As part two of our webinar roundtable series, we continue our conversation with Dr. Christopher Harrington and Elizabeth LeBlanc; now joined by Lauren Speiser, National Board-certified Kindergarten teacher; and Nicole Allien, former teacher and current instructional technologist, discussing obstacles they’ve overcome from the pandemic and remote learning. Learn how you can leverage educational technology this coming school year.
What you’ll learn:
Amy Bennett from Lightspeed Systems:
Welcome everybody to part two of our post pandemic conversation, 1 to 1, Now What?
In part one, a couple of weeks ago, we focused on instruction.
Today, we’re going to be talking about devices.
More than 50 million devices were shipped to K-12 schools, in just the first 12 months of the pandemic.
It far outpaced any expectations schools had for what they were going to buy.
It really accelerated progress towards a 1 to 1 that schools were planning, but moving along on a pace, that certainly was not what ended up happening.
So now, here we are, you have more devices than you ever had before.
What do you do with them? How do you make the most of them?
That’s what we’re going to be talking about today.
I am Amy Bennett, Chief of Staff at Lightspeed Systems, and your moderator for this conversation.
Let’s meet our panelists.
We have Chris Herrington and Elizabeth LeBlanc.
They are from the Institute of Teaching and Leading, welcome back.
We also have joining us this week, Nicole Allien.
She is from Caddo Parish Schools where she is Instructional Technologist and Lauren Speiser a Board Certified Kindergarten Teacher.
In addition to our panelists, we want to make sure all of you are a part of the conversation.
So ask your questions, add your thoughts, just use that question box in your GoToWebinar panel.
Well, let’s jump on in to really get you started contributing.
We’re gonna start with a poll question: How long has your district been 1 to 1?
Choose one of those answers will give you just a couple of seconds to fill this in.
All right, five more seconds to get your answers in.
Let’s see what we’ve got.
So, 25% of our schools are not there yet, not at 1 to 1.
But 50% have gotten to 1 to 1 in the last 0 to 2 years, which is it really timing that aligns with what we’ve all experienced with the pandemic.
So Chris and Liz, let’s start with you.
I know you work with hundreds of schools around the country, around the globe, actually.
Does that match what you have seen? Were districts already 1 to 1?
Did they jump into it during and due to the pandemic? What did you guys see?
Thanks Amy. Appreciate being here today. I think the results of that poll are pretty representative of what we see across the country, in terms of 1 to 1 initiatives. Now, our work at the Institute for Teaching and Leading, we have a tendency to be working more with schools who either have a 1 to 1 initiative or well on their way, because we really focus a lot on what’s that next step beyond the 1 to 1 initiative.
However, in our work, we do come across a lot of schools who don’t have a 1 to 1 initiative, and there’s several different reasons for that.
Sometimes, it’s just because they don’t have the community support for it, or they don’t have the financial resources, or they don’t have the internal personnel to be able to, to support that. But, you know, 1 to 1 programs have been around for years, and I think that’s why we see a lot of the schools, as you saw there in the poll, 4 to 6 years, and even longer than that, some school districts have been involved in 1 to 1 programs.
And just to add to that, what we did see across schools and districts that were working with Amy, was the ones that had gone 1 to 1 or certainly in a much better provision to kind of whether the pandemic than those that were having to kind of start from the ground up, as, you know, as you might expect.
But the other thing that we found that was really interesting, and I think, is kind of that board looking piece that we have to deal with now, is that even places where, on paper, we thought, we were fully 1 to 1.
We realize they are still gaps, There were still students and families that the initiative wasn’t reaching for different reasons, maybe multiple students in the home or competing needs within the home for a device. Or, you know, they’re underserved for internet access.
So there’s still work to be done to really, you know, make sure that that initiative truly does hit and serve all students at a level that allows them to have access to that high quality instruction that we also worked on over the last two years, right, to be able to deliver virtually hybrid and in person.
So, just to kind of add to that, we uncovered a lot as we started supporting schools and districts in this way.
Sorry, I was muted, of course. That’s one of those things that will happen at least once every time. Now it’s out of the way.
It’s a really great point. That, you know, it’s not a once and done, too. It’s not buy the devices, and you’re done. There’s more that goes into it.
And that progress to 1 to 1 is progress, first of all, but then ongoing.
Nicole , I know that, you guys at Caddo felt like you were close to 1 to 1 a couple of years ago, before any of this happened. What did you guys really see and experience when you got into that?
Yeah we thought we thought we had a plan in place pre pandemic. We were headed the 1 to 1. We thought we were much closer than we were.
And then we found out that we were not, you know, we were thrown into a situation like everyone else in the United States and all over the world, and we looked at everything that we had and thought, oh, no.
No, this is not working, these are not updated. We need to do some refreshing.
We’re not anywhere near where we need to be. And we had to say, OK, this is a family of three, so you guys are going to need to share a device that we sent home with you. And we had to just be creative with how we get devices to our students, because we we’re truly not where we thought that we were supposed to be.
So you went and came up with plans like that it seems like sort of family by family. Did you also jump on ordering devices or finding devices in closets?
Absolutely, we did have to jump on ordering devices and of course, we get in line behind every other school group that had to order devices. But yes, we were looking in closets and in storage rooms in the back of the libraries, wherever we could find something. We were looking and using them.
