When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Keep Teaching Online

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Of all the topics to blog about, this one feels like the most relevant blog that I need to invest my time on.  When I attend this class and do the weekly readings or listen to the podcasts, I feel like I am a sponge!  I am taking it all in, just as Kate Gaskill mentioned in this podcast with Kareem Farah.  I spend every moment thinking about how useful all of this information would have been in March when the pandemic hit and we found ourselves knee-deep in remote learning or “emergency learning” as many refer to it.  

Last year was my first year as a vice principal, so my experience was much different from that of a classroom teacher.  I did not have a class of my own to manage, but I did have an entire staff and a community of learners who were dealing with an array of feelings.  Some felt comfortable handling online teaching as they had experience using technology in their classrooms and others were certainly not. Suddenly the mental health of many of my staff and students was impacted immensely.  I was officially in crisis management mode!  Those that were comfortable with using the tech were feeling pretty good about their job and themselves and they knew exactly how to get many of the kids engaged. Others were left feeling lost and not knowing where to start.  I tried my best to steer them in the right direction with resources that I was aware of and if I didn’t have the answers, I tried my best to find them or at least someone who could help.  I knew that I had very little knowledge in the area of today’s technology options, so I spent my days putting out fires and being the calming force for many, and my nights were filled with my own pd to ensure that I knew what the heck I was talking about when it came to Google Classroom and Seesaw!  These were the main platforms that we used in our classrooms at my school. I quickly had to become familiar with both as I needed to field questions from both staff and families in order to keep everyone calm.  As this was a division directive, Kindergarten and Grade One teachers had the paid version of Seesaw and Grade Two and Three teachers used the free version.  In class, we have discussed on many occasions how some tools cost money and others are free.  Let me tell you, there is definitely a huge difference!  

Just as Kareem Farah mentioned in his podcast, teachers (including myself) were feeling frustrated with the lack of pd that was accessible and felt like they needed to figure out so much on their own. I feel like nobody is to blame for this, as everyone (teachers, admin, division office personnel to name a few) were living day by day, trying to sort out what would come next. I am not sure that anyone would have expected that this could be a long term situation.  As time went on, our division knew that communication was key and that they needed to empower their staff to move ahead in this new world of teaching.  Not only did we need to empower our staff, but also our students.  Many had become so disengaged and struggled to feel connected to their learning community. If there is one word I can use to describe the staff at my school, it would be fun.  The students always knew they could count on us to raise their spirits with our shenanigans!  Soon we decided that this was even more important in a pandemic.  We decided to have weekly challenges that we put out to the families on our social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  Usually, they included some insanely crazy Tiktok or You Tube videos, or photographs that I am sure will come back to haunt me one day! 

Fast forward a few months and now we were all just getting in to the swing of things. Our staff and students were settling into a great year of face to face learning. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before our school was infected with the Coronavirus and now our the staff found themselves dealing with what was deemed an “outbreak” in our school.  At this moment, I felt grateful that my staff had a much greater sense of confidence to be able to teach online. They had the time to become familiar with the tech tools that they had started to use in the spring. I believe that we all came back to school this fall with the belief that we would one day need to use them again.  Our staff began the year by ensuring that all students and parents were familiar with the online platforms that we are to use in our school division.  The teachers have done an amazing job of keeping their “online classrooms” up to date with the content that they are teaching face to face.  However, I have heard from many that they are feeling like they just aren’t doing enough for their students.  I think we all need to understand that we can’t expect things to look like it did pre-covid in our classrooms. It is important to look at what we can do to embrace the future evolution of learning both in the classroom and online. 

This leads me to the necessary shout out to last week’s presenters.  Thank you Amanda, Catherine, Kristina and Nancy for sharing your wealth of knowledge and ideas in the area of distance learning.  I have often felt overwhelmed thinking about all of the tools available out there and the time it takes to seek them all out, nevermind knowing for certain which ones will be the most beneficial to our learning. I absolutely loved the resource they shared with us that allows for a one-stop shopping experience for teachers who are educating online. I cannot wait to share this with my staff!  It clearly lays out each area of distance learning and the resource that one could use for each. Amanda’s videos that she created for the reading strategies were fantastic!  As a learning resource teacher, I teach these exact strategies to my students. I have spent a lot of time and money finding stuffies to relate to each of these animals, but never have I thought about making videos!  I think for me, I need to spend more time learning how to use another video making tool other than Adobe Spark. I just started learning about WeVideo with my group members in the past few weeks.  I think it can be daunting at first, but with a bit of practice, I just may become excited to use it to engage my students with their learning if I need to provide support to my online learners in the future. 

