First week back, and I fell asleep at my desk

Every Tuesday and Thursday I have an 8am class. It’s year 11 Philosophy, which I love, so no resentment there at all. It’s just an early class, and given that I have been really committed to exercising before school every day, and given that this is the first week back of full-time face-to-face teaching since schools went to Learning From Home, well… maybe it’s excusable that I put my head down for a quick rest of my eyes only to wake up ten minutes later. Right? Luckily for me I have my own office, although I am pretty sure that a teacher in a classroom that looks into my office saw me asleep. What a great image for one of my colleagues to have of the head teacher of teaching and learning! Oh dear.

Philosophy was great, students are always keen even if they do meander in well after the bell (who can blame them – asking 16 year olds to be at school for 8am is a deal, at my old school our before school classes started at 7.30am!). Following my philosophy lesson, I had a prep period so I used it to get resources ready for ILP. ILP = Independent Learning Project (you can read about it here on the website I made www.ilpmanly.weebly.com) and the six teachers come from a range of faculties. We try our best to put on teachers who want to teach ILP, but sometimes we get teachers who have gaps on the timetable. Not this year though, which is really nice. We haven’t seen our ILP classes since Week 9 of Term 1, so the focus for the lesson was to catch up, but to also give them an opportunity to add evidence and annotations into their MLP. MLP = Manly Learner Portfolio. I haven’t made a website for that yet, although I probably need to because we hope to run it across all year groups soon. It started this year, and we are running it with year 7 in Praxis and year 10 in ILP. You guessed it, I’m the coordinator of it, haha. Who knows what will happen when it’s introduced into years 8 and 9 where I don’t have any whole grade courses that I coordinate. I made a video explaining to students how to add content to their portfolios (we are using Google Slides) and some tips on writing annotations etc. Students identify evidence of where they have demonstrated growth towards one or more of the nine attributes of a Manly scholar. We decided on these attributes in collaboration with staff and students. I presented on it parents earlier in the year, and they loved it. (Please don’t steal these without crediting me/my school as your original source, thanks!)

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Period 3 was year 7 Praxis! The first time I have seen these guys since Week 9 of Term 1 also. They’re currently working on the Games 4 Good project, which you can read about on the website I created praxismanly.weebly.com. They’ve tried really hard to keep collaborating on their game designs remotely, but it was much better being together in the one space. We just spent the lesson going over what the game designs were for each team, and writing a little 150 word summary of it. It was funny overhearing one of the teams re-introducing themselves as they had forgotten names! We have to remember that year 7 had just over 2 months with each other before COVID-19, so they really didn’t know each other that well! It’s like starting school all over again – I can only imagine what Kindy kids are like this week!

Period 4 I was off class and spent most of my time responding to emails (yay, not) and finishing that Henry IV article – finally! This is the period when I fell asleep at my desk, haha. Once I woke up, it was lunch so I went into my classroom and tidied it up – I share this space with other teachers (two of my classes are offline, so that means a lot of time when others are in my room) and it had got into a bit of a state. I put up some new posters, and moved my desk to a new position. I’m not sure the other teachers will like the new desk situation, so I’ll have to check in with them to see. I’ll move it back if they don’t like it. After lunch would normally be my flexi-time (when I can go home early because of my off-line classes) but my son attends my school so I have to stay. I spent the period giving feedback on year 12 bell work and checking their team analysis tables.

Oh, I also forgot – it was Public Education Day, where we celebrate being an awesome system. At the end of lunch a colleague caught up with me to ask about the pay freeze to the public sector that the NSW government has just proposed. I assured him that the NSWTF will be doing something about it, and it reminded me to email my colleagues. Here is some of the email, if you want to follow some of the links and have your say about teaching I recommend you do because this data will be used to support union action on teacher workload.

Happy Public Education Day! 

Whilst today is a day to celebrate our wonderful profession (and you can read some lovely notes of thanks from notable Aussies here), we must also acknowledge that we are facing another blow from the government – this time an attack on our wages. As you may have heard through the media and via an email from the NSWTF, the NSW government has proposed a pay freeze (which is effectively a pay cut) for all public servants. You can read the NSWTF press statement in response here.  More information about the nature of the NSWTF response will come soon, no doubt. 

