Kids learning in a laboratory
Learning during COVID

Educator Insights

Navigating the 2020 – 2021 School Year

7 minutes

During the summer, the Bosch Community Fund checked in with educators from several school districts to gain a better understanding of their remote learning experience during the COVID 19 outbreak. We asked three questions pertaining to resources, tools, insights and hopes for the new school year to share with fellow educators and parents. We compiled their thoughtful responses and hope this information will be interesting, and perhaps, useful as we navigate a challenging school year.

Kelly Newton

Kelly Newton

I am hopeful that students will stay healthy and safe.

Kelly Newton

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offer creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

Some faculty who have been resistant to using technology to facilitate their teaching will be more likely to embrace their newer teaching practices. I hope that my students will continue to learn and develop self-management skills. I am also hoping kids will learn about intrinsic motivation, feeling good about accomplishing a goal rather than getting a prize at school.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

I am hopeful that students will stay healthy and safe. I am hopeful all children will connect with their teachers in an equitable, and kind environment. I am hopeful my students will learn as much as they can. I am hopeful we can (when it is safe) get back into the classroom. I hope we can have our robotics team meetings again. I hope education will change in a good, powerful, and more equitable world.

Rob Cupit

Rob Cupit

Teachers are discovering a more efficient and fun way to teach the content they have already mastered.

Rob Cupit

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offer creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

I know this may sound obvious but YouTube has been my learning tool for years. In class, we have been live streaming and recording our lessons almost daily. The students value self-pacing and the ability to revisit skills that they may have struggled with during the initial instruction. My personal research led me down the path of making my streams and recordings interesting and visually appealing for students. I have created a YouTube Channel specifically for teaching. I know for some it may seem overwhelming to learn how to stream and record but let me reassure you that you can take it as far as you would like. I would start simply by looking into how to start a YouTube channel. After you get comfortable with that I would dive into streaming and recording using software like OBS. Inside this software, you can learn how to record your computer screen while recording yourself via webcam. You can then use things like overlays and animations. The possibilities are endless!

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

To be honest, I think the biggest potential opportunity is to have everyone advance to the digital age. Whether it be in the classroom or human resources documentation, I think everyone involved should take the time to learn the value of the digital world we live in. This will create a more efficient way of learning and performing simple tasks. The differentiation opportunities for everyone using remote learning or digital resources are endless.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

Teachers are discovering a more efficient and fun way to teach the content they have already mastered. Remote learning can teach a lot of teachers and students new and exciting ways to teach and learn content. Hopefully, it will show the endless possibilities and advantages of digital learning.

Nathan Moger

Nathan Moger

I hope we can take advantage of online learning …

Nathan Moger

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offers creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

Probably my favorite online learning resource is Khan Academy. It's high-quality, interactive, rigorous, and completely free. There are tutorials and exercises on a wide variety of topics, and they've recently released an app called Khan Academy Kids that features fundamental reading instruction and practice.

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

Online learning offers students more opportunity to pursue their interests; students don't need to follow what's dictated by a teacher or curriculum. They can pursue their own interests. This will allow students to investigate their native interests and talents to a higher degree. If you're willing to do some research, you can learn about nearly any topic or practice online for little or no cost. And developing the ability to seek out this freely available information is a valuable meta-skill.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

I hope we can take advantage of online learning, but also see how it's not a great solution for many students, especially younger students. They need to play with kids, and see the faces of their friends and teachers directly, without the intermediation of a screen.

Camilla Erion

Camilla Erion

I am hopeful that students not only will learn but also will be inspired to direct their own learning outside of school.

Camilla Erion

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offers creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

My favorite way to engage with students is with a Google Meet. The virtual face-to-face provides a way to develop relationships with students. I had a student tell me during eLearning that her favorite part of the day was our Google Meets. I love EdPuzzle to engage students with online content and help them to evaluate their understanding as they use it. I also like to present practice in an engaging way by assigning a Quizlet or a Kahoot.

