Week 2: Continuous Learning – Ask for Help…But Be Confident

Context:

At this point we had been doing Continuous Learning for four days. We only thought we had five more days to go. I was still going into school, as were a number of teachers. Because there was still some face-to-face interaction, there was still a lot of informal conversation about what teachers were seeing. It was easy to see what some of the big struggles would be: organization and well being. These would remain as areas of focus for next four months.

The Big Idea: Ask for Help…But Be Confident

We had three types of kids in middle school online.

  • The ones doing okay. Asks questions sometimes, makes mistakes, but in general doing okay. To be honest, most kids fit into this one.
  • The questioner. Asks a lot of questions. Needs a lot of virtual support and positive feedback. Very very afraid of making a mistake.
  • The Ghost. Gets lost or confused, but refuses to ask teachers for help. So got even more lost. Often ignores emails, googlechats, etc. These are the one that took the most time.

This week we tried to speak to all of them. To give positive reinforcement to the ones figuring it out, to empower the kids who felt lost without constant teacher feedback, and to invite kids to ask questions.

Big Reflection Months Later:

I wish I had been more proactive somehow with The Ghosts. We saw them very very early in the Continuous Learning Program. I wish we had set up more intentional teams, including parents, as soon as we saw them ghost. I don’t think we needed to wait until they start missing work.

Taking Forward:

This video talks a lot about organization, self-management, and self-advocacy. I’ve really been thinking that schools need to build some sort of flex time within the school day where kids are free to move around, create their own schedule, seek out help, and do all the things they did while campus is closed. While we can teach organization within the context of a traditional classroom, the gap between that and Continuous learning is huge. So many kids have proved that they can handle this freedom. Other kids have proved they need more practice with the freedom with a more secure safety net.

Unseen Struggles

“Some of you are working waaaay more than we expect you to”.

Trying to figure out how long it takes a student to do a task is close to impossible. In class, we adapt. We make individual accommodation, we change the deadline, we stop a lesson to go down an interesting tangent.

Understandably teachers really struggled with how long a task would take online. So we started with positive intentions of all teachers:

  • Everyone wants our students to learn, to be happy, and to be healthy.
  • We are assigning tasks that seems reasonable, but the kids are stressed
  • We are assigning work, but it’s hard to tell how much time it’ll take
  • The students want to do well on the work we are assigning,  but they keep asking me to repeat the instructions. Again and again. And again 
  • I’m doing all of this work, but some kids aren’t doing what is expected.

Once we had these expectations, we created this slideshow to provide some structural, pedagogical, and practical support. It was amazing how much teachers adapted their practice to the needs to the kids, thought their own hard work, collaboration and learning.

Stray Thoughts

As teachers saw organization being a roadblock for success they started to create and share work to support student learning around this topic. Big thanks to Amanda for creating this awesome poster. Pro-tip – get your art and design teachers to create awesome things!

And Tina for creating this Daily Agenda.

Finally…

At the end of Week 2 was going to be our Spring Break. Never has a Spring Break been so welcomed.

About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
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