Given the timing of this proposal, in the first week back of full-time face-to-face teaching, it is really important that we use all opportunities to have our voices heard.  The best opportunity we have is to contribute to the ‘Valuing the teaching profession’ independent inquiry. If you would like to make an individual submission to the inquiry, you can do so here

Playground duty checking is a job, am I right?

As much as I’m glad I don’t have to do playground duty anymore (HTs don’t do it), checking that teachers are actually on their playground duty isn’t a bag of laughs (HTs do the teacher checking). My day is Wednesday once a fortnight, so it’s not a gig I can complain about, BUT I will make the observation that it’s quite hard to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea or eat some food or prepare for a lesson when you need to be walking around the school (outside and the occasional trip to a staffroom when someone forgets their duty – literally that was me every week when I did playground duty, so I have total empathy for them and feel like a jerk chasing them) every bell. I’m like Pavlov’s dogs – bell? Up and out! Haha!

I really can’t complain though, because I had two ‘free’ periods yesterday in which I could eat food and drink tea. Period 1 I spent marking year 12 bell work (yes, it seems excessive but I’m loving it – super good way to know where they are all at) and replying to emails and continuing to read the Henry IV article. Period 2 I had year 12 – they are REALLY getting into the reading of the play. I think it helps that we watched the Hollow Crown the week before, which is super fun, and now they understand the plot and the characters as we analyse the play-script itself. I thought it funny that the student whose work I read out as an exemplar was celebrating his birthday that day – what a present I gave him, haha!

After recess duty check (at least it wasn’t raining!), I spent period 3 writing yesterday’s blog post (is that bad of me, meh), revising my Philosophy slides (the ones I had used the morning before, I edited them based on class response to some of the wording), and continued with the Henry IV essay – it’s long, OK? Lunch duty fun followed that, and then two hours of Philosophy. I tell me students that epistemology takes a long time to get through because of the difficult content, but ethics takes a long time to get through because they all have something to say about every single ethical theory that I introduce them to! I had them all share via a Google Doc what their topics are for their PIP, and had a long conversation with a student about the difference between a sociology paper and a philosophy paper – he wanted to do his essay on nature vs nurture with a focus on psychopaths, and we ended up deciding that a focus on the nature of evil and moral responsibility would be a great philosophical angle. Looking forward to reading that paper!

I went home, did housework, watched TV and… did absolutely NO school work! I’m on a roll this week!

I forgot the hand sanitiser…

Tuesday, 27th May, 2020 – second day back to face-to-face teaching. 

Period 0 (8am) and the kids arrived, we said hello, I started the lesson – introduction to ethics, including amusing references to Harambe and a mental note for a Harambe-based community of inquiry – BUT I realised 35 mins in that I had forgotten to spray them with hand sanitiser. I told you it was going to happen! Luckily I remembered to give them wipes to clean down their tables and chairs at the end.

I had periods 1 and 2 off class, so I spent the time setting up a codes document for my year 12 students. Basically, this term I’m doing bell work with them again (see an older post explaining this) and I give feedback on all of their work using codes. I spent a couple of hours creating a document that summarised all of the codes I use. My process is this – highlight the stuff I think is great (like vocab, a specific phrase, a conceptual idea, an image) and then at the end of the task I give them two medals and two missions for the piece of writing. These take the form of codes, like Q = question and C = conceptual ideas. So, I wanted them to have an A4 sheet they could refer to quickly to find out what their feedback is more fully. I create it… see below! Oh, and here is the PDF if you want it. FEEDBACK CODES (2)

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I also spent time actually using the codes to give feedback on year 12 bell work from the previous lesson, and the go through their exit slips from the same lesson.