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

The greatest opportunity for teaching in the upcoming year is in virtual school. I am delighted to say that I will be teaching middle school math virtually! Greenville County Schools is showing leadership by developing a virtual program which can continue once the pandemic ends and will appeal to a variety of students and families.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

I am hopeful that students not only will learn but also will be inspired to direct their own learning outside of school. Everyone likes to learn and I want students to develop skills so that they can learn on their own throughout their lives.

Debra Workman

Debra Workman

Let’s not blow our second chance!

Debra Workman

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offers creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

A. The most important tip is to keep lines of communication open.

  • Parents don’t hesitate to ask for more details regarding an assignment if you are unclear how to help your child or for a progress update regarding your child’s performance during hybrid learning.
  • Teachers consider creating and sharing videos specifically for your parents that provide an overview for the upcoming week or an explanation of how to complete an assignment online or how the parents can best communicate with you.

B. Most schools are using Google Classroom and many parents, and some students, are having difficulties navigating it. The following is a link that provides a Google Classroom Cheat Sheet for students but I think it would also be helpful to parents.

C. I found the following article helpful to me, as both a parent and teacher

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

The greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education this coming year is that teachers have the opportunity to revive their old, non-living documents and transform them into living documents that adapt to the changing needs of our students to better prepare them for the 21st century. As we navigate through this “new normal” in education, we have to be more flexible and willing to teach differently in order to meet the varying needs of our students and their families.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

I am hopeful that the year 2020 will prove to be the year that all education stakeholders are able to use their 20/20 vision to clearly see how to transform the South Carolina Educational System into one that meets the needs of all its students. Shutdowns and closings, due to this pandemic, have cleared away all of the distractions that took our focus away from ensuring that every child is given the best opportunity to learn and achieve excellence in school. Now that we can clearly see the gaps and pitfalls in our system, we should all be held accountable to do our part to make sure that the year 2020 does not end the same way that it started. Let’s not blow our second chance!

Jeffrey Nye

Jeffrey Nye

I hope that the transition to hybrid and eLearning models can help with the transition to more student based learning.

Jeffrey Nye

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offers creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

A few of my favorite resources for review are Quizlet and Quizizz. These are free programs that turn the review process into more of a game. Quizlet is better with vocabulary, while Quizizz is best for actual questions. There are numerous review games already set up, so teachers and parents only need to search for the topic they want and don't need to make their own review games to get started. For my IB (International Baccalaureate) Biology class, I like to use Bio Ninja. The site details all of the content for the IB Biology course and even includes slides, worksheets, and cheat sheets for most units.

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

I think the greatest opportunity for the upcoming year is innovation. It can be easy to fall into a pattern once materials and lesson plans have already been set up, but the transition to eLearning forces teachers to reevaluate what they have done in the past. I have gone back and turned some traditional labs into take-home kits so that the student is still able to get the same lab experience, but it is more flexible for the students. There are also changes to previous class activities that will make them more hands-on, which will hopefully be more engaging and lead to a better understanding of the content.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

I hope that the transition to hybrid and eLearning models can help with the transition to more student based learning. The traditional lecture model doesn't cut it in the virtual world and has its struggles in the physical world with engagement and content retention. The virtual learning models will force myself and other teachers into leaning on the more student focused lessons, which should help students better learn and retain content. The increased transition to student focused learning will not be easy, but it will definitely payoff for students and teachers in the future.

Sarah Schemanske

Sarah Schemanske

I am excited to see how the learning and teaching processes change.

Sarah Schemanske

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offer creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

We are very fortunate to have resources provided by both the district and PLTW to help navigate online learning. There is a lot of really great collaboration among teachers to craft lessons that integrate best teaching practices, key vocabulary, and content for students and include opportunities for students to learn through engagement and exploration.

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

We have the opportunity to redefine education. Our district is doing an excellent job of reimagining education and using this time to improve instructional practices and methods for all students. The district is thinking critically about how to optimize learning time and put supports and structures in place that will engage, scaffold, and promote success for all student learners.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

I am hopeful for the opportunity to have teachers, students, and families be more reflective upon the learning process and how we can think of innovative ways to better engage students and make it more accommodating to students' needs. I am excited to see how the learning and teaching processes change. I am hopeful collaboration among colleagues will be a priority and create stronger learning opportunities for students.

