“In almost every way, education drives development resulting in
technological changes that push the educational agenda.” (Ananga, 2020, p. 310)
Remote learning came at us out of nowhere and has had the whole world rethinking education. In March 2020 when it was announced we would be moving to online learning, my heart completely dropped. I cried a lot of tears. I did not believe there would be any positive that could come out of this situation. I worried so much about my students that I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach and would fall so far behind in reading. I happened to be taking EC&I 830 about Educational Technology and Digital Citizenship at the time. Through this course I was learning about many educational tools and finally taking time to explore them. When the pandemic hit, I had already been trying out tools with my students that I would end up using for remote learning. It made it a bit more of a smooth transition. I was very thankful to have been taking this course and received lots of help from my classmates that I could pass on to my colleagues.
During remote learning I used:
In the fall when we came back to in-person learning, it was crucial to have students set up to these online tools right away. Seesaw became a large part of the classroom. Knowing we could be shut down any day and have to move to online created a frantic energy to make sure we were prepared this time. Around Christmas, we moved to online teaching and were able to use Zoom. I was able to see my students each day and assign work through Seesaw. I did not have the best attendance so it was difficult to assess or teach anything new. Fast forward to being shut down for a month in April, I started to loath online teaching. We had a great routine and I was having better attendance but I still found it not ideal for my students. We needed to be together and learn. I found the hardest part trying to manage them and keep them focused with all the distractions around. I constantly had to tell them to “stop unmuting yourself and interrupting”, “stop playing with toys”, “come sit down and focus”, “we already saw your cat in show and share many times”, etc. It was a good experience and I learned a lot but was VERY thankful when they announced for us to come back to in-person. The time during this pandemic I learned about so many tools that I will continue to utilize in my classroom.
Seesaw is a great tool for teaching primary grades. The assignments are easy to create for teachers, teachers can share lessons, and it is easy to assess learning. Students can show their learning in many different ways. When they add a response to an assignment, they can speak, make a video, illustrate, write or take pictures to display their learning. This is also helpful as many students are using a variety of devices that may be old or not sync well to many educational tools. Moving forward, I have found many ways to implement Seesaw into my in-person teaching to create a blended learning experience. When we were in person, I created assignments on Seesaw each week that covered the topics or themes we were learning. This way if any students were sick or had to stay home, they weren’t missing out on the key concepts being taught. I will continue this practice as I found it very effective. Students also were more engaged in reading apps during the weekends after using them for remote/online learning.
Mike, Jacquie, Fahmida, and Josie did a wonderful job describing tools for distance and online learning. They sparked me to reflect on my experience online and what I liked and disliked about it. As stated above, there are useful tools I will bring with me that I learned through teaching online. It is something I can add to my resume but do not think I would chose to do again. I prefer having the energy of the kids in front of me. My classmates started their presentation by asking what we prefer for learning in graduate school. I only took one in-person grad class. I have really enjoyed being able to do my masters from the comfort of my home. Not having to find a parking spot and walk so far to class. (especially in winter) I never thought I would prefer the delivery of online learning for myself as a learner but have grown to prefer it. My professors were able to create a great learning environment that still allowed us to feel connected. I learned so much from classmates and was able to check-in about our pandemic teaching experiences as well. I do not like teaching this way, but liked learning this way. The connection felt in the classroom with students is something I did not feel online. Going back and forth teaching online and in-person really created a gratitude when we were together. Knowing we could be shut down at anytime made us treasure each moment we had in-person together and created a strong classroom connection. This past year teaching was full of ups and downs but I felt like I knew my students better then any other year because everyone got to share their homes while we were online. I was able to see them in the comfort of their own home-something I hadn’t experienced pre-pandemic. There are many pros and cons to my experiences throughout this past year that I can take with me moving forward and ones that I can shed and never look back on. Teaching young children, there is a need for connection and social-emotional learning that is a lot easier to learn in-person.
Thank you for reading,