Using Technology For Online Teaching
Online teaching has changed the way technology is used at school. Online teaching became necessary when the pandemic shut down in-person instruction. A while back I asked teachers about some of the teaching challenges they faced during the pandemic and shared this with you.
I also asked teachers: What is something good that has come out of online teaching for you?
Here are some of responses they gave me about online teaching.
"Lots of new digital skills learned"
"Have learned a little more about technology. Have learned I would not want to work in an office setting"
"Parents are more aware of what we are working on and they are more aware of what technology and resources are available. I have learned more about using digital resources in the classroom."
"We worked lots on class community and helping each other out. (this year since we have been in person)"
How Technology Could Impact Teaching Styles
For many teachers, using technology as a teaching tool was something foreign and they had to learn how to incorporate it into their teaching style. For others, they were very familiar with using digital media and they were very comfortable with it. They actually were happy to add this medium into their teaching.
Whichever camp you were in, you made it work during the online teaching aspect of your teaching as best you could. I am sure there are many teachers that were glad to have their students back in the classroom so they could return to their comfort level again, but I suspect that even those teachers will now be adding in some digital aspects to their teaching day.
Pre-pandemic Use Of Technology
Pre-pandemic, computer labs were part of the weekly routine. Some classes had access to projectors, interactive whiteboards, tablets, or other electronic devices.
Some teachers had limited experience with technology and used it in specific situations. They may have been comfortable with projecting videos on the whiteboard or maybe even projecting documents and other objects from a document camera. For many, most of the devices were part of the reading and math centers.
Other teachers were very comfortable with technology and they may have included interactive lessons on the whiteboard (or Smartboard, if they had access to one). They would have integrated technology into many areas of their instruction. At any point of the day, you would probably have seen technology in action in some form.
Shifting Our Use Of Technology
As we move towards a more "normal" way of teaching, I suspect there will be some changes to how we do our lessons.
For teachers that had limited experience using technology in the classroom, they may now feel more confident and use more technology for different subjects.
For those who were very comfortable with the online teaching, it will be somewhat challenging at times for them as they juggle balancing technology based activities with no tech activities. This may be especially true for teachers that started their careers during the pandemic.
Using technology for teaching will be up to individual teachers, but I don't think it will ever disappear from the classroom scene.
In a previous post, I talked about how kids can help teachers with technology. This might be useful for teachers who are less familiar with technology to check out. Kids are great at using technology and living in a digital world and they might enjoy being the teachers.
For those who are very confident with technology, there is the danger of using it too much. Too much of a good thing can sometimes cause a negative situation. It is important to find a balance between the benefits of using technology in the classroom and having some no-tech times to work on other areas of SEL.
A final thought: You know your students and what works best for them. Use that as your thermometer to decide what is a healthy balance for high tech and no tech instruction. Remember to factor in your comfort level as well. It is up to individual teachers to make those decisions. I am only making some observations and sharing some ideas based on what I am seeing and hearing from some teachers, kids and parents.
It Is Time To Take A Break
Spring Break has arrived for many people. In fact, some districts are returning to school soon. I hope that you have been able to take some time to relax and re-energize. It is so important to take care of yourself. This has been a stressful couple of years and now that we can start doing things again, hopefully you will be able to take time to enjoy spending time with family and friends.
Many of you have finished your report cards and conferences and can now move on to the next term. Others will be preparing for assessments. Use the time off to take a mental break so you will be refreshed and ready to handle the testing and reporting ahead.
If you are getting ready to start new projects or assignments, the temptation is to do some of the work while on vacation. Although this seems like a good idea, in some cases it can have a negative effect because it can interfere with actually relaxing and de-stressing. Our bodies and minds need to take time to relax if we are to remain healthy.
Why It Is Important To Take Care Of Yourself
I had a conversation with someone the other day and she told me that she is in great pain and has anxiety because she didn't take the time needed to let her body and mind heal after a car accident and some other stresses a while back. Now whenever she gets stressed her nervous system goes into overdrive and she is in pain. She had to take a stress leave from work as a result. Her message is: Don't be in too big a hurry to get back to doing everything. Give yourself time to mentally and physically relax and recharge.
