Our Distance Learning Journey - Week Two Reflections
My ambitions for keeping this blog updated daily have obviously given way to the realities and the rigors of permanent work and home life, so I am adjusting my expectations for what I can provide in these blog posts. If you’ve been keeping score at home, I tend to talk a lot so being brief is nearly impossible for me, but I am working on it. There are so many good things to share that I don’t ever feel like a few paragraphs are enough to cover everything and everyone who is making FSHISD’s distance learning journey a success. In fact, I realized with my last post I neglected to highlight one of the most important events in our distance learning journey. More on that in a bit...
As we head into week 3, I have to ask: How are you feeling about your own journey? Are they days going by as quickly for you as they are for me? Are the days running together for you as they are for me? What an adventure this has been! As I sat down last Friday night, my 3 year old comfortably in bed and my one month old cradled in my arms, I realized just how tired I was. The adrenaline and the newness of the last few weeks was starting to wear off and I realized that I had been working on our distance learning in some form or fashion for two weeks straight and I was ready for a break!
The first week of our department and admin staff’s work was actually the second week of spring break for students and staff. Our tech department had already been working on our websites I mentioned last week, but we quickly realized that devices and at-home access was a huge need for our elementary school students. While we are 1:1 Chromebooks in 2nd-12th grade our elementary students have theirs in carts. It would be up to us to gather and prep (yes, that means sanitizing!) close to 200 Chromebooks for pick up based on parent requests. As usual our boss, Dr. Rios, already had a gameplan and away we went!
The biggest challenge was not the device prep, but how we were going to get the devices to parents. We settled on a drive-by format with an assembly line of find, check out to spreadsheet, grab charger, and deliver to parents. This was just a really cool moment for our team. I had been out on leave for the last month and with Spring Break and COVID breaking all during this time we hadn’t spent that much time together as a department in quite some time. It was so much fun! The parent response was amazing and they were so appreciative of our efforts which made our year!
Fast forward to the past week, which was week 2 of actual distance learning, I’d like to highlight a very special moment for our Cole family. Ms. Sarah Pequeno, our culinary teacher, lamented how the restaurant business has been particularly hard hit and that many of her friends had lost their jobs. She created a community hashtag called #FSHISDCookAnywhere, a play off our #FSHISDTeachAnywhere and LearnAnywhere hashtags. It has been great to see everyone’s culinary skills and to virtually break bread together. Even Dr. Bates got in on the action! (And he is definitely a pitmaster!)
One final happening this past week was a big one. Commissioner Morath announced that all Texas schools would be closing through May 4th. This is yet another extension on our remote learning, but this was not surprising nor necessarily unwelcome news for our district. Our teachers and students have done such an excellent job with maintaining a high visibility and learning in the face of COVID that this is now the new normal for us. We are hosting virtual PLCS. Our teachers are starting a cross-curricular project for students. Our elementary teachers are hosting classes with storytimes, show and tells, and other virtual learnings. In a word, our students have been ENGAGED!
Despite the circumstances, our transition has been fairly seamless. To be sure, there are many challenges that lie ahead, especially for seniors so we will see what the new week brings as far as solutions and creative approaches to some of our year-end activities and celebrations. But, I feel strongly that our teachers and staff are prepared to continue to provide an engaging learning experience for our students.
As we look forward to what is ahead, I leave you with a few To-Dos again this week:
Reflect on your distance learning journey so far. Write about it. Talk about it with a family member, neighbor, friend, or co-worker. Do a vlog. Anything form of communication is important. The more we share the more connected we will feel during this time.
Size up your habits. During this time of quarantine, old habits are dying but new habits are forming. Take a temperature check on these - the most important ones probably have nothing to do with working and learning from home. What’s important right now? Are you getting enough fresh air, exercise? Maybe it’s time to mend a broken relationship? Or just a broken fence post? Little things now can lead to big things later.
Pray. Meditate. Take some time to have some quiet time. Turn off your phone, laptop, and TV and just go sit outside and be still. This, personally, has been a tough one for me but I made a goal to do this for at least 15 minutes 4 times a week this week. This is Holy Week for me and I want to be fully engaged in this new way to experience the most important part of my faith - the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Your quiet time doesn’t have to be religiously focused, but it’s important nonetheless. How can 15 minutes of quiet time further change your perspective on our current situation?
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about our journey as much as I have telling it. Please share out, we would love to hear about yours! Tag us on Twitter - @mrtoblerstech, @drrios, @techtimewithj9 and let us know how you’re doing!