Monday, June 28, 2021

My Year of Teaching Virtually


I hated virtual teaching.

I said it. I hated it.

You think it would have been easy because I am considered "tech-savvy." Integrating tech when I teach is second nature for me. So, this should have been easy. Right?

Except, I hated it.

We started our mornings with our 5 minute Waiting Room, then moved on to our Virtual Morning Meeting. We played games on Gimkit, Quizizz, 99Math, and all the new and improved sites that were meant to engage the students in the square boxes.

We created books on Book Creator, went on virtual field trips, (even made homemade ice cream), collaborated on Jamboard and in Breakout Rooms, and worked on assignments posted in Schoology

I worked hard to make sure the year was not a loss. (As so many seem to think. I beg to differ..)

But, something was missing.

The best tech in the world couldn't replace it.

The greeting at the door.

The buzz as students greeted friends and got ready for the day.

The gathering at the kidney table, for those who needed just a little more help.

Raised hands. "Real" ones.

Laughter. (These kids didn't laugh on ZOOM, no matter how corny my jokes were.)

The scrape of moving chairs.

Hugs.

Field trips. Outside. In buildings.

Walking down the hall.

Working. (Me seeing you working, or not.)

Social interactions. Aaaah yes, social interactions!

I have a few years of teaching left, and I hope I never have to teach virtually again. 

My year of teaching virtually. Hated it!



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Courtesy of Canva: Classroom Yearbook


I wanted my virtual students to have a yearbook. As a 5th grade team, we created a 5th grade yearbook with Snapfish, but I wanted them to have a CLASS yearbook. It wouldn't be filled with pictures of all the wonderful things we did together, because...we were together on a computer, but I still wanted to put something together.

What did I put in a yearbook for a virtual class, you ask?

Page 1- Cover with image of the our school

Page 2- Message from the Teacher

Page 3- Messages they sent me during Teacher Appreciation Week. (Clipped Jamboard stickies.)

Page 4- Message from the Class President

Page 5 - Recognition/Awards

Page 6 - "Remember When...? I asked my students to name their favorite memories.

Page 7+ We placed a quote the students chose, or made up, and their favorite memory from elementary school,on our Celebration slides. I just copied and pasted them onto the Canva page. I gave thestudents access to, "A Quotation a Day", document. I also included 2 pictures, sent by their parents,one as an infant or toddler, and a recent picture.

Page 26 - A graphic about 6th grade and a box titled,"Personal Message from Mrs.Mims." I only had 18 students, so writing the messages didn't take too much time.

The yearbook is pretty basic, because I was short on time, but it really looked good. I used the color copier, and 32 lb paper. Check out the sample. I used my pics to demonstrate p.7, I wish I had thought to do that in their yearbook.:)

I worked on the yearbook for about a week. I chose a Canva template, and if you have ever used Canva,you know that it is pretty easy to use. If you are new to Canva, they have a tutorial to introduce you to the features.

Take advantage of the FREE CANVA Educator plan they offer.

I am looking forward to creating one next year when I am back with my students in "real life.":)

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Head, Shoulders, No Knees and Toes. Teaching Virtually.


I miss my class. :( 

I miss being with my class. 

I see them every day, cameras, on, cameras off. A glimpse here, a glimpse there.

I saw them once, some of them, when they met me at the school to pick up their "gifts" I got from DonorsChoose. 

We saw each other in "real life!" So exciting!

I miss getting up and going out the door, fighting traffic, road raging at those who wish to make me late.

I miss rushing to get ready because I am not the teacher who is there an hour before school starts.

I miss chatting with my colleagues.

I miss high-fiving my students and teaching them that saying "Good Morning" when someone says it to you is normal.

I miss my planning time that moves at twice the speed of light.

I miss small group at the kidney table. Small group in class vs. Breakout rooms? Small group wins every. time.

I miss moving between and around  desks.

I miss my gorgeous carpet, along with all the flexible seating you could ask for!

I miss students at desks, on the couch, at the standing desk, the rocking chair,...

I miss the snow falling while we are still at school, and everyone, including me, being distracted.

I miss my name called one thousand, two thousand times a day.

I miss having my students actually complete their work because I am there. I am present. 

I miss the dropping off, and the picking up of my students, constantly, throughout the day.

I miss the secretary's smile and cheerful greeting.

Once I get back, I will probably yearn for the time I was home.

I know it is what is best. I know I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to teach from home.

But still, I miss my class.

I miss being with my class.:(

Monday, February 15, 2021

"Outside the Topic" Student Connections in a Virtual World.



It's funny how students take things you say every day and turn it into "a thing."

Every morning I share the Morning Meeting slide with my class. (I tweaked someone else's template).I always try to connect the topic to the National Day or things that are going on in the world.  In order to give my class a chance to talk about what they want to talk about, I would say,"Who has something to share outside of the topic?

Well, one day, I forgot to say this."Ummm, Mrs.Mims, we didn't share outside the topic!" 

And thus, "Outside the Topic" was born.

Student voice. Student Choice.

In this virtual world, we have to give them something. 

Give them a chance to talk about anything, and (almost)everything, they want.
From the heartwrenching share about a mom's battle with thyroid cancer, watching the basement renovation unfold with daily updates, as well as listening to the devastation caused by fallng into lava and losing everything!  (Minecraft,people😀). He cried that night,but then he got over it by playing a different game.

It's just a way, every day, for my kids to be themselves.

A way we can connect, outside the topic.


Saturday, January 23, 2021

We Are Not Superheroes, We Are Teachers.(Poem dedicated to teachers everywhere!)

I tell you, Amanda Gorman, really inspired me. I haven't written a poem in years!


We are not  Superheroes.

We cannot leap 

Tall buildings in a single bound.

But, we can leap over obstacles

placed in the way

Of us "being best".

We cannot run at the speed of light.

But, watch how quickly we can

Pivot.

Virtual, Hybrid, Face to Face.

We do not have laser beams that shoot from our eyes.

But,

These eyes. 

Can shoot

Love,

Compassion,

Smiles, you can't see behind a mask.

They can convey

"Excuse me?" 

In any language.

We don't have super hearing.

But, we could hear our teaching career calling from far, far away.

These ears always hear what was said, even if it's muttered.

We can't lift a car.

But we can lift our students,

so that they meet our

high,

higher,

highest expectations.

Lift them out of whatever they may be feeling, 

that has them down.

If even for a moment.

Our body is not impervious to weapons.

But, foolishness from

Kids?

Parents?

Admin?

And those who know absolutely nothing about teaching?

We let it bounce off and come back stronger.

We are not SuperHeroes. 

We don't wear, or need, a cape.

We can suffer... emotionally and physically,

Just like you.

We are not your SuperHeroes.

We are TEACHERS.

Written by Lisa Mims

1/23/2021