Teaching Online: It Just Got Real

Screenshot_20200330-021809RenewED Teachers are always looking to see what is new, and how they can enhance their skills in the classroom! However, COVID-19 has most of the teachers in our country (perhaps the world) outside of their classroom these days. Because of that, many of us are moving towards some version of Remote/Distance Teaching and Learning, E-Learning, and/or Digital Instruction.

While many teachers have dabbled in flipped instruction, not all classroom educators, especially K-12 teachers, have experienced teaching 100% from the comfort of their home. According to www.teachthought.com, a flipped classroom is a type of blended learning where students are introduced to content at home and practice working through it at school. In addition to this, face-to-face instruction is mixed with online (internet/web-based) instruction. I started dabbling with this in 2011 with Edmodo.com, Remind.com, and  today with ClassDojo.

BUT IT JUST GOT REAL!

There is no blended learning right now. It is all online in the event that our Governor extends the Stay-at-Home Order beyond Tuesday, April 14th. (Update: President Trump extended social distancing through the end of April).

Now many educators have already began their digital journey and appear to be killing it! Many have been using Zoom and Google Meets. I am familiar with both, but when my district sent a survey asking how familiar I was with Microsoft Teams, I had to type in a one on that scale. That’s when my search began. And like these other educators killing it on Zoom and Meets, we are going to kill it on Teams!

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a web-based program that has capabilities for “students, teachers, and staff [to] seamlessly work together, create content, and share resources all from a single, easy-to-learn and simple to use platform” (microsoft.com). Microsoft Teams allows teachers to create classrooms, keep students remotely engaged, facilitate remote learning, collaborate, communicate, and personalize online instruction.

Teaching and learning online is our inevitable future. I have come to accept that this will be our new normal for the next few weeks. With that, I have continued to do research. I have also texted links to my colleagues and posted helpful sites on my Facebook page and groups I am a member of. The resources are plentiful.

Although I do not feel overwhelmed at the time, I am sure that other educators are, and this blog is here to help teachers focus on self-care. Part of healthy self-care is being pro-active and being prepared for what is here or may come. To help us all prepare for this digital instruction we are about to participate in, I am sharing the 10 resources I have come across throughout my research. It is my hope that this post will be an easy access point, a hub of sorts where teachers can visit and get tips on how to use Microsoft Teams.Screenshot_20200330-014232

P.S. If you haven’t already done so, download the Microsoft Team app to your phone or tablet.

10 Helpful Microsoft Teams Resources for Educators 

Videos/Demo

1.Microsoft Teams Interactive Demo

MicrosoftTeams_Demo_SS

Demo Screenshot

2. How to use Microsoft Teams for Remote and Online Learning

 

3. Explore How Microsoft Teams Can Be Used in the Educational Space

 

4. Online Lessons using Microsoft Teams for Remote Learning

5. Top Ten Tips when Teaching with Teams

Articles/Websites/Blog Posts

6. The Microsoft Team wrote this article titled, “How Schools can ramp up Remote Learning Programs Quickly with Microsoft Teams.”

7. Jenifer Gonzales, the author of The Cult of Pedagogy, discusses her experience using Microsoft Teams.

8. From Tony is Here, Tony Phillips provides a “Teacher Guide to Presenting Remote Remote Lessons using Microsoft Teams.”

9. Dr. Monica Burns from Class Tech Tips discusses collaboration and feedback.

10. Because I foresee teaching changing due to the impact Covid-19 has had on the world, I believe this article by Steve Forbes titled “How to Improve Productivity Using Microsoft Teams” will be beneficial to us in the future.

By doing a basic Google search or going to YouTube, you will find a plethora of resources on Google Teams. This is just a starting point. I hope you enjoy these resources, and I hope they are helpful.

Have you used Microsoft Teams before? How have you found equitable ways to include ALL of your scholars? Share tips and additional resources in the comments section.

Until next time, Happy teaching and learning!

Krystal L. Smith

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye…Deuces to Another School Year!

Hello my fellow educators! Happy first day of https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/3NHfaIO3ELy1nm9tpMwzp9” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>summer!

Do you remember this song? I’m sure you do!

BoyzIIMenHWoFJan2012

Image by Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0

My last day with students was Wednesday, June 7th. My official last day was Monday, June 12th.

