My gut reaction is ‘meh’. I am still emerging in my skills as a virtual teacher. This year is not like any other year teaching. In 2020, being in the middle of a pandemic we are teaching in a time of trauma. Hence, it is difficult to show my baseline in teaching.
Though I have taught 17 years, I feel like a first-year teacher. New to teaching virtually, I often feel like I am fumbling with learning the different platforms. With that, I love being able to teach virtual school. However, at times I suppose I am sort of grieving being able to interact with my students daily in my own classroom. At brick and mortar school., each day I would meet my students at the door. They were a part of my family, so to speak, and I was their school mom.
Sometimes in the Blackboard platform, without seeing my students I feel like I am talking to myself. I am excited about the possibilities teaching virtually and want to make my time with my students nurturing, engaging, accessible, and rigorous.
As the school year progresses, students are slowly starting to participate more. Students are starting to type more in the chat box, give emojis, and. encouragement to others by applauding when one volunteers. At other times, I am like, “Bueller?” I am glad that my mic was working most of the time. My first week teaching, I think I went 20 minutes teaching without my microphone being on. There is a funny self-deprecating meme that teachers are sharing asking teachers what is the longest amount of time that they taught with their mic off.
B. What is an opportunity for growth?
An opportunity for grown, is with learning the nuances of the platforms. I am not smooth with transitions yet in a virtual world. Additionally, sometimes I can’t keep up with their comments in the chat box while teaching. My students type so fast, which is good. However, I am hoping they will keep practicing expressing themselves with peers in the microphone. When I went into the breakout rooms, they were quiet. I felt like it was pulling teeth encouraging my students to talk to one another. Perhaps, one of the limitations is Blackboard. When I had trouble with Blackboard, I used Zoom for a day and my students interacted with each other much more. This is probably so because they could see one another. I know the school prefers us to teach via Blackboard because of the data analytics.
C. Did you implement the action item we set during our last meeting? How did it go?
Yes, I implemented the action item. My goal was to provide students opportunities to use writing to express themselves (social emotional support) and share with their peers in breakout rooms. The lesson was Rorschach Poetry: Finding One’s Voice through Poetry. I am also certified in guidance counseling and took art therapy classes in graduate school. Hence, I feel it key to integrate social-emotional learning throughout my lessons to support students with special needs. Since the lesson was about voice, I am really thankful that some of my students are feeling like our class is a safe space to share their ideas and use the mic to express themselves. It is good to hear their voices!
2. What roadblocks are you running into as you continue working on your goal?
As I continue working on my goal, some of the roadblocks are the platform itself. I am not a big fan of Blackboard. It is a bit challenging to build classroom community. I am certified in Fine Arts as well and used to do a lot of reader’s theater in my classroom. I would like my students to be able to see each other more and interact more.
Time is also an issue, as it is for many teachers. With the time of a half an hour for each Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) class it is challenging to fit in all that I was to do to support my students with their IEP goals. Hence, I have been scheduling more office hours with the students who need extra supports.
With that class size, in brick and mortar school the ratio for special education is typically 12:1. Albeit, some schools didn't follow that. At one school, I had 44 students in the class and no paraeducators. Ed Code is 12:1 though for SpEd. I am thankful we have each other in our cohort to help support our students during our virtual classes, but I wish it were more of a co-teach model with the Gen Ed teachers, rather than a sped peer teacher moderator. I would rather partner with the Gen Ed teachers so it is more inclusive.
2. What roadblocks are you running into as you continue working on your goal? (Cont.)
I am also used of having teaching assistants (i.e. paraeducators) work with me. They would often complete a lot of the busy secretarial work in special education so that I can focus more on teaching. We could do more small groups such as having a table of 3 or 4 students at the kidney table reading a story together.
Additionally, not having a school secretary is challenging. Scheduling students with so many add/drops took a long time. At a brick and mortar school, the office staff did the scheduling. I feel like I am glued to my computer most of the time and am often working nights and weekends in addition to the school week. I still feel like I am never caught up. For me to be an effective teacher of teaching social emotional learning, I need to find more balance and take care of myself better. I will probably gain more momentum as time goes by and I become more fluent with the various platforms.
3. If you’d like to include any data collected around your goal in your interactive notebook (copy and paste of a screenshot works!) Please see the video clip.
4. After your reflection, what is your next action item?
My next action item is to continue this action item. I feel like I have given my students the opportunities to express themselves. However, I would like to continue with supporting students in sharing their thoughts and writing with each other as a social-emotional support during the pandemic.
I can't share my live lessons, but I have been recording my lessons after I teach them just in case a student cannot log into Blackboard, or if I need them for sub plans in the future. I will keep updating my teacher reflections each quarter as a part of my quarantine journaling. Take good care.