And you felt like you were pretty well prepared pretty far along. Lauren, you would’ve said you were less so. You were you were not 1 to 1 before the pandemic. What was that experience like for you?
So we had devices at our school. Now it wasn’t 1 to 1, but we had enough. We started with like, Macs and desktops. And then we were actually transitioning into Dells and Chromebooks right before the pandemic. Then the pandemic hit, and our K -6 students, we had a decent amount of supply of Chromebooks.
So they were able to get devices pretty early on. But then, yeah, we kind of got stuck with all the other schools and districts purchasing Chromebooks. So the older grades kind of had to wait a little bit. Luckily, a lot of students already had things at home that they were able to utilize. And then this past year, we’ve been fully 1 to 1. All the students down to pre-K, all the way up to 12th grade.
All got Chromebooks, so we were kind of building it as we’re going along.
But I will say, like our district already kind of had a really good plan in place as far as using technology. So we didn’t have the 1 to 1, but they already had a lot of digital resources that our students were using in the classroom. So that was kind of helpful, but wasn’t completely ground zero, starting at nothing.
So I think that helped a little bit, but it was, I mean, it still was new learning how to use these different devices. I feel like for me as a teacher, one of the biggest challenges was, I have a MacBook, but all my students had Chromebooks. So even trying to help them, it was like, all right, where’s the start button on yours, because mine’s a little bit different, like, that was the hard part for me.
Yes. So that’s challenging. As a classroom teacher, you’re trying to, essentially kindergarteners, you’re trying to help them and not having the same experience they are.
We hear from a lot of schools, too, about the challenges more on the technology and instructional technology, and how are you updating them, managing them, providing tech support to parents, all the different things.
Did you end up with kind of a wider mix of devices than you would have expected because of those closets, Nicole how did you deal with that?
And now, and I’ll say this from the instructional technology side, we actually set up a help desk number for parents and students.
We had another thing for teachers. Now, we also sent out a survey: Do you have a device at home already?
Because if they had a device at home that they were able to use, then we could give a device from the school to someone else who just didn’t have it.
So we had a mixed bag, for sure. We try to have our K-2 students on the iPads, 3-5 with the Chromebooks.
As they get older they have laptops, you know, 6-12, some Chromebooks in high school as well, but yeah, we had students on desktops at home. Students own their Mac books, and I mean, everything, and we as a department had to figure out.
We did a lot of Googling.
Because if it wasn’t a device that we had already, we had to figure out what button are they talking about, can you FaceTime me so that I can see what you’re looking at? You know, it was interesting,
Right, and then you’re providing tech support in a new way from most of your support, where students are coming into the office or delivering something.
Plenty of challenges there. Liz, when you’re helping schools come up with their plans and figure all of this out, I know that the advice I have read for many schools has been, it’s just going to make it easier on your teachers, if you’re pretty consistent with your operating system or your device.
Did you used to say that, and how did that change, when you’re advising them, of like, you just need devices and here’s how you can make it work.
Right? I mean, yes. So there’s the ideal case scenario, right?
Chris and I joke that like best case scenario. We get the call before this district has rolled out a 1 to 1 device initiative and that’s in the best of times, pandemic, notwithstanding, right? At the best of times we want this to be something that is really well thought out and Chris really excels at meeting with district leadership and really helping them develop their vision.
For what they want teaching and learning to look like.
Before we even get to the question of what kind of device, what kind of curriculum, what kind of delivery, what kind of rollout will there be, what kind of PD to teachers need to make this effective? But we really do have, you know, kind of eight different pathways that we’re guiding districts through and time landing with them. And again, that’s the ideal case scenario.
You know, what happened more during pandemic and what often happens is that we get the call after they’ve done a 1 to 1 rollout and there’s the effect isn’t there. They’re not seeing substantial changes in student achievement or growth. Or, you know, it’s not having a transformational impact yet, and that’s usually because that kind of really intentional work was not done earlier.
And Chris, I can let you speak a little more.
Because often you are the one who is kind of helping them go backwards a little bit before they can go forwards.
And of course during the pandemic, that time, that really deep, reflective time, was not a luxury that we heard. We are hopeful.
I think for me, and then I’ll pitch to Chris, but part of that now, what is that slowing down and reflecting, like, what would we like instruction to truly look like now that we have time to design it appropriately, and effectively, Chris, what did I miss? And I’m talking a lot about your role.
Yeah. That whole idea about taking a few steps backwards and when we come in and work with the school district, after they’ve already started, they move down the pathway a little bit. It’s tricky. Sometimes you have a mix of different devices and different operating systems, as Nicole alluded to and inexperienced herself, and that just creates some hurdles that you have to overcome.
And when I was a technology director for a school district back in a different life, we went down the route of offering, bring your own device, and that quickly turned into a little bit of a nightmare for us.
Not to say that, that can work, but it was really difficult for us, because we had all these different devices, and we were so, ill-prepared to be able to provide tech support for all of those. So, it really gets in the way of things and honestly sooner or later, those kids that were using their home devices, they eventually said, I just want a school device, because I know it will work, it’ll have the software that I need. And, and once you kinda get things standardized there, it makes life a lot easier for your technology department.
It makes it a lot easier for teachers because now they don’t have to provide some, you know, on the fly technology support for all these different devices, which honestly takes a lot of time away from working with the kids and learning. So, that’s a really important point that you made there, Amy, about the consistent operating system, that some level of standardization.
