Julie Duggan

Jerseyville West Elementary
Jerseyville, Illinois
Julie Duggan, First Grade Teacher

 Turning the Model Upside Down and Inside Out

The last few months have been a whirlwind, to say the least.

March: What, they are sending us home? How will we connect, teach and care for our students? Screencastify? Ok, we will give it a shot. What a great tool! Our students can see our face and we can deliver lessons to maintain skills.

April: We still aren’t going back? Time to get creative. Go for a walk, film yourself reading in the woods, teach about chickens, film yourself feeding your chickens, live on a farm, read a book from a tractor, have a pet download an app so your dog can tell jokes – anything to keep your students connected and learning.

May: We aren’t going back at all? How will we make sure they are ready for the next grade? What skills will they lose over the summer? Most importantly, how will we say goodbye? Spend hours searching for resources for parents to use over the summer. Send books, videos and activities for students to continue to learn and then plan a trip around the county so we can see the students one last time in person before they are no longer our first grade students.

June: Did that really just happen? Did the year really end that way? Take a breath, reflect on what went well and what could be done better.

July: Will we be going back? Start preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. We want to be in person but how will we handle remote? Join a Facebook teacher group, start researching programs that can help in person and remote learning, experiment with different forms of technology, learn a new communication app.

August: We are going to do what? We are going to have in person AND remote learners? Meet with your grade level, come up with a game plan, rework game plan, share ideas on delivering instruction virtually, prepare your real classroom and your virtual one, distribute the workload, share videos you made with your grade level team and SO MUCH MORE!

September: Can you believe it? We made it through a whole month of school. We are managing two types of learners — in person and remote. Well, make that three, if you count temporary remote learners (quarantined students). Whew!

In a few short months, we have gone from a traditional classroom where all of our learners were with us 8:15 – 3:00, Monday through Friday, to a hybrid classroom, where some of our students are with us Monday through Thursday 8:00 – 2:00 and some of our students are at home.

Many of us have taught in the traditional classroom where change occurs at a slower pace, where we had time to adapt to new technologies. In the last few months, we have completely flipped the traditional classroom model to become a technologically advanced model. Even we didn’t know if we could pull it off, but we have. And we are continuing to learn and adapt in a creative and positive way.

What is different between now and before COVID? Our way of teaching has been completely turned upside down and inside out. We rely on and learn new technology daily. We don’t “see” every student every day.

What is the same between now and before COVID? We still do what is best for students. We collaborate with our fellow educators. We teach in creative and innovative ways to keep our students engaged…AND we do it with our whole heart! We don’t focus on what we can’t do because of COVID but what we can do for our students, those in our classroom and those at home!

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