Welcome to another first Friday Bonus – tales of my online teaching journey. If you recall from last month I accepted a job in my current district teaching in their new online program – a way to reimagine what school looks like. Since my district doesn’t start back until the middle of September there is not much to report this month. Here’s a quick update on what has occurred since my last check-in.
Cleaning out my classroom
The daunting job of cleaning out my classroom began in Mid-August. That came with your usual set of emotions, some good some sad, but filled with excitement about the possibilities of my new job.
My classroom was pretty organized already and since I didn’t have to take everything down at the end of last year, it was pretty easy to just go into my classroom and pull the things out of the cupboards, cabinets, teacher desk and walls to bring home. The most challenging part was finding enough boxes, crates and tote bags to pack all my things. Normally I would pick up boxes at the grocery store or save printer paper boxes at school over a few weeks to use, but as we know, this is not a normal year. Instead, I gathered every tote bag I had in my house and a few boxes I hadn’t yet put in the recycle bin and headed off to school. I was able to finish quickly and it only took a couple of very packed car loads to finish.
Information – what’s that?
This week was the first official week back to school for teacher in-service. At the end of the first week, there are many more questions than answers. I still don’t have a schedule or a list of classes I’m teaching, so beyond the first few get to know you type lessons, I have nothing planned. What I know about my schedule has changed each day this week so I’m just being patient and waiting – easier said than done!
With each meeting there only comes more questions and very few answers. I don’t think it is because they are keeping information from staff, it is just several things they have not thought through yet and/or the district hasn’t provided the information to our administrators yet. It’s to be expected, but still frustrating.
It is sad that six months into this pandemic we are still in a situation of uncertainty. As a result, our new program’s registration soared with more than 2,000 new students registering in the last weekend before registration closed. This put our brand-new program to over 7,500 students – more than 3x’s the expected number when we began this journey.
Unfortunately, due to a surge in registration for our online program, many teachers in the district were unexpectedly transferred to the new online program – some not finding out until Monday of this week. I understand their frustration, but it causes me concern about the original program I signed up to be part of. With so many teachers not wanting to be here and parents that enrolled in the program, not because they wanted online education but because they are scared of sending their kids into the school building, will we really have the opportunity to build a strong program, really get the opportunity to reimagine school, to be innovative without classes? . I certainly hope so, I hope that our online program can survive this year and that those that truly want to reinvent school will have the opportunity to do so.
Will it work?
I sure hope so! I’m going to remain open minded, do my best to have a go-with-the-flow attitude as I know from past experiences of being part of starting a school, that there are always bumps and hiccups especially in the beginning.
I believe that if we do this right, online education can be a way to reach some students that we haven’t been able to in a traditional setting. An online education can be tailored to really target the learning needs of the individual students in a way we haven’t been able to do in the classroom.
I’m not saying that online education is right for everyone, but I do believe that there is a population of students that this is right for. Online learning works for their learning style and works for their family situations.
In the Spring we saw many students succeed with online learning (although you didn’t hear about them in the media and it was unpopular to say on social media) and for students and families this works for, they deserve to have a public-school option.
As we head into Fall, I hope your school year gets started on a positive note!