Period 3 I actually had my year 12 class – explaining why I was so focused on getting their feedback done. We started with a 5 minute bell work task, then I read two exemplar responses from the previous day’s bell work. The purpose of reading these exemplars is to create a bit of a personal challenge for the students, where they want to have their piece read out – I always read them aloud before revealing who they are by. It’s lovely to catch the eye of the writer sitting quietly and knowingly, sometimes a little blush in their cheeks. After that I handed out the codes sheet and the feedback from last lesson. I also gave them each a plastic sleeve to keep their bell work and exit slips in. Essentially this is what I do – the collect a piece of lined paper (HSC paper) and they use it for their bell work task on one side, and their end of lesson exit-slip task on the other. They hand in the paper at the end of the lesson, and I do the highlight/medals and missions feedback before returning it to them the next lesson. It takes me about 20 mins to give feedback on the whole class’ work – not per student, total. It’s like 60 seconds per student. So in class we read and analysed Act 1, Scene 2 of Henry IV: Part 1. They’re really into it. It’s nice. Oh, and I did remember the hand sanitiser, but forgot to get them to clean the desks at the end.

Period 4 was Praxis iii. I remembered the hand sanitiser! The focus for the lesson was seeing where everyone was at with their fantasy world artefacts and revising expectations if necessary. We have a huge document that shows what each person’s individual and collaborative projects are, so we just went through it in a really systematic way to identify what has been completed and what is still a work in progress. My students taught me how to use Alt + Shift + 5 to strike through text to indicate that a product was no longer going to be made – pretty neat. We highlighted in green the things that were complete – surprisingly more than I had expected. We also made a rough project calendar for the rest of term, and agreed that we would celebrate the end of the project with a party and playing a D&D campaign in their fantasy world. So cool.

Period 5 was an off-class period, so I spent it doing lesson prep. I created the critical frame booklet for year 12 – featuring two critical readings (one differentiated, the other from Bloom) and my notes from a really great podcast on Henry IV: Part 1. The booklets are differentiated for students, and will be the basis of our Socratic Seminars towards the end of term. I have already created groups for the Socratic Seminars which are based on ability, and have selected critical readings appropriate to the different levels. Thus, the booklets all look the same but are in fact different. I also spent some time reading an article on the play that a colleague shared with me.

The day ended with an executive meeting via Zoom – luckily my boss has allowed us to drive home and join the meeting from home. I chose this option, because it meant I could get my son home early enough to do homework and some chores, and I could listen to the discussions whilst preparing dinner. Don’t worry, I also joined in the chat when needed. The meetings via Zoom are SOOO much more efficient, and we always finish 30 minutes earlier than we would if we were at school. I hope this is something that we keep in the post-COVID world.

 

 

Nothing new, really…

The much anticipated Monday, 25th May arrived at last! And, to be honest, it didn’t feel any different from what school has always felt like. Yes, we have new markings on the floors, new signs around the school, new routines upon entering and leaving the classroom, and a new assembly format (Zoom displayed via classroom projectors)… but that’s it. I didn’t feel anxious at school – not even once. In fact, the only time my pulse raced a little was when I was about 200 metres from the school in my car and I started imagining all the kids crowded in the corridors at lunch and recess.

My day started with year 12 Advanced English. It was lovely to finally be back in my classroom with them (we’d been in a double room for the last two weeks). We started with the aforementioned Zoom assembly – basically a welcome back and some safety messages from our principal. I really, really liked the Zoom format. I reckon we should keep it. We did all have a giggle at the teachers who left their cameras on and didn’t know. After a 10 minute bell work activity (writing an opening paragraph for a discursive), I moved the class into their structural frame teams and allocated them each an element of narrative (theme, settings etc) to focus on as I read (and analysed) Act One, Scene One of Henry IV: Part 1. We ended with an exit ticket where they identified key ideas explored and shared their opinion of the characters.

Next lesson was Praxis iii. They’ve been working really well on building their fantasy world – it’s the create stage of this project now, so we have students working as poets, historians, cartographers, and engineers. I decided to do something fun for our first lesson back together in person. I set them the task of creating a Dungeons and Dragons character profile for a character from their fantasy world. They were really excited about it, and spent the whole lesson collaborating on their profiles. We’ve decided that we will play a campaign in their world using their characters before the end of term. Rad, huh?

Today was a lesson light day for me – I only had two. The rest of the day was spent writing year 12 references for scholarships, writing reports, and revising my resources for the Ethics module I’ll start teaching in Philosophy at 8am tomorrow. I had a year 12 student come and spend lunch with me – just to hang out because she couldn’t find her mates. I also delegated a time consuming admin job to one of our SASS staff, which was a first for me because I usually try to do everything myself.

