This is week 4 learning/work at home for our family (though 3 of us are now on school holidays for 2 weeks). We’re only getting out for groceries, exercise, and putting out the bin.
The teens in our home are finding the social distancing most difficult – how do you keep connected with your mates when you’re used to seeing them on the bus, walking to school, hanging out at the mall? Family dinners and afternoon teas are now via Skype/Whatsapp/Messenger – making room in front of the desktop computer to eat and chat, using our phones, or bringing the laptop to the table means that we can all be part of each others’ lives as we have been monthly/weekly in the recent past.
Today’s post is about connection. You may have guessed from the images I’ve chosen this time. Never before have we needed to keep connected – for school, for work, for mental health – than now. How does this look locally, socially, globally right now?
Content for this post woke me at 11pm one night recently, and I couldn’t get back to sleep until I wrote it all down, ready to move it to my blog and share it with you! Keeping that in mind, it may read more as a ‘stream of consciousness’ rather than a traditional post.
ETL401: read this post in relation to Module 3: Role of the TL and consider how this role is crucial at a time where quality information is required to keep us healthy, educated, and informed.
INF530: this post strikes at the heart of your Module 3 readings – Social and participatory media; Information Fluency; Creativity and Copyright; Curation; Open Educational Resources; and metadata.
BOTH SUBJECTS: How can you lead your school community in our current space of “together apart”? This can be leading from the front but also leading from the middle – having influence in small ways to contribute to the whole.
Local/National Connection – School Experience
- Preparation for online learning:
- Doubling and tripling our workload – learning new platforms, pedagogy (online learning is NOT the same as f-2-f!), ways of resourcing.
- Ensuring we keep our students as a focus in the transition: the stress of caring for our more vulnerable students as we lose that face to face time with them
- Dealing with and being caught in the middle of commentary about schools closing; opening; teachers doing a great job; teachers not doing their job; parents fearful of needing to be the teacher while working from home as well (while fearing for the health of their families)
- The strain of juggling teaching from home with caring for toddlers and babies; keeping our own children’s education going.
- Connecting as a team remotely to deliver to others at home:
- our PL committee has become the “brains trust” in the transition to online learning: finding expertise within our staff and sharing what works with others. Local experts on staff – invaluable!
- LOTS more email – because there are no longer random chats in corridors, lunch times, after class, on playground duty, before/after staff meetings.
- TLs supporting the principal and leadership team: Lori and Holly on the professional learning committee; resources for staff and student sites developed; bulking up of LTC Library website; provision of staff PL.
- Principal connects with us: daily updates regarding school site, Departmental updates, and social connection and wellbeing (“quotable quotes”).
- Connecting with colleagues at other colleges regarding resourcing, policy for online learning etc
- Our Director-General of our Education Department writing to us weekly to keep us going; share updates re working conditions and how they will be supporting students.
- The Board of Senior Secondary Studies (who monitors Year 11 and 12 learning in the ACT) keeping us in the loop with requirements related to learning hours, assessment tasks and so on.
- PLNs via professional colleagues and professional associations: Australian School Library Association, Australian Library and Information Association, International Association of School Librarianship, (National and International), SLANSW, QSLA, WASLA, SLAV, SLASA (State/Territory school library associations).
- Charles Sturt University: the university has been sending daily updates to staff; regular updates to students; reaching out via social media; providing health and wellbeing options to staff.
- Messenger chats with colleagues once a week (in lieu of the weekly ‘coffee walk’ at recess!)
- Cuppa chats with mates
- Connection through social media: photos, funny memes, news articles
- PLNs on social media:
- Teachers’ wellbeing group has started on FB
- Connected Educators of the ACT: Google Suite updates, best practice shared etc
- SLNet (School Library Network – ACT school library and regional): email list and Facebook
- Teacher Librarianship@CSU: FB group
- Students: Discord, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, gaming platforms (including Steam, Nintendo Switch)
- eSafety more important now
- Social/emotional wellbeing: great to keep in touch with mates, but also open to misinterpretations and social ostracism
- Live streaming via YouTube and Instagram: my son has a social media presence on multiple platforms to share his electronic music compositions. He wanted to share some of his music and how he works, so he live streamed for 15 minutes.
- Connection to education in the classroom right now, real time. Synchronous learning looks different online than it does in the classroom.
- Getting to the crux of what students ACTUALLY need, rather than what we think they might need.
- Exploration of asynchronous options:
- To allow learning to happen around family life, student jobs, parent work hours, student concentration levels
- To protect the learning of those who have minimal to no option for Internet access
- Global sharing of learning experiences in isolation from educators ahead of us at this time: learning from their practice and their students’ reactions. We are learning all the time from our colleagues in Italy, China, the UK… They are sharing resources, good/bad/ugly of online learning.
- Use what is happening right now to make learning REAL for our students. When I was studying World History in Year 12, it was the era of glasnost/perestroika/ending of Communism and the fall of the USSR/Berlin Wall! We didn’t have the Internet, but the news articles daily and Time Magazine added a freshness and challenged everything we were learning about. Our students today have the opportunity to track new information almost to the minute as events change. Examples:
- Year 10 Maths: exponential curves – track COVID-19’s development and movement within a society and across the globe; what does “flattening the curve” look like?
- Year 10 Science: genetic diseases and viruses – up close and personal experience; related viruses such as SARS – MERS – COVID-19.
- English/Sociology/Economics/Legal Studies/ Business Studies/History:
- Keeping a journal of lockdown/iso thoughts: the National Library of Australia is calling for these items in the near future as a social history of this pandemic in Australia.
- What changes are happening within society right now? Equity and inequality between those who have a job and don’t/have Internet access and don’t/those that are homeless?
- What effect is this having on national and global economies? What theories are coming into play? Recession vs depression? A call for more Australian manufacturing to be supported as our need to rely on the globalisation of resources is made very evident.
- How are our state/territory governments able to create laws related to COVID-19 conditions temporarily? What safeguards are in place to ensure they don’t become permanent if not needed?
- PLNs – valuable now more than ever!
I’ve always been a fan of technology in teaching and in communication. I am pleased now more than ever that I’m willing to embrace changes in this space so that I can support others to whom this is a huge shock!
My greatest recommendation right now is for all of you to find and read Julie Lindsay’s book, The Global Educator: Leveraging Technology for Collaborative Learning and Teaching. It is a treasure trove and guide for all educators at this pivotal point in education.
Finally, I urge you (if you haven’t already done so) to find a way to connect with your colleagues locally, socially and globally. Make use of the social media apps at your fingertips. It’s not just from a professional point of view but it’s also to keep that social connection with colleagues as well. Our isolation of practice shrinks if we can be connected and continue to support each other through this. Remember – it’s PHYSICAL distancing, NOT social distancing.
Stay safe, stay home, keep well.