What will learning look like in my classroom this year? Will all of my students even be in front of me? How will I ensure growth across content areas after four months of virtual learning? Will students be able to learn with masks, barriers, and individual desks spread out to every square inch of the classroom? The answers to these questions, teachers across America have lost countless nights of sleep over. As teachers, we have positively come to realize...not only have students been learning, but they have been doing so joyfully!
Passionate teachers are reimagining ways to access the curriculum. Writing conferences are being done through online discussion boards on a learning management system. Writers can get positive and constructive feedback on their writing pieces from their peers and teachers in the form of comments, videos, pictures, and even voice notes! We’ve come to realize that due to their extensive background in navigating technology, it has prepared them to elevate their learning this year. Students are able to share their knowledge in more innovative ways than ever before; students can virtually collaborate on research projects by co-designing Instagram posts to capture and caption their findings or create a Buncee to share their discoveries! These are just a few of the exciting ways students are sharing their work.
Teachers are finding new ways to make connections to grow as lifelong learners. Twitter allows teachers to set up a Professional Learning Network where they can communicate with other teachers and authors from around the world. It is through this platform where Baldwin teachers came across the wonderful tool of ASSISTments. This program allows teachers to use math data to drive and differentiate their instruction for diverse learners. Students can begin to internalize their personal math goals so that they can take academic risks due to the immediate feedback component. Additionally, Twitter also gives parents a window into the incredible things happening in the classroom. They can view pictures and videos from throughout the school day. This allows for yet another connection to the positive experiences that are happening in our schools.
Each week, our classes participate in restorative justice circles during our Social and Emotional Learning periods; each child has the opportunity to participate in a community conversation where every voice is heard. When posed with the question, What brings you joy?, a majority of the students shared how happy and thankful they are that they get to be in school. In moments like these, teachers realize the power of connection between a student and a teacher. It’s this palpable social-emotional connection that allows students to have shared conversations on growth mindset, hope, strengths, grit, and happiness. Students and teachers truly have a newfound appreciation for being in the classroom.
With this in mind, teachers are breaking barriers beyond the four walls of their classroom. Since social networking is the new norm among teachers and students, Baldwin and Lynbrook students were able to collaborate on a Social Emotional Lesson. After reading I am Peace by Susan Verde, students participated in a virtual discussion about how they can practice mindfulness in their everyday lives. All students were thrilled to make their own mindfulness glitter jar that allows them to practice calming their thoughts, feelings, and emotions when needed. It is evident that experiential learning with joy is a lesson that’s never forgotten.
Want to get in touch with the writers? Find them on Twitter!
Lauren Maywald: @LaurenMaywald
Jessica Ryan: @MrsJessicaRyan