Well, we are officially one month into the school year and to say that it’s been a crazy roller coaster ride is putting it mildly. It seems like every time I turn on my computer, or get an email from admin, something is changing or they are apologizing for not knowing the answer. I know many of you are in the same boat. BUT, I’m still very optimistic that if we can figure out our Tech and scheduling issues and get the right people in the right places, in order to create something new and different in education.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that online teaching and learning is not for every student, but I already have some students so excited that they don’t have to go to school (building). They have reported feeling less anxiety, more excited about learning and more willing to participate. This is what it really means to reach students where they are!
Technology is not always my friend
I wasn’t naïve enough to think there wouldn’t be technology issues with an online school, but I was not prepared for the technology issues we have faced in the few short weeks of school.
The issues started well before school began when staff began reaching out to families and discovered that school Chromebooks were not connecting to our learning platform – students could log in to the computer but not the program – the teachers and district scrambled to find a solution.
Then 3 days before school was to begin, the learning platform crashed across the nation – the district and teachers scrambled to find a workaround.
If that wasn’t enough, just 35 minutes before our first class was to begin the “powers that be” decided to change how students logged in to their computers – again the teachers scrambled to inform students!
And the problems continued from there between students not being able to access Zoom, our learning platform working for some students but not others, students not being able to access their district email, issues with our district online library…it seemed like every time we needed access to technology, only about half the students were able to do it due to issues outside of our control.
Changes, changes and yes, even more schedule changes
Can we talk schedule changes for a moment? Deep heavy sigh, this has definitely been the biggest issue (besides tech). My class sizes started out between 36 – 44 per class. We were able to hire another teacher, which sounds great, but has created a whole avalanche of scheduling nightmares. Our Learning platform and our grading system for some reason are not communicating and we have students in the wrong classes, students in multiple classes at the same tiem and I’m helpless to help them because after weeks of school, I still don’t have accurate rosters.
Two administrators are not enough
I mentioned in a previous post that we had an influx of students the last weekend of registration. The district was expecting around 2,000 students to enroll and we are currently somewhere around 7,500 students. The two administrators they hired are nice enough people, but just don’t have the secondary experience needed to understand the needs of middle school and high school. In a smaller setting they probably would have done fine, but I’m so grateful that the district realized we needed some secondary administration help. As of this week a new middle school administrator has been hired – stay tuned next month to see how that hopefully helps us all!
Hello…is there anyone out there?
Right now, it definitely feels like I’m on an island by myself. I’ve been in education for over 20 years and have systems in place for planning, correcting, teaching, communicating with families and now that’s gone. When I get a question from a student or parent, I don’t even know where to go for help – we have no clear path of communication.
It’s lonely and it’s easy to fall into the negative what’s happening around me, but I am determined to stay positive. Don’t get me wrong, I had a moment this week where I was super frustrated because some of my kids could turn in an assignment and some of them could not (a tech issue). I didn’t even know where to begin to help them – there is no one at my school who really knew either. We are all learning the platform together, so I spent all of my prep and part of my evening researching and watching videos to find a solution. I presented a solution in class today, but it doesn’t work for everyone, so back to researching.
The dream has not died!
Even with all this turmoil, I haven’t given up on the dream -the opportunity to reimagine school. I’m still excited about the possibilities of online learning and reaching students we were not able to in the traditional educational setting. I want to stay optimistic that we (and the district) are going to figure out the technology and scheduling issues.
As I tell my students every day, just do the best you can! That is all we can really do right now with so much out of our control.
Thanks for following the journey!