Well, almost two weeks of distance learning and I feel like that I have done ten! I’m not sure about other teachers, but my daily routine is get up, go downstairs, sit at my desk from 8am to 6pm looking at a screen, then the collapse in a heap!
I’m lucky in that my school is an Apple Distinguished School and has a 1:1 iPad program for staff and students. This has meant that most of our community is up to speed and has been setting and collecting work from all the students working from home.
Even though these are unprecedented times, I am thankful for at least having some foundations in place and more than anything for having an established way of keeping in touch with our school community.
As the e-learning co-ordinator at Tomlinscote School, it is my job to support staff integrate technology into their planning and teaching when they need it. In a new reality of remote learning, I have been supporting using email, WhatsApp, text, phone, Zoom, Teams and Google Meet - often all on the same day! It is exhausting trying to keep up.
I have created a Google Classroom called the TLC (Tomlinscote Learning Centre) where I post quick self-guided help videos for staff. The aim is to try and give them tips to make their online lessons more engaging. Despite being predominantly Google, we have started to use Teams to help faculties and groups keep in touch on a more personal level. I have a weekly meeting with my Digital Champions on a Friday to check in and see how we can help going forward. As these staff are the main contact for many other staff, keeping a consistent message and being aware of what the main problems have been is key.
Adapting my own practice
I am a music teacher and we use eBooks built in iBooks Author as the core resource. These are multi-modal and scaffold learning really effectively. However, I have been surprised during this period of remote learning by how much students still expect me to support them. Perhaps it is the anxiety of the situation, but it is something I haven’t been so aware of in a face-to-face environment. So as a way of mitigating this, I have started my own YouTube channel - Morren’s Music. The aim of this is to be able to share and explain to my students the task for the day. I have made sure that the information I send out presents the work in an easy enough format and which answers anticipated questions and will require minimal help. That is not to say I won’t offer it - I’m trying to avoid saying the same thing over and over - something that is definitely easier to do face to face! I’ve managed to complete this resource for Year 7 and I will spend the next couple of weeks producing material for the rest of my KS3 classes. I’m finding that many students want to check in and if we can find a secure way of doing this as a group, then that might help with the current situation of keeping in touch by answering emails or using PM’s on Google Classroom.
I think that over the Easter break I am going to take time to consolidate and evaluate what I currently do and how I can make it better for me and the students I teach. I have some ideas of what this might look like but need to do some ‘playing’ to make these ideas become a reality.
I’ll post once I’ve refined and tested this! In the meantime, if you need any help or advice for your school, as an Apple Professional Learning Specialist, we can offer 1:1 consultations remotely for free. Please get in touch HERE. The dogs may join us - they’ve been a great help on all my calls this week!