The “Pivot” Online

Like everyone else in higher education, I’m preparing to shift my face to face course to a distance learning model. I’m not calling it an online course because it takes me months to prepare an online course. This will happen in a week and it will be imperfect.

This course is required for future early childhood teachers and it focuses on inclusion. There is a CAEP required assessment in it that is dependent on their field experiences (two full days each week in. K-3 classrooms). The additional assessment activities I include are our Learning Logs (already housed in Google Docs) and our book club (Troublemakers by Carla Shalaby). That’s it – we’ve already established that I am an ungrader and you can go here, here, and here to read more about that.

Teacher preparation is relatively unique because we have multiple accountability structures. We are required to collect data on student mastery of key concepts. This will be my focus for the remainder of this big adventure. So here is how I am approaching the pivot online, maybe it will be helpful for you as well.

  1. I created a Slack channel #surviving-lockdown and invited all 62 students across two sections to join.
  2. I am pushing back book club two weeks so everyone can get their books from dorms and sorority houses they can not yet access (we’re currently still on Spring Break so I have a little wiggle room). When we’re ready, I will create channels in Slack for the book clubs to meet (synchronously or asynchronously, the groups will decide).
  3. We have covered the first three sections of the key assessment already so I am creating mini-lessons with a short podcast and guided PPT to walk them through the how to of writing good goals and objectives.
  4. We will continue to work in our Learning Logs to document our learning and to communicate privately.
  5. I have a fictional case study ready to go for the set of students who have had complications in identifying a student in their placement. This allows them to still get the practice even if they are unable to get back to their classrooms any time soon (our public schools are closed until April 3, as of now).
  6. Those who have enough data already will push those forward. We will focus on giving each other peer and Jen feedback consistently from a distance.
  7. We will communicate. Regularly. Slack has already been amazing for this. We are in communication and we all feel better knowing we have the tools to connect.

We won’t be meeting synchronously. I will be reassuring them that we can figure absolutely anything out together. I’m grateful we had 8 weeks to build trust in each other and establish our relationships. I truly believe we can accomplish what we NEED to accomplish – is it all I would LIKE to accomplish? No. It’s modified. And that’s okay. I’ll be posting resources here, sending them tools, TED talks, documentaries, book titles, trying to give them as many resources as I can while I can.

But I am with them for the duration. Our learning doesn’t stop when the semester ends or the quarantine lifts. They know I have their back and they know where to find me. At least I know I’ve taught them that.

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