Reflecting on a Year of Remote Teaching
News on August 12 2021
From the family dog making an appearance in your calculus class, to helping students complete a chem lab in their home, odds are you’ve never had a teaching experience like this before! The 2020-2021 school year brought challenges many of us never could have imagined. As we plan for the fall, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on the struggles and successes of teaching remotely.
Social-emotional learning is not just important for students, it is a critical practice for teachers and administrators alike! In order to manage your own faculties and best help students with their social-emotional learning, it can be beneficial to explore and process your emotions. A simple initial exercise to start off with is to think of a few words that describe how you felt about the school year. This can be a great way to begin if you’re not sure where to start. Some other strategies that can help you reflect further include: journaling, responding to reflection prompts, meditating or thinking through specific prompts, talking with a colleague or friend, and others.
While going through the process of self-evaluation, the question we want to keep at the forefront of our minds is, “How can I use my experiences to grow both personally and professionally?” Whether you felt positively or negatively about teaching remotely, try to keep an open mind as you assess. Think of all the things that you and your students accomplished this year. What went well, and why do you think success occurred in those situations? What new opportunities emerged? How did your students show up in ways you hadn’t expected? When struggles did arise, how did you overcome them? By thinking about your school year in this way, you can process any emotions, celebrate your successes, and consider how you can build on these experiences to make the next year even better.
Assessing Digital Practices
As a result of having to teach students remotely, many teachers needed to explore unique solutions for accomplishing common classroom tasks. In addition to the more general school-year related thought prompts above, you may want to evaluate the digital practices you had to adopt. Which practices do you plan to keep or abandon if you will be going back to school in a physical classroom?
One major change that many educators had to make was using video conferencing platforms to meet with students, colleagues, and parents. If you are not in a remote or hybrid setting for this new school year, is there a place or purpose for the use of these technologies? Would you use them to meet with parents who are unable to get to school in the middle of the day, or to hold office hours for students who can’t come early or stick around?
Consider the method you used to distribute work to your students. This may have been via an LMS, email, class website, other web platforms, etc. Did you like using this method? If so, how could you continue to use it in the classroom? If not, are there other alternatives you would want to explore?
Another practice you may want to take a look at is how you assessed students on their understanding. What worked and what didn’t? Would you want to still use these methods to evaluate students in any capacity? Next, examine any websites and digital tools you used to engage students in learning such as Kami, Screencastify, Flipgrid, Jamboard, Pear Deck, and Google or Microsoft apps. For example, did you do digital gallery walks with Jamboard and found that your students didn’t participate as you hoped? Or, did your students love using the versatile annotation tools in Kami? Were there any tools you wanted to use, but weren’t able to? If you think about websites and digital tools in this light, you can develop a plan for purposeful integration, should you choose to use them at all. This way, you have an idea of how and when you plan to introduce these tools.
These are just some of the questions you might want to ask yourself as you reflect on your remote teaching experience and prepare for the 2021-2022 school year. This is by no means an exhaustive list of topics or questions to consider, however, use them as a jumping off point for your evaluation. Whatever you do, remember that your future set of students thanks you! From all of us here at Teq, have a great rest of the summer and a wonderful 2021-2022 school year!
For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.
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