The Stress Is Real
Teaching now is harder than it has ever been and it is causing many teachers to rethink staying in the classroom. Now it is more important than ever to look after yourself so you can look after others.
This reminds me of being on an airplane and being told to put on my own oxygen mask before helping put masks on others. Our instincts tell us to help our kids first, but if we don't have an oxygen supply ourselves, we won't be able to help them. The same is true for us as teachers. If we don't have anything less to give, we can't help others.
Literacy And Math Suggestions For Spring
When you are ready to return to class, if you are looking for resources for your students that are spring themed, I have a few that might work for you. They require little preparation and they are fun activities for the kids to do.
Here are some different spring sight word resources that might be helpful for guided reading groups and literacy centers.
For Math, here are a few that will help with number recognition and place value.
As you gear up again, check out this blog post for some great projects to try for social studies. Our Solar System project is a fun one to do for science as well.
Turn Off Your Teacher Brain For Awhile
Don't let this confuse you. I still think you need to take time to relax and turn off your teacher brain to enjoy other moments during the break, but I know that as the day to return comes you will have trouble doing that, so I wanted to give you some resource ideas that will help get you back in the teaching mindset again without too much stress. From there, you can move on to more heavy duty material and instruction.
Remember, the kids have also taken time to shut out school for a couple of weeks and they will need to be eased back into study mode.
How Self Confidence Impacts Our Self Worth
Do you sometimes feel like you are surrounded by people who are better than you? Are you sometimes afraid to participate because you don't think you will be good enough?
It may surprise you to find out that this is a common feeling and most people experience it at one time or another. Many people will try to fake it and attempt to hide it from others, but I suspect if you did an anonymous survey, you would probably have a high percentage of people saying it is true.
Believe in yourself
Sometimes when you are surrounded by others who excel, it is hard to put yourself out there. You feel like you don't measure up and you might get criticized or ridiculed by others. I get it. I have a high achieving, talented family and I often feel like I am the "weakest link". The funny thing is, others feel that way when they are around me because they look at me as being the high achiever and talented one.
What I have learned along the way, is you sometimes need to put yourself out there and try, even when it is hard. Asking for help is difficult for us as adults, but we are always encouraging our students to do so. I guess we should take our own advice and do the same.
A Personal Example
In school, I found writing difficult, particularly poetry. This feeling carried over to my teaching, and I found it difficult at first to embrace teaching poetry. I could do the basics and I could help my students get started, but I found it challenging because sometimes I didn't feel that I could do it well myself. I needed to remind myself that I could do it and focus on this.
When I was in school, we would have to do many different types of writing, including poetry, and sometimes I was successful, but often I felt that I wasn't doing a great job. I got varying reactions from my teachers which made me start to doubt myself. It wasn't until I was in Grade 11 that I felt I could even write well.
That year was a changing point for me because I had a teacher who believed in me and encouraged me to keep writing. My short stories improved and my confidence started to build. Poetry was still a challenge, but I felt that I was able to at least meet the criteria.
I realized that writing is subjective and what some people like, others don't. It wasn't always a case of my writing being "bad", it was a case of my not being able to convey my feelings in a way that connected with some individuals. Once I learned that, I attempted to write more and use more variety and description. I started to get more positive feedback and this helped me to get through the assignments. I continued to keep trying and I started to feel like I could write well.
How it made a difference
Fast forward to my classroom and my students throughout the years of my teaching career. I was able to see this struggle with my kids in different subject areas and I was able to be the teacher that encouraged them. Sometimes it took a while, but in most cases, I was able to see growth and even a love of reading and writing develop in them.
Math was a bigger challenge, but that even began to take on a different effort as kids started to see themselves as capable. Confidence began to flourish and successes became more evident.
I used the following posters as our classroom themes. I believe these sayings and I tried to help my students to take them to heart and believe them too.