Well, and you both hit on the difference between the ideal and the reality and that’s a gap everyone is facing now and, you know, even within the ideal, I’ve talked to a lot of schools who want some degree of standardization.
Maybe it’s all kindergarteners on iPads and middle school is different, or is by grade or class or some things rather than a mix in classes but regardless the schools looking at some kind of mix.
So what, what do you advise schools in terms of how you make all of that work?
It seems like LMS was a big thing that came up in the beginning of the pandemic.
Like, we need to a standard place and way to share files, for example, because now, we’ve got all kinds of devices, what are some foundational tools that make all that work?
I’ll chime in again, I don’t want to hog all the time here, but, yeah, you know, what we experience, and, again, Nicole, I think you, you live this firsthand when you’re thrown into a situation like a school closures and relying on all the technology, and you actually didn’t have the time that you expected to be able to plan all of this out. Things can be really difficult.
But I would say, Amy in a perfect world, if you have the conversation about what we want teaching and learning to look like in the future, and then start backing the technology pieces in that will actually support that, that’s the way to go. It takes a while to do. It’s not, I mean, it usually takes about a year or so for us to work with the school district to get them in that place where they can now start buying the equipment with intentionality. If they already have it, obviously, as we talked about, we have to kind of make do with where we are.
But once you know what you’re trying to accomplish instructionally, then you can find the devices that will work for you.
And when you have those devices, then you can look at compatibility of digital content, and compatibility of your LMS.
And also, any student information system that you might have. Or student assessment systems for tracking student achievement data.
With all these things integrated incompatible, that’s when you can really start to see some gains and innovation in your teaching and learning process.
I think that’s a great point of working backwards, thinking about what your real goals are making all that work together. And then tied to that is not just the software, not just the technology but some of the processes and Nicole you and I were talking about what that looks like in taking devices home right?
Tell me, tell everyone a little bit about what you did pre pandemic during pandemic, and what that looks like for next year in terms of devices staying at school going home or some mix.
So pre pandemic we did not really take devices home.
I guess we have 58 school sites, so there could have been a cite or two that said, hey we’re ready and these kids can take their stuff home you know maybe more high school but pandemic hits, we didn’t have everything to send home.
We had the, you know, like we said, we just grabbed everything from closets, from storage, from libraries, from the classrooms, from the carts, never seen a cart broken down so fast until, you know, March, we throw in everything out of it.
But, um, so, they took them home, they came and got them, they checked them out, and took them home?
When summer hit, we got them back, you know, they came back, they checked them back in, we may or may not have received everything that we sent out back, and that’s OK.
So, schools starting again, they will get those devices back, they will, each student will have owned devices, checked out of them, they will travel to and from, I mean, look at where we are today.
What the news is saying today, I don’t know we may start school and two weeks later, not be in school anymore. So, we want those devices traveling to and from. And we want them able to use them and in ready to go, you know, at a moment’s notice.
So, for us, there, they’re gonna come to and from school, and in the summer, there’ll be checked back into us and we’ll do all the things that we need to do to them.
And, you know, refresh them, take a look at them, see if we need to repair any of them and all that kind of stuff.
But the plan is to send them.
I imagine that some of the things that kept you from sending device at home, like they’re gonna get lost there, they’re gonna get broken. How are we going to keep them say, how are all these things are going to work?
You just had to figure it out and deal with it.
And now that you’ve had, now that you have, you can really move forward on, here’s why we’re doing it, here’s what it looks like, here’s how to make it really great.
This 24-7, learning opportunity, not kids on devices, 24-7, but an opportunity.
Liz, where are you going to jump in there?
I was, I actually, I don’t mean, to, you know, you’re moderating great, Amy.
I do have a follow up question for Nicole, which was, that was kind of, as you were talking, I was thinking about, earlier, you just really exemplified, I think, a lot of the kind of creative solutions that we all came up with. And, you know, they were implemented as band-aids, right?
We came up with these solutions super quickly, because they were needed.
Um, but I was wondering what of those your district might have kept, or, that might be things that you are growing on for the next year. Were there things that you did as a band-aid that worked that you are keeping in your processes?
And I hope that was all right, Amy?
Yes, of course.
Well, one of the things, I think, that we definitely had to do as a band aid, you know, we’re throwing devices that people, but we had to come up with very quickly some kind of agreement, you know, between school, and in parent, or school, and student, or whatever, about. this device is a loan to you.
That kind of thing we had to, we had to have them sign, and we’ve, of course, revamp that agreement.
We’ve seen some things, like, oh, this one has come back with a cracked screen, or this one’s come up with missing keys or whatever, so we’ve had to revamp our agreement. But that is one thing we definitely had think about as is the agreement between the school system and the parents.
Another thing that we had to do was, figure out a way for these students who didn’t have internet access to be able to, you know, use the device to get on their meeting with their teacher or whatever.
So we had to purchase hot spots and send them out to those rural areas and let those students borrow those hotspots.
We also had to, we had a partnership with our local ISP for subsidized pricing for our students that who couldn’t afford an internet service. So, those are things that we are continuing to do.
We’re still trying to, you have our community, and partnerships with that, and be able to provide that kind of thing.
That’s something that we’re going to have to continue to do for those students.
