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Shutdown Learning

June 3, 2020

What are your thoughts and experiences?

I Invited past Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team members to answer 4 questions – both personal and professional. Each day this week another set of answers is being posted. Today’s blog post includes answers to number 2. Please don’t hesitate to share your answers to the 4 questions. To the teachers who responded (so far) – THANK YOU for your honesty and sharing your new reality. One word that came up for me as I read your responses was BRAVERY! I am grateful that you’re being brave for the learners across the state!

  1. Name one thing that has been an ‘ah-ha’ moment for you during ‘teaching away from school’? One success.
  2. What have you learned that you didn’t know before the school shut down?
  3. What are you doing to bring yourself joy/to take care of yourself?
  4. When this is all over – what do you imagine might be a positive that comes from the pandemic?

SHUTDOWN LEARNING 

  • How resilient the children are and how important intrinsic motivation is. It will lead us through challenging times. High engagement and strong independent voices and projects occurred despite the disconnect, carried forward with the knowledge the students were in charge of their learning. ~LINDSAY PINCHBECK
  • The opportunity for teachers to clarify on the spot is somewhat diminished in the virtual “classroom”, so I have found I need to be much more mindful about what I am presenting and how it might be “read” by students. Having said that I find, just as I did 5-6 years ago when I started doing “virtual critiques” on Google+, that students were much more likely to use the “chat box when asked to offer an opinion. ~CHARLIE JOHNSON
  • I have learned that our school is more than just a vital part of the town. It is truly the heart of the community. We deliver meals weekly by bus to any families in need K-12. We are providing books for each student, as well as sending home learning packets that the bus driver and school nurse deliver to homes. One member of the community is donating masks she has made to the school for anyone who needs one. People are reaching out to one another to check that people are okay, and our superintendent is one of those who reaches out. Everyone is so grateful for the school, the staff, and each other. It is so heartwarming. ~JENNI NULL
  • My “bag of tricks” has certainly grown. I think when we do return to school I will find it much easier to differentiate instruction for my students using new technology that I have learned and relied so heavily on throughout this experience. ~JEN ETTER
  • I’m a technological dinosaur, and a proclaimed skeptic of social media. I still don’t have a Facebook account because I really don’t care what anyone is having for dinner,  and am pretty sure they don’t care what we’re having either. However…this virus has taught me how important social media is…I Zoom with my classes, but also hosted my Mom’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for a virtual 89th birthday party. On the other hand, I have heard from kids and families, about how much they miss us.  Sadly, for some of these kids, we are the only people who are nice to them each day. ~SUE BEAULIER
  • I am going through my certification for ESL teaching, and I was toying with the idea of possibly beginning by teaching online. I now realize after teaching online for the last several weeks that this is not for me. As a teacher I need the physical energy of live students, the vitality, spirit and spontaneous reactions one can only foster through live in person interactions. I love and need the dynamics of a live classroom!!!!
    ~ CARMEL COLLINS
  • I contacted three composers who have written works my choruses are studying and each one of them has agreed to be interviewed by my students in a ZOOM meeting! I’ve created online platforms to help them examine the music, think about techniques the artist has used, passages for them to explore and sing, personal thoughts to ponder about the work, and then they are creating videos to ask their questions of the composer which helps them practice the technique they will use in our official upcoming interview. ~KRIS BISSON
  • Did you know you can change the narration speed in Audible? It’s true. You can also mute kids while teaching them on zoom. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, to let go the things I cannot control, and to take advantage of free online accounts during pandemics. Oh, and where to find all the really good, free webinars. ~Kate Smith
  • Students are not as tech savvy as I had assumed. I am often leading them through some basics of recording etc…. ~SUE BARRE
  • One major skill I’ve gained is the use of Google classroom to post assignments, grade work, and video conference with my students. I am also learning how to use computer apps on the students’ laptops as art tools, like Google drawings and SketchBook, so that my students can continue to create art at home. I also learned how to utilize the Padlet site to set up visual display boards as a means for students to share their artwork and respond to each other’s art. ~HOPE LORD
  • I have learned to be better at prioritizing myself. It is natural for teachers to always feel the need to do more; it is hard to draw a line. Now that I have a family, it is easier to see the importance of finding and maintaining balance. ~SHANNON WESTPHAL
  • The importance of social gathering and interaction in person and that teaching is harder from a distance then in a classroom. I know that is obvious but it has been a bit more of a challenge. On the other hand, using Google classroom allows for more time for individual feedback. ~JEFFREY ORTH
  • I didn’t know how much I’d miss my kids. Especially now, the 5th graders. I may never see some of them again and it’s distressing. I’ll have to spend all of my spare time at Hannaford when this is over in hopes of running into them. ~ALLIE RIMKUNAS
  • As an art teacher I’ve had to think in a broader way about how best to teach not just art but how to teach students to think creatively. I’ve allowed more independent thinking than I do in my classroom because students bring a wider diversity of materials, time and understanding while working with a packet. They have pleasantly surprised me with their ingenuity. ~GLORIA HEWETT
  • Tech, Tech, Tech and Why to Make Time for It Outside of Class
    Taking the time to learn how to build websites and completing them for each of the two art rooms I teach at in Auburn!  Peek at the Week Learning Targets and Lesson Ideas along with fun at home skill building ideas without expensive art supplies can be posted along with highlights of our art programs such as YAM events. ~LYNDA LEONAS
  • I didn’t know how to use Google Classroom or Zoom which since the pandemic is required, I am learning them and plenty of other sites that are being shared with me. We are all helping each other out. ~HOLLY LEIGHTON