Its So Hard to Say GoodbyeBelieve it or not, the last day of school is a bitter sweet day for us teachers. Many of us finally get to do all of the things we had to give up during the school year such as working out, spending ample quality time with our families, watching our favorite prime time shows, reading, vacationing, doing absolutely nothing…ya’ll know what I’m talking about. 😉

But why is the last day or end of the school year so hard to say goodbye to? Why is it bitter sweet? Different teachers have different reasons. Consider the two following experiences teachers can have.

 

 

Did you have a particularly rough year with a group of students who’s behavior seemed

bitter_Sweet

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

beyond your control, a lack of support from administrators, colleagues, and your students’ families? If so, I’m sure you couldn’t wait to see many of your students leave! Maybe there were a select few students that you cherished throughout the school year, but overall you dreaded waking up and walking into your building each day. You probably even counted down until the last minute! You may have shed a tear or two out of shear joy because the students were leaving, aaaannnd maybe for the few that touched your heart. If you were in this situation this year, I get it. All you may want to so is sit back, relax, and forget all about the previous school year. These years are the years that make some teachers leave the profession. If you are reading this, and considering leaving the field, I urge you to think hard about that decision and refocus by remembering your why. This profession needs good, dedicated teachers like you.

On the other hand, maybe you had the most uplifting school year ever! Maybe your administrators, colleagues, and families were a gift sent from heaven!  Whatever you needed, you received it. If this is your experience, you may not want to see your former students go out of a fear that next year may not be the same. (Unless you teach in a school where students loop). Your students may have caused you some grief and had a few rough days here and there (especially at the end of the year), but overall, they respected you as the teacher, families were available, behaviors were not too out of control, and if they were, they were dealt with effectively and fairly. You may have even succumbed to tears before the students exited the building too, but only because you will truly miss them.  Although it seems you may have had a rather easy school year (I know that is never true), you deserve the much needed R&R the summer offers as well. This may be a year, where you may also consider leaving the classroom, because you want to impact children, teachers, and the field of education on a broader scale. In a sense, you may also be looking for a fresh start.

Most of us probably fall somewhere in between these two extremes. You may have had extreme life changing events happen this year.  Maybe you married the love of your life; had your first, second, or third child; adopted; became a caretaker for a parent. Maybe you had a rather difficult personal and/or family situation to withstand this year. Maybe you lost a parent or another close relative; someone near and dear to you was diagnosed with a terminal illness; a significant other lost their job; a near fatal accident; miscarriages and/or infertility. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do know teachers who have experienced one or more of these expected and unexpected events within this past school year. I’m sure you can name one in your circle of teachers as well. I personally had to deal with losing my grandmother back in March. She was the glue that held my family together. I love you, Ganny!

Regardless of how your school year may have fared, leaving the school year behind is almost often tinged with sadness with some gladness.

I will truly miss all of my lovelies. There were days when they annoyed me to no end, but then there were times when they made me truly love coming to work. I personally did not cry the last day of school, but the day before, I was a water head, as my dad used to say.

As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, remember that self-care is an important part of summer vacation, which makes this time of year so important and necessary for us. However, let’s make it a goal to take it a step further next year, and practice self-care throughout the year as best as we can. You can read my post on how to prevent and reduce back to school stress here. This will make us less likely to get burnt out, and less likely to count down the days until summer vacation next year.

But right now, I want each of you to enjoy your summer to the max! Go to the beach, workout, sleep in (or not), go on a road trip, have a day in and binge on Netflix or Amazon Prime, spend unlimited amounts of time with your significant other, children, parents, and/or friends and other family members. Do whatever it is your heart desires to take care of yourself!

I also challenge you to reflect on what parts of the year were good and not so good based on what you had control over in your own classroom.  Take time to learn new things, read old and new books, attend conferences, take summer courses, watch podcasts, follow this blog or any blog that is there to motivate, encourage, and inspire teachers, and do whatever it takes to further develop and enhance your teaching craft.

Remember, it’ll only be about 6-8 weeks before it’s so hard to say goodbye to summer! Oooooooooooooo!!!

end-139849_1920 (1)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

If you like, love, or enjoyed what you have read follow the blog and follow me on PinterestLinkedIn, and Facebook

Until then, Happy Teaching! and Deuces!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

P.S. Here is an amazing interview on teacher self care, with two teachers I follow and admire, Jennifer Gonzalez and Angela Watson. Both are educators, bloggers, and Nationally Board Certified Teachers. Check it out by clicking here here.