How teachers make a difference
As teachers, we have a huge influence on our students, whether we want to admit it or not. It is important to help them to become strong, confident, and valued people that are able to go out into the world and be successful. We don't know what they will choose to do in their lives, but we can give them the tools to strive for their goals.
If we encourage them to continue to keep trying when things get tough, they will learn perseverance and determination. If we acknowledge their progress, they will start to gain confidence and realize that they are capable of more.
If we treat them as valuable, we will help them to see their own self worth. In this time of mental health struggles with young people, this is very important. We need to be our students' cheerleaders and guides.
Teachers need encouragers too
We also need to be encouragers to our friends and colleagues who may be struggling to feel like they are worthy and valued. Especially now with the struggles of teaching during a pandemic. Our confidence has been shaken and we are sometimes beginning to doubt ourselves.
If you are feeling uncertain or wondering if you are doing a good job, I want to assure you that you are not alone. You should be proud of yourself for hanging in there during difficult circumstances. If you are feeling like you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it. There are many people out there who would be happy to help and provide support and encouragement.
I can tell you from experience, that you can get through tough times with support. Who knows, down the road you may be the one providing support to others as they struggle through tough times. It happened to me, so I know if can happen to others.
You've got this. You are valued, appreciated, and worthy. Believe in yourself.
Here are some posters I made that may help remind you and your students that you are valuable and worthy. Click on the image to check them out.
Sign up for my newsletter and get a free sampler of posters.
Taking Learning Outdoors
Spring is just around the corner and along with it comes longer days, sunshine, fresh breezes, and early buds and blooms. What a great time to get outdoors with your students and take learning outside as well.
Ideas For Social Studies And Science Outdoors
There are many different opportunities to cover academics outside and still enjoy the outdoors. Here are a few ideas that may help.
For social studies, neighbourhood walks, checking out the community, following maps, doing geocaching and using coordinates are just a few things that can be done. If you want more information, check out my post about social studies outdoors.
For science, you can do experiments such as coke and mentos to check out chemical reactions, the clink clunk test to investigate gravity, or do things to check out nature. Starting a garden, growing plants in pots and following their growth, taking a walk in the park or the forest, if you live near one, or visiting the seashore if you live near the ocean are just a few ideas. Kids love to interact with nature and they learn many life skills that they can use later on as well.
Reading and Writing Ideas For Outdoors
For reading and writing there are many different options to try.
Reading can be done in the environment by checking out signs, reading books with buddies while enjoying the sunshine, and playing games like Scoot for sight words are just a few ideas.
During the warmer weather, we would often take our books outside for silent reading and find a quiet spot on the hillside at the edge of the playground to do our reading.
One of my favorite activities for writing is to go outside and explore our senses. After making a list of different things for each of the senses, we use these ideas to develop stories. We choose a theme and use the list to create a descriptive story. My descriptive writing templates were developed for this.
Math Ideas For Outdoors
For math, the outdoors is a great place to work on measurement activities. You can do activities that work with larger units such as meters or yards and you can do perimeter and area activities. Kids love using the trundle wheels and measurement tapes to measure the fields, buildings, and other objects.
The information gathered outside can then be used for creating scaled diagrams on graph paper.
Taking Physical Activity And Gym Class Outdoors
Taking gym outside is an easy thing and I suspect is often done already. Many of the different sports can be done outside as well as inside. The fields and nearby parks are great open spaces for running activities, soccer, kickball, and games. Kids love being able to run around and get active without worrying about being too noisy.
At my school, there is a courtyard and blacktop area with basketball hoops, tetherball, foursquare areas, or hopscotch games available. I liked using this for doing rotations of activities. Everyone could be doing activities at the same time instead of some people waiting for their turn.
Try Music Games Outdoors
Even music class can go outdoors. I used to take my primary music classes outside to do circle games that require running and even rhythm games. One of my favorite rhythm games was a version of California kickball. Instead of just pitching the ball, I would clap out rhythms and they would have to say the rhythm correctly in order to get the ball thrown for them.
These are just a few examples of how you can take learning outdoors this spring. It really comes down to your own comfort and creativity. Enjoy the weather and have fun teaching outside.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.