What will you remember most about the 2020-21 school year? As I write this I have 4 weeks left to my school year. This school year has had several forms for me. At the beginning of the school year we were 100% remote. Half way through the year, some students and staff went back – while others remained remote. All of our students have accomplished and learned a lot this school year, and it is important that we take time to celebrate them. We will remember the 2020-21 school year for years to come.
My class went back to hybrid/in-person teaching for the 4th quarter of this school year. We remained a class, but we were divided into 3 different groups. Two thirds of my class felt comfortable coming back to school 2 days a week for our hybrid pods (We have a Monday/Tuesday pod, and a Thursday/Friday pod. One third of my class did not feel ready to return so they remained remote with us synchronously. Students are remote with me the days they are not in-person and on Wednesdays, everyone is remote. Synchronous teaching was new for me (as it was for so many of us us), but once again I adapted.
So much has changed this school year for all of us. We have all persevered, and whether or not we like all of the changes – many of them will redefine how we educate our students going forward. I thought it would be fun to write about the positive changes I’ve seen this school year, and how I plan to celebrate my students’ successes.
A Year Worth Remembering
This school year has been one of learning. I realize that it has been different, and if has been full of challenges. None of us will forget this school year, so we may as well define how we will remember the 2020-21 school year.
My students, their families, and I have all persevered. I know how much I’ve learned this year. I also know, that in spite of the many challenges my students have learned a lot too.
All year long, I have stressed the importance of school to my students. This is their first grade school year. I keep reminding them, that they are the only generation of students to learn remotely and in hybrid models. They are true champions.
There are many traditional things we were unable to do, but that did not stop us from meeting many of our milestones. One tradition, we were unable to do the normal way, was class picture day. That, however, did not stop us from having a picture day, or a class picture. I took pictures of each student in my class (I had my remote students pose for their screenshots – they were still able to get dressed up). I created these Class Picture Templates just for the occasion. I used the templates to create a beautiful Class photo for my students. They absolutely love it! As do their families. This has been an school year worth remembering, and my students deserved this.
Prior to this school year, I never had a smart board or a Promethean board in my room. Teaching synchronously to students at home, and in the classroom changed all of that. I now use a Promethean board everyday, and my students and I LOVE our Promethean board. Had I not taught remotely for a year, I would never have been as comfortable using this new technology as I am now. I also love the way it allows my students to take their learning into their own hands. They love doing their math centers in small groups working together on the promethean board.
Becoming 1 to 1
I know that most schools were far ahead of mine on this, but we are finally 1 to 1. My students have learned so much about technology over the last school year, I don’t think they’d have it any other way. I work to maintain a balance in my hybrid room, so that students are not on their devices all day. I make sure there is a specific goal that the technology helps my students achieve. That being said, they show me new goals they can achieve using their devices everyday.
Far More Organized
I am far more organized now, and I was pretty organized pre-pandemic. My Google Drive, however, has truly taken on a new form thanks to remote teaching. I have learned so much about Google Classroom, Google Slides, Google Drive, and all things Google! I can honestly say that this has been a year of learning for me. I know that my students have learned, but I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in a year of teaching as I have this year. As I close out this school year, my new organization has made me far more prepared for next school year as well.
Fewer Wasteful Copies
I used to make so many copies of things for my students, and their parents. There were times when I felt like I was contributing to the deforestation of our world. Teaching remotely and now in a hybrid model, I am much more aware of making paper copies. We still use paper of course – to write stories, create art work, etc. It’s just that I no longer have to send 10 copies of an upcoming project home. I’m not saying that I may not have to resend an email containing the link to the project description, but I feel better personally about making less copies. This is something I am going to work hard to continue in my classroom next school year. I realize that the way I communicate with families will change as a result of fewer paper copies, but I think it will be worth it.
Celebrate Your Students
Regardless of your overall feelings about this school year, remember that this was a milestone year in your students’ school careers. Some type of year end celebration is called for (whether remote, in-person, or both). Our students have overcome serious obstacles this school year.
We will spend these last few weeks writing about what we’ve learned and discussing all of the ways we’ve grown. I have not quite decided how I will handle the last day of school (since two-thirds of my students will not be in-person that day). It will, however, be a celebration for all of us!
Make sure your students realize that they have accomplished a lot this year – because they have.
For more fun May tips, check out our May Teacher Talk below.