As I read this back, it sounds like I didn’t do much today, but I sure do feel tired. I probably didn’t wash my hands enough today, but I did consciously use hand sanitiser whenever I left my office. I did my best to reduce the time I spent near other adults, but definitely spent too much time close to students. Ultimately, I did my best, but it’s inevitable that I’ll forget to be as safe as I should be because school is just a busy, bustling place. If I’m honest, I did feel safe at school today, but I think that’s more to do with the very low case numbers in Australia right now more than anything else.

How was your first day back to full-time face to face teaching?

Back to the blog…

I started this school year writing a blog post reflecting on what happened at school each day. I stopped when all the shit with the plague happened (which is bizarre because history will tell us that is the only period worth remembering). Well, I’m always one to go against what is expected, and so now that all the shit has started to settle (well, school is resuming as – storta – normal next week at least anyway) I’ve decided to come back here to continue with my reflections. Lucky you, huh?

The thing I wanna write about now is one anxiety I have about next Monday (when students return full time and normal timetabling resumes). It’s not about getting COVID-19. It’s actually about workload. What does that tell you about the teaching profession when you’re more worried about burnout than a potentially fatal, highly contagious virus that’s shut down the world? It tells you that teaching is deadly. Even if you take that last sentence figuratively, when you’re a teacher it consumes your life, which means you really have no other life separate from it. It is a sort of living death. That sounds all very Yeatsian, but what I’m trying to say is that even though lock-down and teaching remotely were really hard for a range of reasons, I actually felt alive and relaxed for the first time in a while. OK, so maybe I’m just talking about the last two weeks, and maybe I’m just talking about my own experience at my school, but that’s OK cos I’m not claiming to be talking on behalf of anyone else here. I am being honest. The last two weeks (where only year 12 have been on campus full time, and juniors one day per week) have been fantastic. Juniors have been asynchronous except for one period per week (not necessarily the in-school period). It’s just freed up so much time to get all the other teachery work done. I’ve managed to give meaningful and regular feedback on work, keep track of where each student is with their learning, write programs, plan high quality lessons, write reports, do HT admin stuff (too boring to list) all within school time! I’ve even been able to go to the toilet when I need to, and eat lunch at lunch time! I’ve been able to attend staff, faculty and executive meetings from home – sometimes listening to the feed whilst making dinner! When the work day is done, I’m finished. No working after-hours or on the weekend. Basically, I felt human and alive – not a teacher robot.

Next week won’t be like that. Next week we will return to the old timetable. Next week the bell times will go back as they were. It’s all going to come crashing back – all the reasons why I’ve contemplated leaving teaching. To be honest, during all of this crisis, I haven’t once thought about quitting. I spent a lot of time angry and hurt, but I never once thought I’d quit. It’s weird, because prior to it all I thought about quitting often. Like easily once a week. So what does this say about the job? I was speaking to a colleague yesterday and she echoed my concerns. We share an anxiety bond, and like me she admitted she was less anxious about the virus and more anxious about the return to the intensity of our teacher workload. We shared the positives of the last two weeks, and our new appreciation for how a reduced face-to-face teaching load really can improve teaching and learning. It could keep more teachers in the profession.

As a Fed Rep, that’s the thing I’m going to be fighting for. We need more teachers so we can reduce teaching loads and improve the lives of our teachers, and our students. We can say it’s up to individual schools to innovate in the post-COVID world, but it shouldn’t be an individual case thing – it should be a centralised decision so all teachers benefit.

 

Forgetting and then freaking out…

It’s been almost a month since I’ve written anything here on this blog. Why? Because it’s been a weird, weird month and I’ve not had the drive to document the weirdness. I’m too lazy to check the calendar and see when it was that we were told students were returning for one day per week on 11th May, but I do know it was the first Tuesday in the school holidays (what a misnomer that term is!). I know that after the announcement from Mark Scott via live stream, all the shit we had left hit the fan. We were four days into our relief time from the chaos of the end of term, and we were thrown into the fray again. I spent four hours with my boss at school that day, and then many hours together virtually and online as we prepared (a fucking brilliant plan that totally worked) to bring our kids back one day a week.