After learning more about Synchronous and Asynchronous learning in last week’s presentation, I realize how important it is to provide our students with the opportunity to play instructional videos at a time that may work best for them and their families.  I find this to be especially true at my school as we have had had many families identify that they only have one device to share amongst multiple children or that they need to work during the day and therefore must do the schooling in the evenings and weekends.  Whatever the reason may be, we need to look at the dynamics of our students and families as we create a learning environment that will be optimal for all!  

I believe that we are all doing the best we can on any given day.  Not just us, but our students, their families, and even our school division leaders.  We are all making the necessary changes in the way we do things to assist us and our students not just in the present, but for the long run.  This pandemic may have brought us a lot of chaos that we had hoped would be short lived, but perhaps it has also taught many of us to open our minds and embrace the learning of the future……

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Is The Internet Killing My Productivity???

I used to think I was a good multi-tasker who worked hard to ensure that I did the best job possible for every single task that I completed.  Then as years went on and the distractions became greater,  I realized perhaps, it was time for me to settle in and focus on one thing at a time as I began to feel like I no longer had those strengths to get me through so much at one time.   This week we watched the video titled “Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking.”  It addressed the extent to which multi-tasking has become the new norm for work and suggested that we need to find better ways to focus on only one item at a time.  

I have found that my ability to focus on one task at a time has decreased greatly both at home and at work.  It seems that one thing tends to lead to another (that perhaps may be more engaging than the other)  and then my mind starts spiraling with the worries of all of the things that I know I need to accomplish so I better get going and add more to my plate.  I feel as though when life seemed somewhat more simple for me, I was able to stick to one task and do a darn good job at it before moving on to the next one.  Now, life seems much more hectic and I just can’t’ keep up so I find myself trying to multitask to be more productive.  But is it really working? 

Even as I try to write this blog, I am guilty of having thirty-five other tabs open on my computer that span from work-related items to many, many project-based tabs open.  And then there is my phone that is sure to “ding” just when I am starting to feel like I am immersed in the task at hand and that I am finally getting somewhere.  In this instant, I definitely feel like the internet is not helping me to be as productive as I once felt!  Is that the internet’s fault?   Somedays I feel that it is,  and other days, I feel like it is up to me to take the responsibility on this one.  Do I need to have my phone by my side distracting me to no end?  Nope. I don’t think I do!  While writing this blog, my mind continues to drift elsewhere as I am thinking about all of the new information that I found earlier for my group project. The more time I spend thinking about the topic at hand, the more I feel I need to know.  One tab or article leads to another link until my head is utterly spinning.  Oh and now that I am feeling like I have information overload….I then decide it is a good idea to take a break and check out Facebook or perhaps my new found friend, Twitter, which usually ends with me unable to return to my initial task because now my family needs me to tend to my parental duties.  By the time I get back to the job I was working on, I no longer have the focus or energy to even want to finish what I started.  In this case, my productivity is a victim of the way I chose to use the internet. 

Having the internet should actually increase our productivity with so much information at our fingertips.  We no longer have to spend the extra time searching for the answers.   Our good friend Google can tell us almost anything that we need.  Somedays I feel like this is advantageous and other days I worry that our children will lose the ability to search for information and problem solve when they can’t find it in an instant. That being said, I believe the internet has an abundance of tools that can improve our productivity.  During our presentation last week, the group shared many different tools that educators can use to increase both their productivity and that of their students.  G Suite and Office 365 were just two of the resources that were explored.  Collaboration is proven to drive productivity. With both of these tools, students and educators can collaborate in real-time to achieve their goals and timelines.  In the article,How Collaboration Drives Prdocutivity Suite Innovation,”  it states, “Organizations that properly evaluate and leverage modern collaboration tools will see the greatest gains in productivity and efficiency.”   I agree that using these tools can engage our learners and allow them the opportunity to work with others which tends to motivate us all to be more productive.  When utilizing these tools. the classroom can now be available 24/7.  Check out this link that shares the best productivity tools of 2020.