  • I feel like I’ve learned so much in such a short time as we’ve had to totally reinvent our profession literally overnight. At first I was surprised to learn (and be overwhelmed) by how many resources were out there and being offered to us to support continued music education. I’ve learned the importance of just taking a chance and trying something to see if it fits my teaching situation and my students. Just because one product or approach works in one school, doesn’t mean it will work for my students. A specific learning I’ve gained is what a powerful tool the product “Smartmusic” is for the instrumental music program. I had heard about this over the years, but never had the chance to explore it. Now I’m finding it a great tool to provide to students that can give them options to go in any musical direction of their choosing, and a great method of bringing a professional, full ensemble into their personal practice space. ~ BILL BUZZA
  • I think like most educators I have become very well versed in Zoom, or any video chat platform. I have tried to keep this connection with kids because I believe it is important for their social development and mental health. I am definitely slowing down which I am sure is a welcome change of pace for the kids. Trying to be more intuitive to their needs in this complicated time. ~EMMA CAMPBELL
  • I have learned how to set up and use my YouTube Channel, how to use Zoom, how to use SoundTrap and upload. Google Classroom has been wonderful. ~JANE KIRTON
  • I had no idea how to teach music lessons virtually. All of my experience has involved hands-on, in-person learning with children. It has been an enormous learning curve and has felt unnatural, but thanks to social media, professional organizations, and virtual workshops, I have been able to break through to get the job done. I am so grateful for colleagues, across the state and nation, who are willing to share activities, help troubleshoot technology, and problem solve with each other. I know that I wouldn’t have fared quite so well if it weren’t for this support. ~DORIE TRIPP
  • I would have to say I am very impressed with the capabilities of the technology we have been thrown into using, but have also become more aware of the inequities of access in our communities. I am very aware of the broad range of socio economic differences within our communities, but assumed that most people had access to online resources given the progression of technologies in the 21st century. While I still think there is some access, such as through a smartphone, it has become increasingly clear that many of our students do not have the access necessary to utilize the learning opportunities we are resorting to use.  I think and hope that this situation has helped many people gain access to quality online educational resources, and hope that the organizations that have helped make that happen will continue.  ~ANTHONY LUFKIN
  • I learned-in a real way- how important my colleagues were to me-(the other unified arts teachers) for support, collaboration and brainstorming.  I always knew that we were a strong team, but I was in awe of how we came together. ~DANETTE KERRIGAN
  • I’ve learned to Zoom, use Google Classroom and Google Meets, develop a website in WIX, send a Google Form to my students finding out what they have for materials at home they could use for sculpture. I found out everyone has pencils and nail polish. I learned to be flexible with art concepts and use the materials at home. My courses are so material and tool based that I had to forget about that completely and come at it from a different place. Not going to lie, this is hard! Students want to work with their hands so I have been thinking about how they can design with what they have readily available with no stress for the families.  ~LEAH OLSON
  • Throughout this experience (by watching my daughter and son, who attend two different high schools),  I have learned how very different communities and educational focuses vary within our state.  ~DIANNE FENLASON
  • I have learned many things every single day. Although I am now a Digital Learning Coordinator, I have learned from other educators about various online tools, ability to deliver content more effectively and how to really support my staff efficiently. ~BARB VINAL
  • What I have learned is that many of our students do not have internet access at home and they do not  have a device to access online remote learning. What I hope comes out of this as a state is that we find a way to provide internet access and devices to students to make learning more equitable. Especially thinking ahead to next year and how long remote learning might last.  ~SAMANTHA ARMSTRONG
  • I’ve learned that my students (and their families) are resilient and flexible. I’ve learned that my co-workers and administrators are extremely supportive. I feel very blessed to work in my district. People have been reaching out to one another in a myriad of ways and it’s truly heartwarming. ~ANDREA WOLLSTADT
  • Personally, I have learned to bake bread. It is both a lot easier and a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. Professionally, I have learned a lot in regards to both technology and learning to let go of things. Before this I had participated in video conferencing, setting appointments in Google Calendar, and I used Google Classroom, but now it’s normal to host multiple meetings per day. It has become the new
    normal to be sitting with my phone to check emails, one laptop to be running a meeting, and possibly a second laptop to be reviewing notes and materials while also entertaining a baby. Technology is an amazing thing, but knowing where to draw the line is really important. I may be comfortable with it, but that doesn’t mean my students or colleagues are. It also doesn’t mean that at my fourth or fifth meeting of the day I am as energized as I was for the first. Sometimes it ends up being more important to know when too much is too much and to communicate to others when one’s limits are near to being hit. In this new normal where we can constantly be putting so much of ourselves into devices and technology to help others, it’s important to know when to stop and take care of ourselves.~IVA DAMON
  • Good leadership is compassionate, flexible, informed, and hits the ground running! I am incredibly grateful for the decision-making taking place in my school district, at the MDOE, and the State House. The creative ways they have found to support students and teachers has been remarkable. ~LISA INGRAHAM
  • How critical “learning environment” is to student success. I’ve always cognitively known that, but I’ve really internalized it since we’ve been at home. It is quite honestly the linchpin that holds everything else together… never appreciated that to the degree that I do now. ~ROB WESTERBERG

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