How are teachers handling massive school closures?: A teaser for this Friday’s panel
Join us 3/24 at 6 PM MST/9 PM EDT at bit.ly/TADLiveStream to learn about our panelist for the discussion about school redesign during a pandemic. We will hear from three educators in Asia.
Join us 4/24 at 6 MST/9 EDT for a discussion! Just point your browser to bit.ly/TADLiveStream
Last week, I spoke to three friends/former colleagues, Anne Drouet and Fiona Collins, and my friend/former rugby coach, Laura Cowan, about their experience during COVID times. Anne is a performing arts director, Fiona is a librarian, and Laura is a middle school counselor. All of their positions must be particularly difficult to adapt to online forums. Additionally, all work in Asia and are four months ahead of the western hemisphere in terms of redesigning how they teach in these times.
They told me stories of their adjustment, reflected on their process, and synthesized the lessons they learned. In short, it’s been hard and some warning would have been nice, but they also learned some lessons that they want to share.
First, some background about Anne, Fiona, and Laura.
Anne is the best music teacher I have ever worked with. She would regularly move me to tears during music assemblies because of how she puts students in positions to succeed. Fiona is the only librarian I know that welcomed collaboration with me as a math teacher. She was my sounding board for years. While we no longer work together we have remained friends and they are still the first people I think of when I have a new idea and want a sounding board. Laura was a supportive coach as I learned the game of rugby in my 30s. She supported all of the players on the field and off and I know that care and attention to details encompassed her approach to helping students through social-emotional issues at school.
Lessons from Anne
Currently, Anne is a performing arts director at a school in Hong Kong in her 12th week of online teaching. During our call, she spoke about how her colleagues collaborated with their design choices to maximize effectiveness and wellbeing for students:
“If I ask my students to use a new platform, what does that look like for them? How many other new platforms are they being required to learn? How might we as teachers collaborate to share resources for collaboration, a celebration of work and innovation in a sustainable way?“
In other words, she stressed thinking about the details (e.g., the students’ experiences, the changing contexts, and the culture of an organization) of each new choice.
Anne went on to discuss the Substitution-Augmentation-Modification-Redesign (SAMR) model training that the teachers received the previous year and how these principles could extend to online learning and beyond. By applying this model of thinking to school events, Anne’s team reimagined arts productions into live streamed TV shows with audiences across 12 time zones!
Additionally, Anne raised the need to consider the different cultural expectations and needs of a diverse international school community. She advised other educators and parents, whatever you are doing is enough.
Lessons from Fiona
Fiona is a librarian of a school in Korea. Fiona’s situation filled me with hope because there have been so few cases where she is in Korea so the school is doing modified social distancing. In a way, her school is a hybrid of what going back to school might look like. For example, she is going to campus every day (with added precautions of getting her temperature taken when going into the building).
During our conversation, we talked a lot about educational technology. Her K12 school is streamlining its approach to technology by asking teachers to refrain from using new platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts. For example, they continue to use the platform See-Saw for primary students and Google Classroom for middle school and high school in order to simplify the lives of students and parents. So, as a librarian, she leveraged another commonplace and familiar platform by communicating on Instagram to free up space in people’s inboxes. On Instagram, students could share short videos to have a discussion. One aspect of this experience that has surprised her is that students who are typically quiet during in-person instruction are ‘talking’ a lot more online. She thinks it is because English is an additional language for the majority of the students. The students with less fluency do not speak as much in front of their peers, but online they submit videos to their teacher without needing to perform in front of peers. Hence, online ‘talking’ gives them time to craft their sentences or hit delete and try again.
Lessons from Laura
Laura Cowan is a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and an experienced international educator and counselor who has worked predominantly in Asia for the past 25 years. She currently works at Hong Kong International School (HKIS) as a Middle School Counselor and has a daughter in grade 2. Her areas of expertise lay in trauma/crisis support, and teen & family counseling. HKIS has just finished up their 11th week of home learning.
During our call, Laura reiterated that she was happy to share what she and her colleagues have, and continue to learn throughout this novel and destabilizing period of time. As a counselor, she oversees the wellbeing of her students, their parents, and the Middle School Faculty. Laura is fortunate to work with a strong R-12 Counseling team, which comprises 18 counselors and one school psychologist. Together they have developed and redesigned support structures for all three stakeholders, with a view of being as proactive as possible during these times of uncertainty. One area that seems to be commonly overlooked during the transition to home learning is in regards to Child Protection Policies and Procedures, which may look very different during this COVID-19 crisis. Laura has experienced this first hand when she recently had to provide support in a child protection case with one of her students.
Laura recently participated as a panel member for an ISS (International School Services) webinar for secondary school counselors and has resources and insight to share from this experience.
For More …
Join us Friday, 6PM MST/9PM EDT April 24th for a panel called, “Redesigning a school during a Pandemic: Lessons from Asia” where Anne, Fiona, and Laura will share their experiences with us in-depth with us. Expect conversations about how each educational professional remade (or continues to remake) their jobs during the many phases of the COVID-19 crisis from counseling to putting on music shows. Lastly, I am thankful for these women and excited to host them as they share their knowledge and experience with us.
Link to the live stream