My distance learning experience taught me a great deal. I was forced into a situation where I had to be flexible. I had to pivot away from my standard approach to teaching and utilize technology in ways I never did before.
Even though I always incorporated technology at a high level before the pandemic, teaching during the pandemic showed me that there was so much more out there of which I was simply unaware.
From Distance To Hybrid Learning
Finding various ways to instruct my students from afar was my first challenge. As soon as I felt I was becoming adept with fully digital instruction, we went hybrid. I was back in the classroom while simultaneously teaching kids in class and kids at home.
To be honest, that first day back into the building was nerve-racking. I felt lost. I literally had no idea how I could take what I was doing digitally and still meet the needs of my students in the classroom without simply creating a distance learning environment where kids sat in a classroom, rather than at home. That was not a model I was willing to accept because I knew the students in the building deserved better and so did the students learning at home.
Going All-In With New Technology
My saving grace in this hybrid teaching situation was a brand new SMART interactive display, which I saw for the first time when I walked back into my classroom after doing distance learning for so long. Ironically, my initial reaction was not one of excitement. I was in no mood to try and learn how to operate a new potentially complex piece of technology while juggling a hybrid classroom. I had enough on my plate. That first day, I went home and my wife could see the distraught look on my face. I am generally a positive person, so even she was taken aback.
How could I move forward at that point? Go all in.
I decided to learn all I could about the interactive display, which led me to Lumio. Suddenly, it all seemed so simple! With Lumio I was able to build fun and engaging lessons, similar to ones I was already using during distance learning, but with an ability to get kids in the classroom engaged! Students at home and students in the classroom could learn and work simultaneously even while being separated. Students could collaborate in Workspaces while in breakout rooms on Google Meet. I could be giving direct instruction to my students in class and the students at home could follow along on their devices--not by watching me on some grainy video with a camera too far from the teacher, but by following along and seeing the instruction live from the SMART Board in the classroom directly to their devices at home. Mind blown!
Making New Connections With Technology
Moving forward, I plan to be a SMART Ambassador at my school and for my staff, connecting more teachers to the technology I love using in my own teaching practice.
I am spearheading all efforts to get teachers to take full advantage of the SMART Boards in their classrooms. I am training staff on the boards and Lumio as an essential part of their direct instruction and formative assessments, and I am hoping my efforts lead to further technology integration throughout my school.