Those strides in connectivity for more students, I think, are one of the things that it’s great to see continuing.
No matter if students are going back to school or not. It just opened up so many opportunities, so much equity across the board.
Lauren, talk about some of those things Nicolle hit on, from your perspective, especially thinking a kindergarten teacher, kindergarteners, taking devices home.
What did that look like? And what were some of the lessons learned for you?
So the one thing I kind of wanted to mention was, speaking of like the band-aid thing, one thing that I feel like we kind of learned through this was just being able to connect with families. Now of course as a teacher, you’re always trying to reach out to families but there’s always a few that you can’t get a hold of. But you’re always like OK well their kids coming into school, like unfortunately there’s a breakdown but like their kid is still here and still learning but during the pandemic like, we couldn’t get a hold of some families and we didn’t know where they were quarantining. So trying to find how to get them the Chromebook, that’s what’s challenging. And I feel like we have a little bit better of a plan in place.
I mean, there were still parents and it took awhile to get in, touch with them, and we had people like our front office staff really driving to people’s houses, seeing if they were living there. We had, you know, translators. We had a lot of different resources that I think we’re going to tap into more. So now, in case, you know, knock on wood, this doesn’t happen again, but, you know, if this were to happen, again, making sure that we really can get to those students in those families quicker.
So that was like one big band data that we’ve been working on, but as far as kind of what 1 to 1 is going to look like in our future. So, right now, we’re still going to be 1 to 1 again, pre-K to 12 over the summer. Our students were allowed to keep their Chromebooks if they wanted to. They are still loaned out to them. It’s checked out to them, it’s under their account. Some parents chose to turn them back in over the summer if they didn’t want to be responsible for them, or they weren’t staying in our district. They turned them in.
But, like some of my students from this past year, they were in summer school, and in our district, it could have been in person or virtual. So they, some of them were using it for summer school. Some are using it for other things. But the incoming kindergarteners. if they were not in a preschool program in our district, they’ll get Chromebooks. They’re still trying to figure out what it will exactly look like, if it’s going to stay at school for the beginning of the year, if they’re going to be sent home. My personal preference is like the first month, like, keep it at schools, that we can teach them how to use it, and things like that. But again, like, I don’t know what the future’s going to hold, and it’s also kind of scary thinking, oh yeah, they’re going to go home one weekend, and then it could be gone for a couple of weeks, months. Trying to figure out like the best solution, but it is hard, especially with those younger students just having them carry even just the heavy backpack like those backpacks are heavy. You, know I was surprised like, Chromebooks don’t feel heavy, but you put it in a little kid’s backpack, it’s just like intense.
So yeah, there’s still some of those things you got to have to work through. And also, just like the safety piece of both the computer but the safety of the students. We have a lot of walkers like it is scary thinking that there is a five-year-old walking around with it, digital device in their backpack. So, things were still kind of ironing out.
Yeah, lots of things to think about. And you know, you’re talking about you’d hate to send students home without a device, and then they need one come Monday.
I think the lesson that many people learned 16 months ago in March 2020 was to be prepared for anything. That’s the best thing that you can do.
And you’d hate to be back at the table, handing out Chromebooks that we knew could happen. How much are variance impacting, for all of you, the plans for back to school.
A couple of months ago, everyone was excited to be returning to in person classrooms.
Really planning 100% on that, is that looking a little different right now with variance?
Lauren, you’re nodding, so you go ahead first.
I’m was just going to say our plan for right now, and, again, this could change in, you know, an hour, but the plan is that we’re still going to be completely, back to traditional school, in person. Now, our district does have, for K to 6, or pre-K to 6 an option that they could be digital, but they, that would be kind of like a separate entity, And that’s like, a full year commitment.
But the plan is that we’re in person, and, again, we’ll have 1 to 1 devices, but, fingers crossed, we won’t be on Google Meet. But we’ll kind of have to see what happens, unfortunately.
How about Caddo, Nicole?
I’m with Lauren, you know, things could change in an hour. Right now, our plan is to come back to school.
We do, like Lauren has, a kind of a virtual option for each grade level, So you know, that’s our plan.
Hopefully, it stays the same.
So, we’ve heard from the two of you, we’re going to find out what our attendees are planning for the upcoming school year. What options for learning is your district offering?
Come back to school, fully in person, remote virtual, or hybrid. You can select one or more of those.
Let’s give it five more seconds.
All right, so, our attendees, like Nicole and Lauren, are really planning on fully in person learning, getting students back into the classroom.
That’s what everyone is hoping for here, with some options for more remote and virtual or hybrid.
I think it’s worthwhile to talk about what the difference between those options is.
The hybrid versus the remote, Lauren and Nicole talked about what that looks like at their schools, but, Chris, you were explaining it really well. Tell us about that.
Yeah, so, um, and in those results of the poll, I feel are representative of the conversations, Elizabeth and I are having the schools where everybody’s really craving this going back to face-to-face learning, there’s so much that we do well in a face-to-face environment, however, we are seeing that there are some schools that are, there are some families who’ve said, you know, this online learning thing really works for me, and for my family. So, there are schools now, ramping up their efforts to be able to provide more and more of these fully virtual options. You know, so you have kids coming back face-to-face. You have some families and kids choosing to be fully online, and there are some schools that are doing this hybrid thing.