Diana Gordan

Diana Gordan

I am excited to see how the learning and teaching processes change.

Diana Gordan

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offer creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

Yes, I have resources I will share with parents, students, and fellow teachers as we navigate our new challenges in education.

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

The most significant potential opportunity in teaching and education for this upcoming school year is to give my students an exciting, fun, and educational online or face-to-face experience that will develop into life skills. Their problem-solving skills will be exceptional as they work through their online and hybrid learning.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

I am hopeful for equity. I wish all students to have the materials and tools they will need to be successful with online learning. The best learning experience includes a computer per student, fast Internet service, support from parents and teachers, and physical materials required, such as paper, pencils, calculators, a ruler, etc. I am also hopeful that this entire pandemic learning experience promotes growth for patience, understanding, empathy, and confidence.

James Luxon

James Luxon

The pandemic has brought clarity about many things …

James Luxon

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offer creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

I think the best resource we have to navigate online learning is each other. Best practices in elementary classroom education were created by observing teachers and students and learning what techniques are most engaging and motivating for students. In the distance learning environment, I personally have learned the most by working beside my 7-year-old as he participated in online instruction. Observing his first-grade teacher and primary art teacher try creative and thoughtful approaches to engage students has helped me improve my instruction. I have also seen lessons they have tried that did not work as well. Teachers trying new things, observing, and learning from each other is going to be crucial to improve distance and hybrid learning.

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

To engage students, relationships are more important than ever. The online environment allows educators more opportunity for one-on-one feedback and discussions. I think educators have a chance to better tap into what interests and motivates their students.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

The pandemic has brought clarity about many things, one of those has been the importance of schools and public education.

Josh Nichols

Josh Nichols

For those that embrace the challenge and figure it out, their teachers and students will flourish.

Josh Nichols

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offers creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

Through our partnership with the Bosch Foundation and GoPro, we created a repository of hands-on lessons - complete with videos and supporting materials - that students can do either in the classroom or at home. Those lessons can be found here: https://lessons.crossbraining.com/lessons

For users of the CrossBraining platform, those lessons can be imported into the app with a single click.

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

The greatest opportunity is the accelerated discovery of both the limits and potential of technology. This adoption was supposed to take decades, but now it’s taking months. And everyone is finding that that technology can be a transformational and disruptive educational tool, but it must be backed by good pedagogy.

For those that embrace the challenge and figure it out, their teachers and students will flourish.

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education?

We’re hopeful that educators will emerge from this challenge stronger and better than they were before. They will find new and innovative tools while discarding the old and tired ones. Assessment is an excellent example. We’ll be forced to find new ways to assess students for the next year, and we’re hopeful that in doing so educators will find new and better methods of assessment that will become the new normal.

Sara Melton

Sara Melton

The opportunity for students to feel empowered by their own learning journey is at hand!

Sara Melton

Do you have resources (i.e. website link, mentor, role model, etc.) that offers creative solutions or tips you can share with parents or fellow teachers as they navigate online and/or hybrid learning?

When I talk to parents right now, I am sure to encourage them to find out in what way their local library is open during the shutdown. Having actual books in the hands of our kids is so important during this heightened time of technology. It is also important to be sure to understand the platform on which your child’s school is tracking attendance and assignments. Most schools offer learning sessions to be sure parents are as informed as they can be – so take advantage of all you can!

In your opinion, what is the greatest potential opportunity in teaching and education for the coming school year?

There is tremendous potential for all educators to “rebalance” their approach to teaching and learning. Instructional time matters more than ever before, and teachers are working feverishly to create the best face-to-face and online lessons possible. Teachers who were once hesitant to leverage classroom technology have begun innovating and experimenting with online tools, resources and pedagogies. We are drawing on the best of both worlds to integrate and create better learning experiences for students. This is really exciting!

What are you hopeful for as it relates to education? The current education environment sets us up for a dynamic shift in ownership of learning.

The opportunity for students to feel empowered by their own learning journey is at hand! My hope is that we see a shift from “My teacher said I have to do this” to “I have to show what I know!”.

Share this on: