Virtual school has realigned teaching teams in many ways. We had a good sense of place and what to do in the school community, and now that's been challenged. How do we transfer or revise our roles and efforts for virtual school, and how will that impact our teaching/learning in the days ahead?
Bring your value
The first priority to think about how you might bring your value to the new virtual school equation. Most of us have a good idea about what that value is within the real time school community, but what does that value look like in virtual school? For me, my value is the individual social-emotional attention I can bring to my homeroom students through virtual class meetings and online exchanges related to questions, encouragement, and information share. For my grade-level math students, my value is to bring those students engaging practice opportunities, meetings that bring us together to talk about and learn math, and personalized response with regard to review and response related to student learning efforts.
Make it count for today and into the future
I want my virtual school efforts to inform my real-time school efforts into the future. So I'm using this opportunity to dig into a number of fifth grade math concepts and think about how I might teach those concepts with greater depth and success in the future. I've created a number of math talk/problem solving opportunities for students that I'll be able to use now and into the future. I'm also trying to learn more about some of our online math programs so that I might use those programs well in the future to support students' math learning and proficiency.
Collaborate with colleagues
Our system administration is using this virtual school effort, in part, as a way to promote and strengthen teamwork. Educators are responding by setting up interdisciplinary and cross-school grade-level meetings to discuss curriculum initiatives and virtual teaching activities, goals, and challenges. Educators are also reaching out to one another to share learning activities, ask questions, and provide supports. I value the administration's focus on collaboration because I know that this COVID-19 event is hitting all of us in different ways and we need each other in order to provide the students with a holistic, positive, and helpful response.
Create a plan; bring some structure
I'm finding that it is critical to create some kind of structure for virtual school because if you don't, home becomes your work place alone or your work place is lost at home. During the next few days, our team will put together a schedule for the next couple of teaching weeks. After that, our efforts will depend on what state leaders decide with regard to reopening schools or continuing remote learning. Time will tell.