And what I mean by that is, they’re giving kids some options of, you can take some face-to-face courses and some online courses, or, and there are some pieces of this, still where there’s conversation allowing some students to come in only for the face-to-face courses that they need, and that may mean only two days a week.
I think those options are in the minority, just because they’re difficult to do unless you have a structure built like that. Like Elizabeth has a school where she’s working, where she has that kind of a hybrid option built-in, that’s just part of their DNA.
But, um, you know, I think, what schools have realized, however, is that we need to be prepared for anything.
So, while they have these different options, there’s something in the back of their minds, you know, the school leaders minds at saying, you know. Things could change again.
And, up to this point, they’ve been having these conversations about, are we going to have masks required or not masks?
Now with the more recent announcements coming from the CDC, I can only imagine the stressed, stressful conversations that are going on in the school districts at this point, but to the point that was made earlier, know the variants and, you know, it’s unknown what things are going to look like.
I know for a fact that school leaders are thinking that we need to be prepared to go back fully digital, so those other options, the hybrid and the online, they’re very much on the table to increase, as the year moves on.
I was going to hand it to you Elizabeth so great, jump right in.
Sorry, I get, you know how I am Amy, I get excited. I was just going to say it seems like what we’re seeing because we had we encountered all of those different sorts of models previously, right? Like hybrid, you know, in person, different degrees of virtual.
It seems like what we’re seeing now is schools and districts wanting help with making those work together in some way so that the student, from the student perspective, they can have a consistent cohesive experience of learning within the school, across those settings, right? So they can transition somehow, from a virtual model to a hybrid model. To in person, without total disruption, which is what we experience. But, you know, we did all of them, but we did them kind of sequentially.
This is a more concurrent model that I hope is emerging, at least, that’s some of the requests that we’ve had from schools and districts have been held to help them build something that truly flexes across all of that.
And kind of leaning in I would say to that to both the need for flexibility at an individual student level, realizing that family dynamics might change, that students are impacted differently by pandemic.
And so that flexibility piece that Chris talked about was huge.
But then also, I think the, um, kind of like, really leaning into blended, this idea that, hey, what a student needs from us, the amount of time they need on campus.
It may not need to fit into the model of five days a week, eight o’clock to four o’clock.
We know that the traditional model that has really been locked up for so long, got blown apart last year, and there is resistance to, like, just putting it back together and being like, oh, this is, this is what we go back to. Right?
We’re seeing a lot more variation, and what people are coming up with, which is actually great, because it’s looking at more student-centered learning.
It’s something that businesses are looking at to, right?
This is what everyone has experienced, And as Chris said, that hybrid blended is the hardest.
Are you seeing it more for upper grades, or does it work for Laurens kindergarteners?
I mean, I’ve seen it work for, not Lauren’s kindergarteners specifically, but others. In fact, some of the coolest and cutest models that would have been about, like, how do you construct a learning experience? But engaging for a kindergartener, that’s a virtual or hybrid one.
And the ones that we’ve seen that have been most successful are kind of, to go back to your point, Nicole, in a different way.
That community piece has been really huge. And using their experience has been really huge.
So, I mean, you can construct models that really invite them to, you know, like, go into your kitchen, get these five things. And now, we’re all doing experiments for science.
So, I taught first and second grade in the classroom. So, it’s a really, it’s a place I get really excited about. So, we know that it can happen, that we’ve seen it happen effectively.
But, you know, to go back to what people, what we’re seeing at a bigger level, And, Chris, you know, those school-within-a-school models are really what’s coming out.
Realizing that we want to keep our students and families connected, they’re part of our learning community, even if their need is really different, right? So, we don’t just want to be, like, we’re only offering in person.
Most people are trying to offer something else to their families as another Option B at hybrid, or be it completely virtual, and the demand, though, what we’re seeing, just the sweeping generalizations from families, tends to be middle school to high school.
Most families are more excited to be sending their younger learners to be in person then, to have that socialization. So, and I don’t know if that, Lauren or Nicole, if that kind of, if you’re seeing that as well.
Yes, we did for sure, but we had our elementary going full-time, K-5. And then 6-8 had a hybrid model. They met face-to-face four days a week, they were virtual on Friday, and they loved it, like, it was, it was really great for them.
That’s what we saw, and I don’t know the full plans for what we’re going to do this upcoming school year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was an option, again, because they really did like that.
You’re nodding, Lauren, How about how about for your kindergarteners?
Yeah, so this past year, our whole district, now they sectioned off who was going to go in person, kind of like first and transitioned us, and but we did do hybrid it about March pretty much, a year, after we closed, we came and did hybrid, and, you know, definitely was definitely challenging.
But I do think that a lot of families, for this upcoming year are choosing the in person.
I had a couple of students that or my kindergarteners last year and they’re going into first grade that are going to do the Virtual School.
Due to more so, like, health concerns, like their own child had like health concerns, but I think a big piece with the younger grades, is the childcare piece. Like, you need to have somebody with them and rightfully so. Yeah, no, five-year-old should be left by themselves, and I think that’s a big part, too, is just the families not being able to stay home, not that they don’t want to, but they just can’t stay home with their kids. Whereas, in middle and high school, they can be a little more independent.
They can be by themselves easier than again a 4 or 5, 6 years old.
You can do a lot over Zoom and Google Meet but not babysit, five year olds, right? We have gotten a few questions in Lauren.
People wanted to know how you made it work with, with those young students, Tools, tricks, tips.
How do you keep a five-year-old engaged in learning on a computer screen?
Well, the first thing I want to say, because I know a lot of people think, oh, kindergarten, like this must have been like awful. Like, that’s going to be crazy. I feel like the special thing about kindergarten is that it’s their first year being in school. Like, yes, we have, some kids come from preschool, yes, they’re in childcare, but it’s their first year of full-time, you know, seven hours, five days a week school. So I feel like, for my students, they didn’t know what they were missing, because it’s all day there are new, was Google Meet. Now I’m not saying that’s a great thing.
But I feel like they, still had our first year of school. It just was not what their siblings had. So I don’t think it was much of a, I feel like every time I go on Twitter, or, you know, you see on social media, everyone’s like, oh, kindergarteners had the worst time, and I’m like, but they didn’t like, they truly didn’t know anything else.
And for me, and I feel like for my district to, like we were very intentional with how we were doing our teaching. Like for me, I was still teaching the same stuff. We still use the same reading, curriculum, our same math curriculum. It just was digital, so like, yes, we are digital tools, So it’s a little bit not as hands-on, which I did very much miss, and we tried the best. We could to make those hands-on things. We tried to say, OK, like, get a journal, get a dry erase board. You can’t always guarantee that a student would have that.
But I think for me, that’s what still made this year a normal year, for lack of a better word, because they still weren’t getting kindergarten curriculum, they still were meeting each other, They I mean, they were amazing this year, like they would unmute themselves. They would talk. I would put a timer on when we were transitioning, and they would just talk with each other. I feel like our community was almost even stronger, just because, like, we saw their siblings, we saw their pets. We saw mom and dad, grandma, like, we would, just, we met their families where, in a traditional way, we might not up, because, again, a lot of families work, and they can’t come in. They can’t hear what the teacher’s saying. They can’t.
They don’t know how we’re explaining stuff. I mean, then, it goes back into the whole, you know, common core discussion of families not knowing what the standards look like.
And as much as we can do, you know, back to school nights, we can do those meetings, having parents, just hearing what we’re saying.
I feel like I had such a really good relationship with my families, with my students this year, that I hope to transfer into future years.
And to go back to everyone’s question about like, the tools, like, honestly, we use pretty much similar tools that I do in the classroom, but we still kept having those movement breaks. I almost feel like it was easier for me to be like, OK, I see that we’re getting wiggly. Let’s put on a go noodle. Let’s do What would you rather? Would you rather do this? Then you’re doing jumping jacks? Would you rather do this and we’re doing you know squats? Whereas in my classroom If I want to put on a Go Noodle it’s like, OK, now going to hook up my projector, got to plug the cord in and then it takes, you know three extra minutes, you know, then the kids are rolling on the floor.
I mean, it was just being kind of intentional what we were doing, but also, again, just having fun with them. Like, I had stuffed animals next to me. My dog would come in, like, it was just, it was still a fun time.
I love how you’re highlighting so many of the positives, So many of the things you got out of this experience that you wouldn’t have before, that peak, into students’ lives.
A new way of understanding, like them as whole people with their families, and their pets, and all of that around them.
We hear a really similar thing on a topic, I want to make sure to hit on, because it comes up all the time, which is student safety, mental health, those concerns.
Because when we weren’t seeing students in person, it was easy to be worried. Like, I’m not getting that face time, I’m not walking down the hall past the counselor.
But what a lot of schools have seen is that technology and tools give them additional insight that probably, it’s best altogether, but it’s another view that schools have. Nicole, I know you guys have experienced a ton about this. Tell us tell us what that looks like for you at Caddo.
Well, I can say, March 2020 brought a whole lot of student safety concerns to us. We had the normal amount that everybody else has, I guess.
And when everybody went home, we saw an uptick of things with our student safety system.
We had to talk to a lot of students, get a lot of students connected with counselors because they were not coming to school every day.
And some of the things that they would say is, there’s, I can’t see anyone, I’m stuck in this house with no one, but the mom and the dad, the dog, and the brother and I don’t like my brother and, you know, I just want to go see my friends.
And, so we saw, I couldn’t even give you a good percentage, but it was a lot higher than normal.
We think the fact that our students were able to have devices at home with them, and our students system was able to pick up on actions that they were, things that they were typing, or saying, or writing, things that they were Googling and looking for, really helped us.
I think without our move toward 1 to 1, I think we could have had some catastrophic events happen in our community. Did I answer your question?
Yeah, you did and you’re talking about kind of monitoring some of this activity that was very concerning. We’ve all read the articles about mental health crisis, just sort of escalating under the pandemic for adults and for kids through isolation and depression and all of those things.
I’m curious if you Experience something that ties to what Lauren was saying, where you take that information and reach out to parents and it does build stronger connections and community in that that can be a positive.
We did, we had to reach out to a lot of parents. We connected a lot it, like I said, a lot of counselors were connected to, a lot of students. And they were able to kind of keep up with them and, and, you know, talk with them daily or weekly or whatever it is that they set up.
That also prompted us to go ahead and get another social emotional learning program in place for next year. So, this next school year, our students will have 20 minutes a day in a new program with social emotional learning.