Now that we have learned why multitasking may not be the best practice for us, you may be wondering what can we do to be more productive?  Check out his video…

When we get the choice,  stop juggling and get the work done faster……. one task at a time!  I am sure that most of us cannot become more productive overnight, but if we decide to make some small changes, such as the ones found below,  we will be well on our way to becoming the productivity or efficiency queen or king that we always dreamed of being!

Increase productivity and become highly efficient with these habits:

1.   Focus on most important tasks first

2.   Cultivate deep work

3.   Keep a distraction list to stay focused

4.   Use the Eisenhower Matrix to identify long-term priorities

5.   Use the 80/20 rule

6.   Break tasks into smaller pieces

7.   Take breaks

8.   Make fewer decisions

9.   Eliminate inefficient communication

10.                Find repeatable shortcuts

11.                Learn from successes as well as mistakes

12.                Plan for when things go wrong

13.                Work before you get motivated or inspired

14.                Don’t multitask

15.                Fill the tank — recharge

16.                Sharpen the axe

17.                Manage your energy (not just time)

18.                Get better at saying “no”

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AUDIO-VISUAL TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM….IS IT TIME TO CHANGE MY WAYS?

In‌ ‌this‌ ‌week’s‌ ‌blog‌ ‌post,‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌asked‌ ‌to‌ ‌respond‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌following‌ ‌quote‌ ‌by‌ ‌Neil‌ ‌Postman,‌‌ ‌‌“…We‌ ‌now‌ ‌know‌ ‌that‌ ‌“Sesame‌ ‌Street”‌ ‌encourages‌ ‌children‌ ‌to‌ ‌love‌ ‌school‌ ‌only‌ ‌if‌ ‌school‌ ‌is‌ ‌like‌ ‌“Sesame‌ ‌Street.”‌ ‌Which‌ ‌is‌ ‌to‌ ‌say,‌ ‌we‌ ‌now‌ ‌know‌ ‌that‌ ‌“Sesame‌ ‌Street”‌ ‌undermines‌ ‌what‌ ‌the‌ ‌traditional‌ ‌idea‌ ‌of‌ ‌schooling‌ ‌represents.”‌  ‌Directly‌ ‌after‌ ‌our‌ ‌class,‌ ‌as‌ ‌I‌ ‌reflected‌ ‌upon‌ ‌this‌ ‌quote,‌ ‌I‌ ‌felt‌ ‌like‌ ‌this‌ ‌may‌ ‌just‌ ‌be‌ ‌one‌ ‌more‌ ‌thing‌ ‌I‌ ‌missed‌ ‌out‌ ‌on‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌child,‌ ‌or‌ ‌is‌ ‌it?‌ ‌I‌ ‌grew‌ ‌up‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌home‌ ‌that‌ ‌only‌ ‌had‌ ‌one‌ ‌old‌ ‌television‌ ‌with‌ ‌no‌ ‌cable.‌ ‌Just‌ ‌two‌ ‌channels‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌were‌ ‌lucky‌ ‌enough‌ ‌to‌ ‌maneuver‌ ‌those‌ ‌rabbit‌ ‌ears‌ ‌in‌ ‌just‌ ‌the‌ ‌right‌ ‌spot!‌ ‌I‌ ‌also‌ ‌had‌ ‌2‌ ‌older‌ ‌brothers‌ ‌who‌ ‌consumed‌ ‌much‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌tv‌ ‌time.‌ ‌Therefore,‌ ‌I‌ ‌can‌ ‌honestly‌ ‌say‌ ‌that‌ ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌this‌ ‌day,‌ ‌never‌ ‌watched‌ ‌a‌ ‌full‌ ‌episode‌ ‌of‌ ‌Sesame‌ ‌Street.‌ ‌The‌ ‌tear-jerking‌ ‌clip‌ ‌that‌ ‌we‌ ‌watched‌ ‌in‌ ‌class‌ ‌was‌ ‌perhaps‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌ever‌ ‌watched‌ ‌at‌ ‌one‌ ‌time.‌ ‌I‌ ‌am‌ ‌familiar‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌usual‌ ‌jingles‌ ‌that‌ ‌I‌ ‌learned‌ ‌from‌ ‌friends‌ ‌or‌ ‌having‌ ‌the‌ ‌tv‌ ‌on‌ ‌as‌ ‌background‌ ‌noise‌ ‌later‌ ‌in‌ ‌life,‌ ‌but‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌extent‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌Sesame‌ ‌Street‌ ‌knowledge.‌ ‌Rather‌ ‌than‌ ‌spending‌ ‌my‌ ‌time‌ ‌watching‌ ‌television‌ ‌or‌ ‌playing‌ ‌video‌ ‌games,‌ ‌I‌ ‌often‌ ‌found‌ ‌myself‌ ‌outside‌ ‌with‌ ‌friends‌ ‌and‌ ‌enjoying‌ ‌our‌ ‌face‌ ‌to‌ ‌face‌ ‌time.‌ ‌Relationships‌ ‌are‌ ‌just‌ ‌as‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌me‌ ‌today‌ ‌as‌ ‌they‌ ‌were‌ ‌back‌ ‌then.‌ ‌ ‌

