Over the past few evenings, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of candidates for our open positions at our school. We have met candidates with a great deal of experience and varied backgrounds, and we’ve met educators who are within the first five years of their career. What is remarkably different this year is the vast number of educators who, through either their own choice in late August or as a result of a late fall reorganization, have found themselves teaching students whose families have selected full remote as their learning model. Last spring, potential candidates could have drawn from their experiences as an Emergency Online educator, where the expectation was to provide 5 hours per week of asynchronous learning opportunities ~ a very different experience.
For the interview, candidates were asked to share an artefact that represents something that they are most proud of. For our educators who have been teaching remotely, their artefacts and the accompanying narratives were impressive to say the least. We learned how one educator’s class created nature watercolours, which caught the attention of our Environmental Educator and led to a display at Museum London. We learned how one educator has created online play groups for her Kindergarten students and extended their intentional teaching time from 5 min to 40 min, with full engagement. We learned how so many of these educators effectively and masterfully created classroom environments where students demonstrate trust, respect, and kindness for each other. There were examples of students playing traditional board games from their house with their online classmates. These educators were able to identify the need for students to “turn off the screens” and get outside for some meaningful learning. We learned how students very capably and naturally gravitated towards a variety of Apps to demonstrate their learning and how these educators embraced digital platforms to provide feedback and meaningful next steps. We learned how they overcame access to quality texts without access to school libraries. The idea of equity became something real to acknowledge and address. Time and time again, these educators expressed that they had to “listen” to students more intently than when they were in person and in turn create more choice in instruction, activities, and assessment.
At the end of each interview, my admin partner and myself “tipped our hats” to these educators for the remarkable feat that they have successfully accomplished this year. When we were growing up and pretending to play school, none of us imagined this world. We didn’t set up our dolls in front of a computer screen and pretend to teach them. And yet, these educators have made it work. In the midst of a pandemic, they have created classroom environments where students want to log on each morning, where students can’t wait to share, where students are uniquely demonstrating their learning and where students feel loved and cared for.
Kudos to each educator who has been teaching remotely since September and to those educators who have pivoted (yes, I selected to use that term) from in-person to remote, to in-person and now back to remote!
I can’t help but wonder if there are some “future” educators who are now setting up their dolls in front of a monitor and playing “remote” teacher.
Are you teaching remotely this year? Would love to hear about your experience.
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