Because we, you know, they’re what we’re about, you know, we come for them.
And so, we want to keep them safe, and we want to make sure that we can do everything in order to make that happen.
So, that’s one thing that our little safety system did prompt, is for us to do that.
As we kind of come into our last 10, 15 minutes here, thinking about where we started, which is all of these devices, now, what?
And one of the themes that resonated through all of the answers is we have the devices, but you need to take some steps back and think about why you have them, what your goals are.
All of those things, moving into what we hope is an in person school year, But who knows, and we’re ready for anything.
I want to hear one bit of advice that everyone has for schools, whether you’re looking at using devices or taking care of mental health, or any of those topics that we hit on.
And I haven’t heard from Chris for a while. So we’re going to start with you.
Hi, Amy. Thank you. So, one bit of advice.
I would say that, for school leaders in particular, that the goal of bringing a lot of technology into your school district, and implementing a 1 to 1 program, for example, is not to have the devices. It’s to have a tool to get you somewhere else, and we think about what we’re doing here in education, we’re trying to accomplish, is, we’re trying to reach every kid, right?
And we’re trying to allow kids to grow and move in ways that actually works for them. There’s a lot of different learning styles out there. A lot of different interests, different passions, and a lot of different personal goals.
School leaders have been trying for years, and it’s becoming more and more reality and we hear more and more, about personalizing learning.
And the, the development, or the implementation of a 1 to 1 initiative is like a precursor for doing just that. It opens up so many doors and provides a lot more options to be able to allow voice and choice for kids.
But then also, for teachers and all the other adults, to actually use student data to drive some of the instruction and help students own their own education, you know, and forging different individualized pathways. So, just remember that it’s a tool, right.
And, um, where we’ve seen schools stall out in a lot of ways with technology.
They bring a 1 to 1 initiative into their district, but they focus on the technology and how to use the devices. Yes, that’s important, but why? So, one of the things that I would recommend is, as you move forward, and you’re providing professional development for teachers, focus on the pedagogy and the instructional goals.
And then the technology pieces will, will fall into it, not necessarily focusing on just how to use all the technology, how to use it for instruction.
That’s great advice.
Thinking about all the inspiration Chris had there, Lauren, let’s take it to the classroom. We have a bunch of teachers listening in here.
What, what would you recommend to them?
I would say, honestly, like start small, like even when we were fully virtual, I really besides like the Google Meet, I was only really using three different like digital resources with my students. So not to just like name drop things but you know I use Pear Deck. I use, we had Wixy and I also use Jamboard, where my three that I want to select. I would specifically teach one of them, and we would use them for multiple weeks on different things. And then I would give students the choice. Do you want to do this on a Jamboard,or do you want to do it on a Wixy? And I feel like, moving forward, I still plan to do that, but then also have the in person, like, you can make this poster with crayons and markers. But if you don’t want to do that, you can do it on mixing. That’s fine. I don’t care, you’re still showing me you’re understanding. So, yes, you’re going to have the digital tools that, I love technology, but don’t feel like you have to learn every single possible thing and your students don’t need to kind of think very small.
Think about, you know, what is something that my students would enjoy, but also something that like my students can use independently at some point.
So, again, my kindergarteners were able to login to Wixy, create their own poster on there, or again, I plan to have my students choose, Do you just want to use a pencil on paper? Go for it, like, that’s perfectly fine.
So, start small and don’t blame yourself or judge yourself if you’re like, oh, we’re only using technology once or twice. Like, that’s fine. They don’t need it all the time.
They don’t need it, never. But they also don’t need it. You know. Again, eight hours a day was not appropriate by no stretch of the imagination.
I love how for the last 50 minutes you have talked so much about choice that you are giving your students in the activity they do to get their wiggles out or in in the tool they are using to accomplish a task.
And I think that’s really great advice, starting small and using technology as one of those tools that you can empower kindergarteners with or they can choose a different tool if it works better.
That’s great advice. How about you Liz? What advice you have for our attendees today?
Oh, well, just, yes. So, to kind of connect what Lauren and Chris were saying, the technology is not the, you know, it’s not an end in and of itself. It’s what lets us do this work of choice and personalization at scale, right?
It’s what allows Lauren to like reach out to and connect with all of those kindergarteners in the different ways that they need her to do that. So for me, I think it goes back to knowing me, you’ve heard me say before, like, the relationship is at the center.
Right, the technology is: what kind of allows those relationships to be built and sustained across virtual or hybrid blended or in person instruction.
So, I think still is your, I would just say, for school district leaders and state leaders, as you’re thinking of kind of instructional recommendations, be thinking about what the technology, what do you want the technology to do? What does technology good at?
And then let’s make sure that it is allowing time for the humans to do all of the amazing things that humans are good at.
Like getting to know each other and connect and keeping those sustained learning relationships happening, because that really is, I think, the sweet spot, right? That’s the goal.
That’s what we want to be seeing across is these things both working together to bring the best of both worlds.
Nicole, as an instructional technologist, you really are sitting there between those two things, right?
You, you’re thinking about the technology, but always for how is it shaping and enhancing teaching and learning? How can we integrate it effectively?
So, what? what is your advice for our attendees here today?
I mean, how long do we have, know?
For us, number one is, we have to, as an instructional technologist, or our department had to make sure that we had the time and the patience to actually sit and teach all of our teachers, all of these new tools.
