Ready or Not: Here 2021 Comes: 1/3/2021

Getting Started: #transformation

As I shared in my last blog post on 12/29/2020, I chose my #oneword2021 for several reasons. I had made so many strides this past year as I focused on CHALLENGE. I wanted my #oneword2021 to take those strides I made and allow me to TRANSFORM them. In doing so, I determined a few goals related to transformation that fell under this umbrella.

During Winter Break, I decided to take some time to jump start my #oneword2021. I am proud to share that I took those two weeks to be healthy and active. I even lost 5 pounds! In addition, I worked on my book draft with renewed focus and published four blog entries. I even sent my book draft to a few publishers. I am truly ready for my year of transformation.

The Transformation That Lies Ahead

Tomorrow, I return back to school after a two week break. It was a much needed break and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I return tomorrow to prepare for another transformation.

Starting January 12, 2021, my school district will begin bringing students back into buildings. We are using a hybrid model with concurrent instruction. In each classroom, someceudents will be face to face 2 days a week and virtual the other 2 days and some students will be entirely virtual. On January 12, 2021, we begin this with Kindergarten students. One week later, on January 19, 2021, Grades 1 and 2 will begin this model, followed by Grades 3 and 4 on January 26, 2021 and finally Grades 5 and 6 on February 2, 2021.

The challenges my colleagues and I faced during entirely virtual instruction have taught us many lessons. My staff has grown tremendously during this period. Now, we need to take these strengths and the strides we have made and transform our instruction once again.

Concurrent instruction in K-12 environments is a relatively new endeavor. Educational technology experts like Catlin Tucker and John Spencer have been instrumental in helping tech coaches like myself make sense of this challenge.

In mid December, I was lucky enough to attend a VSTE webinar by Catlin Tucker. Like all of us, she is trying to help educators navigate these unprecedented times. I loved how she used what she was already knowledgeable about, blended learning, and found ways to transform her existing models to best meet today's needs. Blended learning is all about finding that balance between online and offline activities. I loved how she focused on really examining our instructional practices to see how we can maximize our limited learning time with our students.

She discussed looking at how we can leverage asynchronous and synchronous instruction. She is not alone in this train of thought. Currently, I am reading John Spencer's Empowered at a Distance. Like Catlin, he also writes about leveraging time between these two models of instruction. They both focus on the importance of connection during synchronous time.

Like Spencer and Tucker, I want to help my colleagues engage in a similar process. How can we take best practices that we are already doing and transform them to meet this new paradigm? Tomorrow, we start that process. I know that many of my colleagues have worries related to return to school, while also being excited about seeing students face to face. I feel the same way.

As a tech coach, I want to work with my colleagues to help them navigate these challenges. I am so fortunate to work in an amazing school. We are a Professional Learning Community and regularly collaborate to answer these four questions.

  • What do we want all students to know and be able to do?

  • How will we know if they learn it?

  • How will we respond when some students do not learn?

  • How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient?

My colleagues are gifted educators. I know that we can gather tomorrow and work together to take all of our best practices and find an answer from what we already know works best. This is not going to be a sudden transformation as we navigate this important work but a slow, but steady process. We need to also remember that we are not alone. Many other school districts around the nation have been in our shoes already and we can learn even more by reaching out to our PLN.

Ready or not, here 2021 comes. We all survived 2020- we can do this too. Any words of wisdom from my PLN- please feel free to reach out. After all, we are all better together!