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My Problem is Your Problem too, Hopefully
On this episode I have identified 4 issues(my problems) I am having in my classroom right now(Classroom Management). I will share with you my plan for managing and hopefully improving my classroom with some researched and solid solutions.
How did we get here?
We have reached the midpoint of the year. It has been truly exhausting. Teachers are battling the ins and outs of learning modes in this pandemic world and the continuing addition of new students. We’ve implemented new procedures to keep us healthy and strained our eyes on the countless hours of screen time.
What cannot be lost is the routine that I practice every January. I take some time to receive feedback from my colleagues and my students. I more intentionally reflect on the shortcomings of my practice and how it is affecting the students I have right now.
High Expectations Regardless of Circumstances
This year is special, I am trying to divide the Covid problems and the normal challenges I would face in a typical year. I believe this is absolutely important. Many months ago I heard someone suggest we drop the language that suggests our kids just can’t and won’t do as well this year because of the pandemic. I’m guilty of this montra more than once and that is far too many. We must continue to have high expectations no matter the extrinsic circumstances.
I know I’ve seen what I call covid learning apathy in my own class. Some students “checked out” during the pandemic in the spring and may have struggled to check back in. What I mean is that students developed bad habits during emergency virtual learning(out of our control) and have continued those habits. As we all know, unfortunately, depending on what grade you are in, some students might have been barely hanging on to start with. And in reality they may have plenty of justified reasons, but nonetheless.
I believe the problems I am struggling with are certainly manifesting because of the pandemic world. Students in my world are in-person, cohorted and near similar people all day as they have for 90 days. This has exacerbated the issues I might see to be minor in most years.
Problem 1: Student work completion
Problem: Students not turning in needed practice and/or untimely completion(late)
Build the capacity to stay organized by binder/folder use and utilization of the assignment notebook. I have dedicated much of my time to online solutions. (Despite the common LMS, they do not look or are just overwhelmed with the many platforms.)
Fill out the assignment notebook together. Duh right? Binder/folder organization on Friday’s
Problem 2: Off-Task Behavior during independent time
Problem: The students are not on-task when it is independent time to work.
Praise the desired behavior.
More immediate feedback(return of task or check-ins) to create urgency. if they know they’ll see results with immediacy it creates value and motivation to get it done
Post-it note to do list - visual incentive. Eyes on the computer (literally).
Exemplar - Motivation to achieve desired result.
Problem 3: Blurting
Problem: Students are not participating properly in class discussion. Frequently the blurting is not on-task, but can be just lacking timing of proper participation.
Solutions: Cultural Sensitivity (prespecified normal)
Explain why it is wrong,
Interview with a Virtual School Principal
This week we are joined by Brandon. He is Principal and Teaching and Learning Specialist extraordinaire. We hear from Brandon who is full of tips for managing the madness of the virtual classroom now and whenever.
English Learners during the Pandemic
Today we take a long overdue visit with Jayna who is a long time and exceptional English Learners teacher. She hails from the twin cities and has taught students of 39 different languages and cultural background. She has taught in immersion programs in many countries as well. She joins us to discuss what we could do for our EL students now in the pandemic but also every day in any year.
Equity Issues Across the Board
Luke and I have discussed this before, but the pandemic has exacerbated the shortcomings of education. Its not our fault, but its true. The pandemic has highlighted a few things. The first hurdle is the communication piece with families especially those who do not have an English speaking adult at home. Scrambling to translate the district website is a good start. However the student loses the practice with the academic language since the practice can not be daily in the classroom.
The families of English learners can often be new to our education system and certainly new (like all of us) to the virtual world we might be teaching in. We are more easily able to address the needs of those with more common language through something like a language line. However it has not been possible to push in to these households during this time to help them with the tech like setting up a hot spot or navigating tools. Now we are in person and are pushing to teach the students about setting up these tools so we are prepared if we go back to virtual.
What needs to stick?
After the pandemic we cannot just abandon some of these things we've seen. Teachers have had an opportunity to present the curriculum at their level and pace. With EL students there can be pressure in front of peers. In the virtual world they could pause and reflect and then respond. Flipgrid is an example of a way this have been expanded. Learning became more visual which is a common connection among other languages. Things like subtitles in YouTube can be super helpful. Kids can even turn on the translating feature in a GoogleMeet. Seesaw offers some really impressive assistance. The family app automatically translates messages from teacher into native languages.
What is good for some students is good for all students.Episode 40
Use Their Native Language
They are literate in their native language and sometimes this is forgotten. Provide them with background books to front load content. RazzKids offers some great options. Subtitles could be used in their language too.
Provide Audio Direction
Audio directions became the norm in virtual learning. This needs to stay. This allows the learners to review what was said on their own time and pace. Some different software can translate the audio. Screencasts can be great for parents to provide that same opportunity.
Another app that has been incredible is TalkingPoints. It does not have to be downloaded by the family. It will send a text message in the language that you have selected. They can reply from their cell phone in their native language and it will translate for the teacher.
New Kid New Experience
Create a warm and welcoming environment. Learn their name and learn it correctly. If possible ask a parent to record their name so it can be practiced. Learn some background about their country or culture to connect with them. So important is to consider their cultural norms. Invite the EL teacher in to prep the class. Give the student the curriculum at their language level.
Focus on the "Can Do" and Not the Can't Do
English Learners come with many can't dos because of...
Preparing for the Unknown
Here we sit usually setting up our classroom for the coming year. If you are like us, you might be in limbo with what is to come this year. Today's episode seeks to discuss things we can do NOW even though we are approaching the unkNOWn.
Assessing the Situation
On this episode we address how to grade within the inequity of virtual learning and how to set yourself up to be fair. We stumble upon the solution. It is not about the grade(letter, percentage or otherwise) its about the feedback. All students (essentially) are in this same boat. There will forever be an asterisk on this 4th term grade. Can you get evidence? If not, how can you assign a grade based on the body of work the students have already produced. In the end feedback is king.
Student Send Off
We are devastated that we do not get to bring closure and celebrate success with our student in our physical classroom. With things so up in the air, we do not know if we will have this chance for months to come. Obviously there are some significant milestones like promotions and graduations, but we are talking about the little things too. Join us in the episode as we brainstorm on how to replicate this farewell in the virtual world.