This school year has been a marathon by any standards. The months of online instruction seem to drag as the interactions with our students increasingly diminish as the toll of daily Zoom sessions takes an effect on both students and instructors. Of course there is the $100,000 question, "What will next year look like?"
For some school districts the planning has already taken place. Hybrid classes are now in full session and for others there instruction has been open for months. Others like my district are chosen to continue remote learning through the end of the school year. And school districts being bureaucratic in nature don't always consider the voice of the teachers, "soldiers" on the frontline. So what can you control when it comes to the next year?
As teachers know when the door closes in the classroom you for the most part are on your own. Some have to adhere to a rigid curriculum that prescribes that this particular standard must be covered today and the next one tomorrow. There is little flexibility in what and sometimes how they teach. However, others have more ability to shape and design their own curriculum. In doing so the considerations of their students are taken into effect. Now more than ever students social-emotional needs as well as ability to provide choices for mastery are incumbent. Recently I read a passage from Todd Rose's "The End of Average," of which the Frederick Taylor, the guru behind the standardization model stated as he spoke of factory workers, "We don't want initiative. All we want from them is to obey orders." I know that many teachers provided a thriving pre-pandemic classroom that was full of energy, noise, and most important learning. Furthermore, there were those teachers who continued to provide this model despite Zoom or Google Classroom sessions. I hope that as plans are made to return that curriculum design is not constructed with conformity in mind, but with the desire to provoke thought, creativity, and connections with the wider world.
For myself as I have embarked on path to becoming a Canvas Certified Teacher, I have found that course design is more than just content and technology. Planning involves assessing how technology is used with the content, looking at the number of platforms that are used in one lesson, and providing students for opportunities to connect with the world outside the classroom walls. The first of these technology integration is one of which I am fairly proficient, but without the use of the models that provide pedagogical direction. The second one of assessing the platforms utilized in a lesson was an "aha" moment for me as I reviewed a recent lesson. The third, connecting with a wider audience has been a consummate struggle as I have my students publish their content but it without a wider audience in mind. All of these areas need to be considered as planning takes place for the upcoming year. Our students will have changed and so will the teachers. This is the time for the paradigm shift in technology integration. So find your direction.