Because we didn’t just have to give out devices. We had to go get an LMS.
We set up an LMS in six weeks. I mean, it was fast.
We had to teach every teacher, how to use it. How to create a course, and how to do everything that’s associated with it.
And, so, be patient, you know, be patient.
Everyone does not learn at the same rate, you know, we all learn in different ways. Just like our babies in the classroom, so, you know, be patient with everyone and make sure you have enough time before you just throw something at them.
And then, another thing is, we now have to work on maintaining, sustaining what we’ve gotten, you know, we have all these brand-new devices.
So now we need to start looking at buyback programs because we want to be able to maintain them and sustain them because you know, what we saw before was we had a lot of things that we needed to refresh.
So we’ve got to get plans in place to do that kind of stuff to make sure that, in three years, our stuff still works. You know, our devices still work, and we can still use them.
So that would kind of, on a instructional technology level, be my advice.
You talked in there about professional development and it sparked a question to come in, tell us what your professional development looked like last summer versus this summer? Were you in person? Are you doing that remote?
How are you getting all of those teachers ready for what’s next?
So we had just a few in person trainings last summer.
The vast majority of them were done over Zoom.
And someone talked earlier about all the boxes that come in with all the people.
And your login like 100 people, going, you know, on Zoom, that’s kind of hard to do, but what we’re doing now is through our LMS, we are, we’ve created self-paced courses.
So we did a survey, hey, what do you need?
And we’ve created self-paced courses for everything that a teacher could need.
And of course, over the year, over the last 16 months, we’ve created video after video, after video, we have a YouTube channel where they can just go and click on their topic and click on a two-minute video of something.
But for professional development, we’re mainly doing self-paced courses through our LMS.
Great, thank you. Well, know that perfect, Lauren, we have a question for you.
Were you having your kindergarteners on screen and sharing video the whole day? What did you do when they turn them off? How did you do a mix of that? You talked about, I think it was Google Meet.
So, when we started this school year, it was a little bit of less time on the computer, It still was a pretty good amount. There were breaks between, like within the day, so we started like whole group, and then we would have math.
And then we would have like whole group reading time, and then we’d have reading groups. So, there was, you know, off screen time where they had independent activities, part of our reading curriculum had stories they can listen to online, that can read online. So, there was a lot of breaks.
But when we did trenches transition into hybrid, we were pretty solid online for a good, like six hours. There were again little breaks, there was lunch and recess, But like related arts was online.
I mean, it was you were having real school you just kind of chained to the computer unfortunately.
Which was a big, there was a lot of pushback from teachers and from the student standpoint to, luckily, when we were in hybrid, the kids that were in person with us, we were able to get them even more screen breaks because, like I could project on the screen, I know that’s still not a complete scream break, but at least they weren’t, you know, 10 inches from the screen. But that’s what we’re looking forward to this year of not having part. But, yeah, that was a huge, negative side to this, but it wasn’t a lot of screen time.
The comments you made about hybrid are really interesting, because you had some students, then, in the classroom and some online, and the students in the classroom were looking at their devices, right?
So you’re, you’re teaching to everyone at once, but you have students in different locations, this is why Chris said it’s the hardest of the model, I’m sure, um, if you have to go hybrid in the fall, is that the same model that you’re planning, or, or do you know yet?
I don’t know. I mean, I really think that the whole focus and planning right now, it’s just, like completely in person. And then also having that digital model. I would assume if we did have to do some sort of hybrid, whether it be a snow day, or, again, if it gets, you know, extreme again, or even more extreme, I should say, I would assume it would have to go back to that, the reason we were, this year, like this, was because they didn’t want to change teachers. Because that wasn’t one of the other thoughts was, oh, like, I could teach the virtual kids, and then Nicole would have the in person kids. But then, you already had those connections with your teacher, they didn’t want to switch kids around. So, that was a big kind of obstacle. We had a workaround.
Yeah. I mean, we’re going to be ready for anything. We’re going to be flexible, that’s one of the other things that has come up a lot.
Liz, I’m going to let you leave us with some parting thoughts here on on what that hybrid, what you recommend to schools, if they’re looking at hybrid, and how to make it really work, I know you have experience working with schools aren’t exactly that.
Right, well, so what we’ve actually seen is people are interested in blended, right, in different ways of having students on campus and virtual, but the hope is, at least so far in our conversations, and Chris jump in if I misrepresent.
It has not been, I hope to not have the concurrent model going where the teacher is having to engage across, you know, across both students that are in person and students that are at home and feedback from teachers and families where it was kind of suboptimal for everybody.
It didn’t really leverage any of the affordances of technology, except that we were able to do it and keep things going and it kept some consistency with relationships and schedules.
And I mean, there were reasons that we went into that. So I would suggest, as we’re looking ahead, thinking of hybrid, not necessarily as that we call it bridged instruction was one of the terms that we’ve heard right.
Not having the teacher be that bridge necessarily between the home instruction and the in-school instruction and trying to find creative ways now that we have time, that luxury, that we didn’t have right of blending rather than bridging, if that makes sense.
We are at the end of our hour. It has flown by. Thank you to all of our panelists for great insights and advice. Thank you to all of our attendees for listening and contributing your questions.
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Thank you, everybody. Have a great day.