One of the things I have been doing in the back half of July has been gearing up for the return to the classroom. At the time, it was clear we were trying to open the building, but also knowing a portion of the teaching would remain virtual.
I needed to sharpen those digital skills and pick up new tips and techniques. What I didn’t fully anticipate was the overwhelming variety of options available. On the one hand, it has been terrific to see all the tools available, but also overwhelming to see try and figure out which will make me the most effective both in class and online.
I’m thrilled at the number of online, free professional development sessions there have been. I’ve tried to fit several of these in, even if it’s just to get a tip as opposed to mastering something new. Additionally, there are tons of paid classes as well. Here, I paid Shake Up Learning to get more comfortable with Google Classroom and Google Slides (which seems to be far more versatile than imagined).
Teach with Tech ran the last week of July. Here, I paid $20 and got access to not only a vibrant, helpful Facebook page but also 74 30-minute sessions. Of course, they aren’t all for me, but I’ve done over 20 of them which certainly got me my money’s worth.
And every morning, I scour an English Teachers’-only Facebook group which has been welcoming, fun, and a steady supply of ideas and files. I’ve tried to contribute as best I can but I have certainly gotten more out of this and certainly, my classes will be the better for it this year.
The last part was a week-long Distance Learning Pop-Up Course of Educators, offering by the Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools (AIMS). This has been the most time-intensive with two-hour synchronous sessions and two-hours of other work each day. It’s far more immersive and should put a polish for my preparation. It was fun talking to other educators in Maryland, sharing ideas, and putting icebreakers and other tech into practice so I can see how it all works.
In between, I have been starting to build lessons for the first few weeks of class, waiting for final instructions as to how we’re conducting classes. Now, I can go back and finalize these, giving me some breathing room as I face the most unusual opening day at the beginning of September.