Fast forward to today’s world where I find myself trying to navigate parenting two teenagers and working very hard to embrace the future of technology in both my home and in the classroom.  As a parent and educator, I can agree with Postman’s idea of how the school environment has become a place where we constantly have to entertain our students in order to keep them engaged as learners. I have even heard from my own children how boring school is and how all they do is read and write. It kills me to know that neither of my own children are avid readers (in the traditional sense) as they don’t have the attention span to be still and quiet while reading a book. They would much rather read online or watch a youtube video to educate themselves on their latest fascinations. I just can’t help but think about how my children would have ever survived in the days with nothing to constantly entertain themselves, but each other….or even worse, just a boring old teacher standing at the front of the classroom!  Curious to know more about Postman’s literature, I took some time to dig a little deeper into the context of his book. I would have never anticipated that he wrote Amusing Ourselves To Death in 1985.  Had he only known about how technology would look in the classroom today!

Last week’s presentation opened my eyes to how much I have been missing out on when it comes to utilizing technology effectively in the classroom.  When we were asked to share in Flipgrid how we see AV technology used in the classroom, I had flashbacks of the tv and vcr cart rolling into the room back in the day and could only think of the basics (like the whiteboard and smart boards) currently being used in my school. Lisa, Caleigh, Tammy and Tarina proved that, “The importance of audio visual (AV) technology in education should not be underestimated. There are two reasons for this; one, learning via AV creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning; two, we live in an audio-visual age which means that having the skills to use AV equipment is integral to future employment prospects. Therefore exposure to AV technology in education is imperative.” I found this reading that they shared to be of great value when determining what the role of an educator really looks like today. It is important to engage our learners and introduce them to the many pathways and tools that are available for them to display their learning in a fashion that is meaningful to them. The relationships that are built with the students are the foundation of their learning. It is still up to the educators to facilitate the learning process (in whatever way that may be) in a safe environment where each individual can thrive and learn how to be contributing digital citizens.

In the Important of audio visual technology in education article that was shared last week, it stated, “Children are exposed from a young age to a range of other AV technologies, which previous generations were not. This includes the television, DVDs, iPods, Nintendo Wiis, computer games and the Internet.” If the goal of education is to create future contributing members of society, then we as educators need to continue to update and change our teaching practices. This is easier said than done with all of the additional stressors placed on us, especially during a pandemic and the lack of funding to education.  I believe that now more than ever, it is important for us to connect with our colleagues and allow time for collaboration to enhance our own learning and the learning of our students. 

With this challenge in mind, many of us may need to rethink how we see smartphones and personal devices fitting into our classrooms or schools.  Each school year always seems to begin with this dilemma and the staff discussion of the pros and cons of why we would allow them in the classroom. Personally, I used to be against students having access to them during the day.  I have recently begun to think differently as I continue to learn more about how technology can be used to enhance the learning experience of students and what the future holds for them. With the lack of technology provided to many of our schools, it seems that for some, bringing their own devices is the only option.  In some environments, this may require much more teacher supervision, yet for others, it may not be as necessary. I don’t think there is a one size fits all option when it comes to using personal devices in the classroom.  When used in a responsible fashion, I feel these personal devices can be a true asset to their learning.

As I begin to change my philosophies of learning and the use of technology in the classroom, I am grateful for the great presentation on Tuesday. Many great ideas were shared that will allow me to get started. Audiovisual technology will now be used to compliment my teaching and engage my learners in ways that I have never imagined possible. I can’t wait for the class presentations to come. I am sure there will be many more tools for me to add to my toolbox!