The new date that looms before me is 25th May. At some point this week we are going to be told by our (premier/media/secretary of education – same entity, right?) that all students will return as of Monday next week. I feel weirdly ambivalent about it. What difference does it make now? After all of the hard work, the planning, the complete transformation of how we operate as a school within a ridiculously tiny amount of time, well, it amounts (as usual for we teachers) to nothing really and we will just keep pushing to do as we are told. Honestly, that’s what it feels like. Like I’m a tiny ant at the foot of a giant just waiting for the inevitable kick that will launch me into my next unknown world of ‘OK, we go this’ (which has become a bit of a mantra for teachers since term resumed – what else can we do?) before shuffling my way back to the giant to await the next kick. You know?

Anyway, right now for me things seem fairly normal as I’m going into work physically every day. I’m writing reports like usual (well, when I write my year 12 reports that are due today, haha) and I’m marking lots of year 12 work. I’m teaching year 12 every lesson like ‘normal’ too – I got lucky and have a double room so we’re all together. Only one student was at home last week, and I had all my lessons written for online anyway. That student will be back this week. I taught year 11 philosophy at school as well – that was lovely. No, nothing has changed (despite all the edu gurus claiming it would), I haven’t ‘stuck to the new mode’. I’m just teaching like I always did and enjoying it.

So for me, that slip back into normal is probably the most worrying today. Why? Well, either today or some time this week we will find out kids are coming back full time. I’m the teacher who ALWAYS forgets to mark her roll. I mean, always. I’ll never move further up the ranks in the teacher career progression because I simply can’t do admin that disinterests me. In fact, I mostly can’t do anything that disinterests me. Yes, I’m a child. So how does that relate to kids returning? Basically, I’m just going to forget that COVID-19 ever happened (is happening?). I will feel horribly anxious each afternoon when I realise that I’ve gone through the whole school day and forgotten to keep my distance from students and colleagues. I will forget to wash my hands as often as a should, and I will forget to use hand sanitiser too. I’ll forget to wipe down keyboards and light-switches and the computer mouse and the desk. I know I will because I can’t even remember to mark a roll, or to check homework, or to hand out notes (you know the ones where people ask you to do them a favour and you say yes but then you forget?). Once I get into the classroom my entire focus is on the lesson and my class. That’s it.

That makes me scared. Yeah, the infection rate is really low in Australia, so we should feel relatively safe. But only last week a school closed because of cases. We’re meant to act like we have it, and like everyone else we come into contact with has it too. The problem is, I know that once I’m in the zone at school I won’t act like that.

I can’t remember why I wanted to write something today. To procrastinate from writing my year 12 reports? Quite possibly. I think it really was to just try and capture that dual feeling of ‘oh shit/I’m OK’. It’s hard to express, but there you have it. I tried.

Here’s to future me forgetting and then freaking out.

We are hurt.

In the space of three days (in the middle of a pandemic which was swiftly closing down our country) teachers calmly and creatively shifted our focus from learning at school to learning from home. It was truly remarkable. For the remaining two weeks of term we ensured continuity of learning for all of the young people in our care, all whilst coordinating additional cleaning, rotating rosters, revised assessment and reporting schedules, reimagining pedagogy for the upcoming term and managing our own personal lives in the context of a global crisis. We did this without complaint. We did not strike when we were refused pupil free days at the end of term. We did what was asked of us, and now in the holidays as we try to recuperate and prepare for an uncertain term, our professionalism and our commitment to the education of our students has been questioned publicly by our prime minister, our premier, our minister for education. We are hurt. It is a hurt that stems from not being trusted, and it is a hurt that will cause long term harm to our profession. The impact of this hurt won’t be visible during this crisis, but it will be afterwards when we have no more reserves to draw upon.

Nothing to see here, just a teacher tweeting during a pandemic

On the 6th of February, I tweeted that I was giving Twitter up. If I’m honest, Twitter had been shitting me for quite some time. I guess my tweet sums up why?

