Covid-19, you dick! How to thrive in our new normal.
Wow, I don’t know about you guys, but I certainly had high hopes for 2020. We had moved to New Zealand’s capital and among some of the most hotly contested rental market, we somehow managed to view, meet the landlords and sign the paperwork (all within a 24hr period) to secure ourselves a great apartment overlooking the water. I had a new job and we took the place on a leap of faith that everything would come together. Enter Covid-19, stage left and exit – life as we know it!
We certainly are lucky to be living in a country where the PM is decisive, clear with communication and not afraid to make the hard decisions. This means we have started week 2 of complete lockdown. What does that mean for me? Well, like all of you – who the hell knows, time will tell as I’m sure it will be a series of course corrections before we find our new path. What I believe is that this event will change how we do things from here on. Barriers to online education are taken down and removing the traditional methods of teaching is forcing us, full steam, into the digital world – ready or not!
Here is what I have learned so far:
- Those who were already embracing technology in their classroom, to support their student’s learning, have been less thrown by the ‘new normal’. Teachers who are already using platforms like Google Sites to use as an anywhere-anytime opportunity to learn, certainly makes the transition easier. Here is an example of how my last school is handling things (Yr 7 & 8 collaborative classroom – special thanks to Kristie Morrison & Megan Happl for the access). Compare that with their previous year’s website and you will see that it has some good bones that they have added to. Using a website as a platform to access (even if you are not at school) the learning, expands your capacity not only as a teacher, but increases the chances that you will reach your learners.
- It’s easy to be paralysed with so many options for online platforms. Don’t sweat it, you’re not expected to have all the answers here and to be perfect – choose 1 and just start. Just like the government’s response to this virus, if you need to change your strategy because it is not suiting your needs, then do it. Here’s a link where you can have a look at your pace. It’s always interesting to see how others are navigating the same challenges.
- With work actually becoming physically part of our home life, those who struggled balancing it before, are more susceptible to the new pressures. Don’t sweat the small stuff – it’s about setting routines and making sure you cut yourself some slack. Just like your learners, you will have some frustrating times but trust me when I say – take the time to look at how far you have come during this quick transition and it may surprise you when you feel that you may in fact be nailing this online learning thing! Make sure you set aside time to exercise because everyone’s mental health needs it. Remember, you’re likely to be in this for the long haul – don’t wear yourself out in the first part of this race.
- Don’t forget that the kids are on this journey with you too. Now is the time to check in with them: how are they finding the learning, how can you tweak things to make it easier to navigate for them, what would they like to see more of, what is getting in their way. By asking them how you can help make their experience here less painful (keeping in mind you’re not a magician!), they will tell you how to be successful and feel like they have a valued voice, which in turn, builds your rapport and relationship, making them more likely to want to learn.
- A good sense of humour goes a long way. When things go wrong, and it will, take it in your stride & try to see the lighter side of things. Some of us are better at this than others, but now is a time when taking yourself too seriously could hold you back from growing your skills and modelling risk-taking with your learning, as this is ideally what we want to see from our students, right?
- You are not alone – not in an alien kind of way, but in an interconnected internet kind of way. If you are experiencing problems, look to the internet. Do a google search for what you are trying to solve, ask your teaching network, Facebook Groups are a great and quick way to get answers, access your teaching colleagues. There’s every chance that you are not the first person who has experienced those challenges and someone will be able to help you out. Sticking your head in the sand at this point will only compound your issues. Don’t underestimate the knowledge that your students have. It’s very possible that they may be able to help you quicker and faster than any of your other channels.
These are by no means an exhaustive list, nor do I purport to be the master of knowledge but I am in a good position to adapt, as I love the possibilities that technology (as a learning vehicle) can offer. If you have any questions or comments about adapting your teaching, feel free to pop a comment here as we are monitoring this website regularly and will get back to you as quick as we can.
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Good luck and stay safe x