Before Adopting Classroom Technology, Figure Out Your Goals GIF by Webby  Giants | Gfycat
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The Wonderful World of Extensions!

Let me begin by saying that last Tuesday’s class was a game changer for me!  I must thank Alec for taking us on a trip down memory lane with the many educational games from our past and allowing us the time for some exploration. I was even pretty darn proud of myself when I was able to code and actually create something!  So many firsts for me, including all of the excitement with extensions……

Prior to Tuesday, I had never taken the time to investigate the world of extensions and how they can help me as an educator.  As I am no longer in a classroom and work mostly in small group instruction, I haven’t felt the need or urge to further educate myself in this area. I am beginning to realize that I couldn’t have been more incorrect with my thinking.  Each class I seem to be learning more of what I have been missing out on!  Not only because I could be using these extensions as an educator, but as a learner myself and also as a mom.  

Grammarly is one of the few extensions that I had previously given thought to.  Why hadn’t I used it yet?  I don’t know? I suppose my busy life has left me wondering why I don’t know much about anything that we are learning.  I am grateful for this opportunity to switch things up and finally understand what I have been missing and to start using it both in my professional and personal life.  

The Mote extension was one that captured my attention right away.  I can see how it would be a great way to add feedback to not only student assignments but also to work documents used by my staff. Since the pandemic started, we as administrators decided to utilize Google Classroom so we too could model for our staff and help them to understand that we are learning in this new world alongside them.  Should I have known about this extension earlier, I would have definitely tried out the voice note option on the Google sheets and documents to convey messages to the staff in an easier and more efficient way.  Then I looked at this through a learning resource teacher lens.  How amazing would it have been for our students to hear our voices and be able to feel more connected with us?   This could be a great tool for our diverse learners.  How about our EAL learners and their grown-ups who were trying their best to navigate online learning in a new country?  There are many languages that your comments can be translated into.  My wonder is if the translations would be accurate and allow the learners to understand fully what was said? I have heard some entertaining stories about Google Translate bloopers!

On a personal level, I am most ecstatic about the Distraction-Free Youtube extension.  I have always been apprehensive about using Youtube at school because you just never know what will pop up. 

After I tried this out, I can quickly see how this will allow me to be more focused and allow for better use of my time.  There is so much less distraction and clutter.  And now I don’t have to be scared when showing videos to my staff and students!  Speaking of clutter…. How amazing is the Mercury Reader?  No more ads to steal my attention, just a clean and concise article to read. Next best thing since an actual newspaper in your hands!  

I could go on and on with my excitement of these “new to me” extensions. Especially thankful for my classmate, Megan, who even shared extensions to save money while shopping! Or Shelby’s idea of using Google Read and Write to give feedback while looking through projects or assignments.  I love the idea of not having to stop to write it down.  Until now, I have only ever had students use the Read and Write option.  I am eager to keep reading more of my colleague’s great blogs and to be able to add to my bag of tricks!

So Many Learning Theories….

Source: http://gph.is/28WREYf

As I took time this week to ponder what my own teaching philosophies look like now versus over the course of my teaching career, I found myself a little overwhelmed with the terminology, especially ALL of the options on the Learning Map shared in class.  As overwhelmed as I was, I felt the need to know more and dig deeper.  After spending time on the suggested readings and doing some of my own research, I realized that for me, my classroom practices may have changed, but my belief system has held steady.

I believe that no matter who those students are that sit in front of you at the start of each year, or wherever it is that they have come from, the first and most valuable lesson is that of relationships.  Before I can begin to plan for these children, I need to take the time to build and strengthen the relationships that I share with them.  Until I know more about each of them personally and just how it is that they learn best, I cannot begin to plan accordingly. We can go through the motions and I can teach how I feel is the best way,  but is it really meaningful to the students?

I remember after my first year of teaching thinking that I was the best teacher ever!  My students were all very academically inclined and they showed such growth that year.  I had a small, studious group who thrived on a more experiential learning process.  Together we grew in ways I could never imagine.   And then there was year two……..My class was overflowing and I had 18 IIP’s and an abundance of behaviours to deal with.  Did my teaching practices change that year? You bet they did!  I was still new to the profession and had an abundance of great ideas. However, in order to survive without the knowledge that I have now gained through my many years of experience, I may have used some theories that wouldn’t have been my first choice.   In the article, Skinner’s Teaching Machine by Abhishek Solanki, it is stated that “one of the biggest challenges in the field of education is to provide individualized and tailor-made programs for each individual on a massive scale.” Without the knowledge and experience I have today, including strong classroom management skills, I found this to be incredibly true.  It was certainly a challenge to try to plan to ensure each child learned in a way that was meaningful to them while maintaining a safe learning environment for all. 

