Teaching Artist & Director of the Teaching Artist Project (TAP), Community-Word Project
Katie (M.K.) Rainey has been a teaching artist for over 10 years, and has taught poetry, fiction, theatre, photography, English as a second language and filmmaking in various parts of the world. She is the winner of the 2017 Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine, the 2017 Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction from Whitefish Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lit Hub, Writer’s Digest, The Collagist, 3AM Magazine, and more. Find out more about her here: www.mkraineywriter.com.
This article is the first of three units in our “Get Set, Connect, Engage!” Back to School Series for Teachers. Today we’re focusing on how teachers can Get Set for this unusual year by creating a plan to utilize devices so they can work smarter, not harder.
You can access the other blogs in this series here:
- Get Set – With a Plan to Get the Most Out of 1:1 Devices This Year
- Connect – Teaching with a SEL Perspective to Connect with Students This Year
- Engage – How to Build Engaging Lessons for Elementary School Students Using Kiddom
- Engage – How to Build Engaging Lessons for Middle School Students Using Kiddom
Recently, I wrote blogs about self-care for teachers and social-emotional learning. I work with 9th grade students at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Jamaica, Queens and I spent the majority of last year thinking and strategizing on how to best support my students’ emotional needs, as well as my own. Reflecting on those blogs and that work last year got me thinking about preparation for this coming school year. Likely, our students will face even more difficulties and teachers will have a lot of new obstacles to face. So the more we can prepare ourselves with the technical side of teaching now, the more we can focus on our students’ well-being during the year.
As part of the “Get Set, Connect, Engage” series, today we’re focusing on how teachers can Get Set for this unusual year by creating a plan to utilize devices so they can work smarter, not harder.
We know the benefits of 1:1 devices: in the long term, they save schools money, provide great student engagement, teachers can tailor learning experiences for individual students, and improve communication between teachers and students. Additionally, 1:1 devices can prepare our students to the ever-expanding digital world that awaits them outside of school. However, if we aren’t prepared to use these devices in our classroom, set up and implementation can cause more headache than help. You can use the following guide, as well as platforms like Kiddom, to prepare your 1:1 classroom for successful blended instruction and highly engaged students.
Make a Space for Mindfulness
If a student is triggered, it can be beneficial to know what they find helpful in regulating their emotional state. We must meet the student with compassion and empathy. Having a peace, calming, or mindfulness corner that has soothing colors, images of nature, and comfortable seating is a great way for students to have a space inside the classroom to process and self regulate. This corner should not be a punitive consequence but a space students go to when they are feeling triggered or overwhelmed.
At first it may come from the teacher’s recommendation but when consistently used in a non-punitive way, students can begin to advocate for themselves and utilize the calming corner on their own. In addition, allowing students to co-create this space by decorating or adding encouraging quotes gives them a sense of ownership and belonging. Start the beginning of the year with a space that has relaxing and self-regulating items and ask students how you can make it more impactful for them.
Create More Social Space
Aside from creating a physical space to decompress, creating more social space for students will be vital this school year. Some students stayed in touch while others may have not had the opportunity to or were not comfortable.
Students have experienced a range of losses from the loss of social functions to the loss of loved ones. It can feel uncomfortable hearing about loss and we must be mindful not to engage in toxic positivity by making comments such as “well just look at the bright side”.
At the start of the school year, it will be helpful to hold welcome back circles and/or activities, such as discussions, classroom decorating time, or games. These activities may be grouped on one a day or you can create several days of social spaces that give time for students to connect, pause, reflect, and prepare for the upcoming school year.
When we give students the space to process socially and emotionally, we show that we value their well-being. If we want to serve the whole child, we must ensure that we spend intentional time listening and forming authentic connections before attempting to tackle academics and potential learning loss.
1. Know Your Framework
It’s important to have and know the framework behind your 1:1 classroom thoroughly before going into this new school year. Make sure you are familiar with logins, profiles, and navigating any programs you may use throughout the year.
Double check your school’s internet access and speed to ensure as few pauses in instruction as possible. Additionally, know what to do in case of troubleshooting. Have a plan in place in case something goes awry so that you know who to call or what to do.
Platforms like Kiddom help teachers get their framework in place by coming with lots of tools and support – and it helps that it’s so easy to use!
2. Integrate Tech Into Your Curriculum
Treat technological skill building as a part of your curriculum, rather than supplemental information. Have lessons on tech skills prepared, possibly in chunks as the semester rolls along.
This can even include creating opportunities for students to be leaders in learning by teaching their peers aspects of technology they may be skilled in.
Kiddom provides thousands of free lessons for teachers to use that will help building tech skills seamlessly.
3. Create a Culture Around Using 1:1 Devices
You can create a culture of using personal devices in the classroom through rituals and routines, making them a part of daily classwork. For instance, you can create activities students can do for bell work on their devices.
Additionally, you can keep your students prepared for blended remote and in-person learning by storing assignments in a digital place so that whether students are in person or at home, they’ll always know where to go to see new assignments.
You can use a tool like Kiddom to have students login for the first 15 minutes of class and do a few auto-graded assignments like quick quizzes to test skills learned.
4.Work Smarter, Not Harder: Use Your Videos!
If you made videos for your curriculum last year, reuse them and spend more customizing the lesson for individual students. Using your pre-recorded videos on your classroom devices is a way for you to differentiate your instruction from student to student. You can send different materials to different students privately, so that their needs are met and they are each set up for success.
Kiddom allows you to assign individual assignments and tasks to each student – you can also create videos directly in the platform, which you can save in your Planner to reuse again and again.
5. Collect That Data
Think about the data you want to collect – maybe student progress in a certain area. Think about ways in which you can track that data. Remember that bell work from earlier? You can use rituals to test your students’ mastery in different areas as the school year moves on.
Kiddom tracks standards mastery in a way that makes reading data easy, allowing you to better understand where your students are at and how you can tailor your curriculum to better suit their needs.
The biggest plus to all this preparation is that should it be necessary for schools to go back to total remote learning for a while, this checklist will make that transition much smoother.
Your students will be familiar with their digital classroom, how to view lessons and complete assignments. 1:1 classrooms don’t have to be scary, even if you consider yourself a relative novice when it comes to technology. The more you prepare yourself and your classroom for this work now, the more you can spend time on what really matters – your students!
Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.
For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.
Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?
Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.