Posted in Teaching During the Pandemic, Technology

#edtech for parents

Please don’t be offended. If this isn’t your child, or you, or your child’s teacher, great! There may be some useful tips in here, maybe. I don’t know yet, and I’m in kind of a mood. A mood without filters.

Background: I have been teaching for 15 years. I have been using technology since the late 80s. When I met my husband to be, he had an Apple sticker on his truck. *Swoon* I love technology, and have written about it many times on this blog.

“Back in my day” when report cards were mailed out once a semester I kept track on paper what my grades were, or asked the teacher, and if I failed something quickly worked to make it up or redo it, and scrambled before the report grades got into my parents’ hands. Now parents can check an online grading system and get notifications if an assignment is missing, late, or if grades drop below a threshold.

And with 1:1 environments and now distance learning, many parents are witnessing what students have been experiencing for years now. Between Remind, Canvas, Google Classroom, medium agnosticisms, Microsoft, Peardeck, Nearpod, etc., the amount of platforms, programs, pings, pongs, and persistent pokes of online and digital assignments.

It’s stress inducing, to be sure.

  1. Many teachers and districts to not coordinate communication efforts to parents. From this place, move on. Do not allow their lack of coordination affect your peace.
  2. Your child will lie to you.
    Maybe not intentionally. Maybe so. If they are under the age of 25 their prefrontal cortex is not fully developed and they don’t want to get into trouble. That is their only focus now. They will tell you they did their work, their homework, their assignment, they don’t have any work, they’re caught up, they did the reading, the practice, took the test, whatever. And maybe they did. But the default answer is “I did it.” And it is not true.
  3. Everyone works better writing things down. Every. One. You’re not extraordinary, or special. Even if you set reminders on your phone and don’t hand write things, you’re still “writing it down.” Get your kid a planner and some cool pens. They need to write by hand anyway. Really.
  4. Read up on the adolescent brain.
  5. Set one time a week to check assignments. Trust with verification.
  6. Limit the amount of help, though. Productive struggle is great for brain growth.
  7. This is your child’s job. But they are not little Microsoft executives. They are not “digital natives.” Many of their teachers will smirk, act superior, smug, and generally awful about your child’s ability to turn in or not work assigned to them. Ignore it. Seriously. Ignore it. Just help your child make their list, use the Pomodoro method, and learn how to write an email to their teachers.

Two of the main “LMS” (learning management systems) are Canvas and Google Classrooms. Each have methods for students to upload assignments. I strongly recommend you look at tutorials on how to do this:

Canvas for parents: https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Observer-Guide/How-do-I-sign-up-for-a-Canvas-account-as-a-parent/ta-p/540

Posted in Teaching During the Pandemic

Keep your receipts.

Poem by Anna Gilmore Heezen, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Many teachers are writing deeply reflective work now, but I am not one of them.

This past week I’ve been waking up around 4:15AM, and then dropping off to sleep earlier and earlier. Still drinking water, taking my vitamins, and trying to breath, but my body revolts. But my brain surges in the witching hour, (which is not midnight, but between 3 and 4 AM).

It’s almost the end of first quarter. My teaching practice and energy has been spent on what I predicted last spring, but struggled with how to prepare. I write notes, letters, send packages, and even went on home visits. But still students, home with large and small families, who struggled with depression, anxiety, and trauma, cannot seem to find the invisible bridge to online school–it’s hidden in a fog, the mist of sorrow.

And I’m not trying to bum you out, I promise. I’m not. But playing on repeat in my head is that so much of this was going on before the pandemic, and now it’s just magnified. Students and teachers struggled to connect with one another: I don’t mean building relationships, or students not knowing that many adults cared about them and their well-being, but the kinds of generational connections to curiosity, satisfaction, and purpose. The ikigai of life. They didn’t put down their cell phones because that world was consistently far more entertaining and dopamine inducing than anything a teacher could say.

But considering some of the spreading of misinformation by teachers on social media now, why would our students trust us with their critical thinking skills? Even educators I respect(ed) and trust are sharing fake news about the new health curriculum in Washington State, and a few even posted that “Zuckerberg won’t allow the Lord’s Prayer” — twice. TWICE. Even after I told them this was false. And I didn’t even begin to get into the antisemitic piece about that lie.

Maybe — just this — please, teachers –don’t make things worse. Don’t exacerbate this situation by spreading lies, rumors, half-truths, and any fear mongering story.

There is no war on religion. There is a war on intellectualism and critical thinking skills.

There is not war on on white people. There is deeply rooted racism in our nation. And no, there is no such thing as reverse racism, as a few white women teachers tried to contend in a recent thread.

I’m asking folks to have a little less Dunning-Kruger and a little more skepticism and questioning.

Please.

And stop spending and spreading the lies so quickly. Save and keep the truth.