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For the following month and a bit, I kept away from Twitter, and spent much more time here writing (almost) daily reflections of what was happening in my classroom. It was actually really enjoyable, and helped me focus more on my practice, and what my role as an executive meant in the day-to-day motions of school. I found that I didn’t miss Twitter. Not even a tiny bit. Over ten years in that space, I had gathered many people who are now friends (some I’ve never met in person, and as an introvert that’s fine with me), these friends were with me still on Instagram or Facebook. TBH, I actually kicked FB for a few weeks too – Instagram stories became my rant space, much to the dismay of ex-students who had once thought it amusing to follow their teacher, lol.

Well, it all changed when COVID-19 started to become real. It made me realise that I needed Twitter again. Firstly, to see how other schools were responding to the crisis, and secondly as a public space to share my experiences and concerns. I started here, writing the post Could compassion and compliance prove our undoing? and trying to articulate my frustration with the delay in closing schools, and the main reasons I felt that we wouldn’t. It’s interesting that today, whilst anxiously waiting for the Premier’s announcement about schools for Term 2, I have decided to write this post to document the last month for my future self. It’s the same conundrum we had when I wrote that first post about COVID-19. The PM just yesterday appealed to those two qualities so abundant in teachers – compassion and compliance – to try and lure us back into the classroom even though it is not safe, and the pandemic continues to rage its way around the world. Just before returning to Twitter, I wrote another post in anticipation of backlash about PBL and distance learning from certain quarters: Can we still do Project Based Learning at home? Yes we can!  My return to Twitter came that same day, with a tweet about gin and two of my favourite authors – Orwell and Fitzgerald.

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But, here was the important one, admitting that I was coming back to what I had chosen to quit. It has turned out to be, for the most part, a good decision. 

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I needed to be (virtually) with a community of people who understood how I was feeling, but more importantly I needed to be connected to clever, capable, resilient and generous people – and that’s who my PLN are when the shit hits the fan. My mate Kelli this reinvigoration of eduTwitter in her vlog, here.  

What happens when you tweet a lot each day? Well, for me it means I don’t write on my blog as much. It also means that I basically have a public diary of my thoughts and experiences – and given that we are living through history right now (pretty sure this pandemic will be taught in schools one day), I figure that’s kinda cool. My tweets are never very interesting but for me they have captured a particularly crazy time in my life and I want to record here, in a place easy to access,  at least the tweet that I know I will want to remember – and maybe some grandchildren one day will enjoy reading them? Unless WordPress dies and takes this blog with it? Haha. Warning: No need to keep reading from here, lulz.

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Some ‘lesson recipes’ for maintaining quality teaching and learning from home

I don’t know if that title is very good… I’m not happy with it but I’m tired and so I’m just gonna leave it. Because I am tired, I am also just going to copy an email I sent to my executive colleagues to accompany these ‘recipes’. Why are they ‘recipes’? Well, on the Wednesday of the ‘first week of the rest of our crazy year’ (Wednesday, Week 9) one of my year 11 Philosophy students asked me if I could help teachers with a ‘lesson recipe’ to ensure that there is some consistency between classes. Each teacher was writing up their lessons in different ways and students were struggling to follow the instructions or understand expectations. That evening I wrote my first ‘recipe’ which was just a scaffold for how to post lessons to an online learning platform – really basic. Here it is:

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Anyway, during a meeting in the ‘war room’ with the senior executive they recommended that I create some more specific ‘recipes’ for different types of lessons. I love a challenge, so I rose to it (I think) and as you read in my last post, I spent a few days planning before coming upon a final model (again, thanks Kelli for suggesting this four part model). Here’s where I copy the email text, lol. What I’ve created is a blended Learning From Home model for our teachers and students. The idea is that we take our excellent face-to-face teaching practice (both its diversity and structure) and modify it for the Learning From Home context. It features four types of lessons – synchronous (individual and collaborative), asynchronous individual, asynchronous device-free and asynchronous creative/collaborative which teachers can rotate through over a week or a cycle.  (This is the bit Kelli McGraw helped me with – deciding which four to include!) It is not meant to be prescriptive, just a template to support planning of lessons. Teachers who choose to use it can fill in the template for the four lessons and it can be shared with students on the beginning of the week/fortnight. Some teachers might just be interested in the suggestions for how to run collaborative work online which can be found in the link in the ‘asynchronous creative/collaborative’.

