6 things Covid-19 taught me about teaching

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on us as educators. We had to rapidly adapt to a new teaching style and move to online distance teaching. As we return to the physical classroom, we must not forget all of the lessons that we have learnt from lockdown. Here are my top 6, although there are many more.
  1. Technology cannot replace teachers. As many wonderful educational apps there are, online learning is not the same as learning in the classroom. Collaboration was just not the same (yes I know there are 'apps for that'), but the conversations had over video chat are nothing on those we could have face to face. It was far harder to respond to my students needs in the moment and everything took so much longer than it would in the classroom.

  2.  Self-regulation is vital. This experience really illustrated how important 'managing self' is as a key competency. The students who were able to set goals and routines for themselves were far more successful at learning from a distance. However, this skillset is also beneficial in the classroom and the 'real world'. To support our learners to continue to develop this skill, we have introduced genius hour into our timetable. This is a block a week where students conduct their own inquiry into a topic of their choice.

  3. Feedback really is powerful (thanks Hattie). As I couldn't give feedback in the same way I would in the classroom, I had to give written feedback on my students blogs/ completed activities instead. This supported my students to see their next steps and it encouraged them to keep learning. I think this additional point of contact was really important given the circumstances we were in (lockdown) and it was important to keep motivating my learners.

  4. Respond to the needs of your learners. During lockdown I set a task each day and provided feedback to each of my learners as they completed it. If I saw that they were struggling or all found the task to easy, I would quickly change or adapt the task for the following day to better suit their needs. I think I could be far better at responding to my students and adapting content in this way post lockdown.

  5. Learning experiences trump learning activities. I know that it is impossible for every lesson to contain some adventure or crazy hands on activity, but so much learning comes out from them. As I tried to find activities that my students could participate in at home, I started to dream of all the experiences I could facilitate in the classroom as well. I know that my students remember the experiences far clearer than they remember the slides or activities that accompanied them, so I'm trying to think of more ways to include these in my practice.

  6. It's easier to make regular contact with whanau than you think. At the start of the lockdown we had to make contact with every family. It was a little challenging (trying to get the correct number for everyone) and a little time consuming to start with (32 phone conversations). However, from then on it was super easy to communicate over text or email. It makes me realise how easy it would be to send an introductory text at the beginning of the year, or an email when a child does something well. This wouldn't take long at all, but would be strengthening the home partnership which we know supports our learners to succeed at school.

Comments

  1. Talofa Mrs Stone! Thanks for sharing what you have here Danni. I agree with each of your 6 points - very important ones too! Yes let's not put to rest all that we've learned from our time in lockdown and delivering 100% online. What a journey it's been. Blessed that you were in it every step of the way alongside me and our awesome team and school!

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  2. Kia ora Danni. I really enjoyed this reflection. It was really noticeable for me which students could self regulate effectively during distance learning and it made me realise what a barrier it is for those who can't. I was also really impressed with the threads of conversation that came out of teachers commenting on student blogs. I hope this momentum continues now that we're back at school. I'd love to hear any specific examples you have of how the distance learning experience has changed your practice in the classroom. Keep up the great work!

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  3. Thanks for sharing Danni... good to see your No. 6 "It's easier to make regular contact with whanau than you think" ...Definitely worthwhile investing time identifying how best to connect with whānau by harnessing technology, at the start of the year. So many options that can be easily set up and shared both online and print so their are options as well as being simple to update.

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