to be mainstream approaches, while others are not?

Scholar AcademicsSocial Efficiency IdeologyLearner CentredSocial Reconstruction
Believe in teaching the accumulated, important, cultural knowledge from our pastDevelop competencies necessary for functioning members of society
in workplace and home
Learner-centred ideology
Focused on growth of the individual
School is Enjoyable
Unique individual results for each student
Concerned with creating a more just and equitable society
Human experience is primarily shaped by cultural factors
Teachers should be scholars who a have a deep understanding of the subject matter they teachTeachers should aim to create an “educated” person through change by creating and sequencing learning experiences to reach the desired effectsTeachers must provide opportunities for students to reach their capabilities as they make meaning for themselves through interactions with othersTeachers help guide students by exploring social issues, presenting alternate view points and facilitating plans of action
Here is a snapshot of 4 conceptions of curriculum as defined by Schiro (2013)

It can be difficult to define the term “Curriculum” without adding a judgment to the definition, since it can mean different things to different people depending on their philosophy or philosophies of education. Begg (2005) stated that curriculum is “all planning for the classroom.” I thought this is the most concise and non-judgmental definition I have come across. Perhaps the definition is not as important as who decides what should be taught and what material should be taught. According to Brown (2006):

“Defining what should be in curriculum plans for the classroom requires answering two questions: (1) Who should determine what is taught?; and (2) What material should be taught? It would appear that there are a limited number of options available to curriculum developers in answering these questions. Who determines the curriculum can only be one or more of the following: (a) students’ needs or wants; (b) teachers’ knowledge and expertise; or (c) government’s policies in response to society’s problems or issues. The options for determining the substance of curriculum relates to either (a) important content, such as the chemical make-up of water, or (b) important processes, such as knowing how to learn.”

The reasons that some conceptions of curriculum remain over time is that no educator is falls purely into one category. Educators and curriculum developers draw from a variety of orientations at once, thus filling a need and keeping those conceptions in use. Pressure from various stakeholders from parents to politicians, demanding certain skills, traits and mind sets can be very powerful. Social change and unrest cannot be overlooked, especially during times of radical shifts and major world events. It will be interesting to see what happens as a result of the Black Lives Matters Movement and Covid-19. I find myself looking at the world through a new lens, and that is really significant since the onset of this radical change only took place at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. I find myself more critical of media coverage, for example, would this be reported on differently if this person were white? I find myself less connected to friends, family and my students, which is having a major impact on my life, especially since I have been evacuated. Although technology has been a godsend in keeping us all connected, I have realized I interact with others better in person. On-line, there are too many possibilities for not hearing everything that was said and misunderstandings, especially with ESL learners. Since there is not one “right” or agreed upon type of curriculum, we will continue to draw on the strengths of many conceptions to serve those in the best way we know how at any given time.

Explain your interpretation of conceptions of curriculum and how you can use them as tools or frameworks to analyze planning, instruction, and assessment within your specific context of practice.

I definitely draw from a number of conceptions when planning for my classroom activities. I am constantly reflecting on ways I was successful in order to improve and try new things. Teaching a variety of grade levels also has an impact on the way I plan, teach and assess. My start in education was with very young students and I became aware of Joseph Froebel, the “Father of Kindergarten,” of Vygotsky and his Zone of Proximal Development, and of Pestalozzi and his idea of “Life itself educates.” This has greatly impacted me and I am more concerned with fostering learning in the individual child at a level where they can thrive. I try to incorporate nature when possible and allow students to experience real world situations when relevant. During the readings, I was thinking about the different Program of Studies I have worked with, and the variety of stakeholders and who ultimately decides what should be included and when and how curriculum gets changed. I once read a quote that “Moving a graveyard is easier than changing a school” (Woodrow Wilson). I also read a related quote that no one cares about a graveyard, until you try to move it. These quotes highlight the difficulty in changing and implementing new curriculum. People are adverse to change, and some educators worry that new, may mean more. As our society changes, we owe it to our students to find ways to teach in order to maximize learning opportunities.

Great Learning Resources for Teaching Outside - The Green Parent

Al Mousa, N. (2013). An examination of CAD use in Two Interior Design Programs from the Perspectives of Curriculum and Instructors, pp. 21-37.

Brown, G. (2006). Conceptions of curriculum: a framework for understanding New Zealand’s curriculum framework and teachers’ opinions. 2, 164-181.

Eisner, E., & Vallance, E. (Eds.). (1974). Five conceptions of the curriculum: Their roots and implications for curriculum planning. Conflicting conceptions of curriculum (pp. 1-18). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan Publishing.

McNeil, J. D. (2009). Contemporary curriculum in thought and action (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley. Pages 1, 3-14, 27-39, 52-60, 71-74.

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Read part of Chapter 1, pp. 1-8.

Schiro, M. S. (2013).  Introduction to the curriculum ideologies.  In M. S. Schiro, Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns (2nd ed., pp. 1-13). Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Sowell, E. (2005). Curriculum: An integrative introduction. Pearson, Upper Saddle River, NJ. 3. 37-51.

Leah Nette

About Me- Leah Nette

Positivity

5 Positives to come out of COVID-19 Entry 10 November 1st As 2020 winds down, we should all reflect on the people we lost, the loved ones we cannot visit, and the events we had to cancel. It is okay to feel sad about these things, but as we look to the future, it’s important… Continue reading Positivity

All the Things we have Lost

The purpose of schools is often under debate. Should young people become educated in order to enter the workforce and contribute to society or is it more about gaining a foundation that is focused on social, cultural and intellectual development, so students can become engaged citizens? Can’t it be both? Can’t we want students to… Continue reading All the Things we have Lost