Fast forward 20 years and I can see that a lot has changed for me.  I haven’t had my own classroom for 12 years, but when I do have the opportunity to co-teach with many of my colleagues, I find that most of the lessons are embedded with the Constructivist Theory discussed in class. 

This image reminds me of myself using WordPress!

The key is ensuring the information is relevant to the students and allow for collaboration to build on their prior knowledge.  Once we have those relationships formed with our students and we know what is relevant to them, the opportunities are endless!  Well, as endless as the time we as educators have to plan 😊 This is where I see a shift in my practices.  Learning more about the Connectivism approach, I can see how this theory could engage so many of today’s learners. In the article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens, it is stated that “Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people.”  Allocating time and encouraging our educators to connect with their colleagues is key!  Communities of practice are a great opportunity for both students and teachers alike.  I look forward to more networking and gaining a better understanding of how connectivism can best be shared with my staff and students. I hope you find this last visual as informative as I did. I have really enjoyed the articles and information shared by many of you on Twitter. Who knew I would have learned so much on my new Twitter adventure!

https://wegrowteachers.com/5-ways-school-can-21st-century-school/

My Thoughts on Educational Technology…The Past vs The Present

Well, here it is… My first blog post ever! After reading many of this week’s articles, I can’t help but think of how different my understanding of what educational technology is today in the urban setting than it was when I attended school in a rural community.  Today I feel that educational technology can be defined as how technology is used by our students and their educators to enhance their educational experience both in the classroom and at home.   There are so many ways to engage students in the classroom in this digital era.  My own children are prime examples of how technology in the classroom has given them the foundations of success in this techy world. 

This leads me to why I feel less adequate in this area than many of my colleagues and even my own children. I grew up in a time where in my small town, we were blessed with one computer lab in our school and the main focus was information processing (aka…learning how to type). Definitely a needed skill that I am grateful for, but unfortunately it was not one that transferred into any other part of my education at that time as I didn’t come from a privileged home who could afford a computer or that great dial up internet!  In fact my next formal education in technology did not come until university.  I remember feeling just as much of a fish out of water then as I do now. 

The discussion from our last class continues to resonate with me. The references to how we were educated as children and the lack of creativity that was used in the classroom in the past.  Our discussion touched on how essay writing and note taking was a main form of learning in the classroom. For me, writing was my strength and where my creativity bloomed, but that was the extent of it.  The learning that I participated in was so rote and safe that I had no idea what to do when I needed to think out of the box and create in ways that weren’t “normal” for me.  To this day, I still feel instant anxiety when I am asked to use technology in a way other than what I am used to.

Fast forward to my observations as a mom and an educator. I feel blessed that my children have been able to take part in the connected ed classroom.  Their learning and education truly has been enhanced by both the luxury of having a device at their fingertips in the classroom and having the privilege of having all sorts of technological devices and programs in our home.  Their educators have taught them so many more ways to be creative online than I ever could have imagined.  It almost seems effortless for them. This brings me great joy for my own children, but makes my heart ache for those who have less of an opportunity to learn the basics of digital citizenship let alone be able to unleash their creative side in the digital world.

I have spent the bulk of my career working in an urban community school, where the capacity to provide technology to the students was limited.  The equity in our schools is just not there yet! Now that I am able to see the technological education that my children receive versus what students receive elsewhere, I feel incredibly unsettled, but motivated to work towards finding equitable technology opportunities in our city. I too had no access to technology at home as a child and I see how that has formed what kind of learner I was. Audrey Watters referenced this tragedy in her article, “The 100 Worst Ed Debacles of the Decade,” (2019) but this has not just become a problem in the last decade.  In fact, as I think more deeply about this issue, I see that it has hindered me as an educator as well.  With little to no technology available to use regularly, I spent my time developing other areas professionally and never felt the need to grow in the area of educational technology. Of course, that is until the pandemic hit our classrooms!