Anyway, I’m all about sharing, so here is the model – the feedback from my peers has been really encouraging. Yay!

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Here is a link to a PDF of the docs above. Here is a link to the doc with the overview of the online collaborative activities.

Please, please comment on this blog post and let me know if these help, or how you might use them, or if you have some tips or suggestions. We are all learning together!

What did day nine of our new education mode look like for me?

I’m going to try to be more diligent with daily entries into this blog. I don’t know if I’ll write on the weekends or in the holidays, as I foresee them being incredibly boring, but who knows? Maybe one of my grandchildren will look back and read this to better understand the great plague of 2020? Unlikely, but writing feels good to me most days, so I’ll just do it even if it’s for myself.

Yesterday was the first day of the third week of our new education mode – basically for me that just means online teaching and learning. I think I’ve said it in previous posts, but I work in an affluent area (hell, it’s been on the news the last four days because people over here refuse to stop going to the beach) and at an academic selective school. This means that I have students with access to technology, safe family homes, and also they are eager to continue learning even in this new mode. That makes my context pretty unique, so what I’m writing here isn’t to tell everyone else how to teach in this new mode – to be honest, I don’t think I know how to do it that well just yet. I’m literally making it up as I go along, and trying my hardest to read as much as I can so as that I’m informed and inspired. Yesterday as I sat in my bedroom office (literally a chair and desk I stole from work shoved up against my built-in wardrobe), I found myself on Twitter ‘researching’ instead of brainstorming some lesson plan models for online teaching to share with my colleagues. Being on Twitter can sometimes be counterproductive, but sometimes gems come across your feed. Here are the two that I found which made my planning and thinking much clearer:

Kathleen Morris tweeted (way back on the 8th of March) a comprehensive (but actually really useful and clear) list of resources for teaching online. I know there are a LOT of these around at the moment (nothing like a plague for some easy Internet points) but this one is actually good. Here’s the link: https://www.theedublogger.com/teaching-online-school-closures/

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Key take-aways for me were using Google slides for daily lesson plans – there is a link to a free template in the post; tips for video conferencing; device free lessons; and the tip for using the same Google spreadsheet when gathering learning data (like exit slips and quizzes) on Google Forms.

The second gem was a tweet from Annabel Astbury. She retweets a post from AITSL, and it actually has some really useful tips for online teaching. I like it because it’s research-based tips – I’m big on balancing practitioner experience and research stuff where possible, although (rightly or wrongly) I will always privilege the former over the latter.  Here is the link: https://www.aitsl.edu.au/research/spotlight/what-works-in-online-distance-teaching-and-learning You need to scroll down to ‘Advice for teachers delivering content online’.

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Key take-aways for me: the information about the integrated model of online/distance education, illustrated in the awesome diagram seen below (Adapted from Picciano, 2017, p182). I also liked the reminder that learning “there are three forms of interaction widely recognised as crucial to program development and delivery – student-content, student-student, student-teacher (Simonson, Schlosser, & Orellana, 2011)”. As teachers we KNOW this stuff, but we can forget it when we are stressed and tired. I liked this post for its brevity and clarity – what we all need these days.

I spent some time in the afternoon chatting via Twitter message and then on the phone (OMG, real voices!) with my always amazing and inspiring friend Kelli McGraw. She helped me really pare down my original ideas for models for teachers, and we came up with something that I am super happy with. I’m going to present it to staff today via email (we don’t have whole staff meetings anymore unless they are in Zoom, and I don’t want to butt in to my boss’s talk) and based on their feedback, I’ll post it up here tomorrow hopefully.

Oh, I also managed to ‘teach’ three classes yesterday as well. Zoom call with my awesome year 12 class – first one for us as they’ve been on StuVac since school has been in this new mode (can’t say closed cos they’re not technically closed, are they?). Zoom call with year 9 Praxis iii finalising their fantasy world ideas, and an asynchronous lesson for year 10 ILP – they are ‘independent’ after all. Day finished with a faculty meeting Hangout call which was fun as we all showed each other our pets, lol. Bring on another day!