Admittedly things were a bit unusual yesterday at ParaEducate. Renay was back dealing with a hybrid schedule with students and well, Monday got eaten up. So we post on a Tuesday.
To give you a little perspective of how quickly things turned around for Renay, a week ago: Renay was still distance teaching and learning with the students. There was training. But no amount of training really would explain what would happen yesterday.
So for those of you who have not gone back yet, or those who have returned and re-returned, and re-returned, some thoughts.
- We know that technology has been working overtime since last March. And some districts managed to upgrade technology to better support a variety of hybrid learning that will occur in many settings. It may work. It may not work. It may have worked yesterday and magically stopped working tomorrow. It is all right. We can figure it all out.
- It is the First Day of School all over again. Kids are nervous. You will be exhausted for all the millions of things you are trying to remember and get across to the students.
- Have that plan for the students who do not have coping skills for things that require flexibility. Build that into every moment. Make it a part of the lesson. And that will just be a go-to when things aren’t going right.
Hybrid is not easy for teachers or paraeducators. It is all too easy to turn your attention to the bodies who share the room with you and forget everyone else. Some thoughts about breaking up the spaces.
- Decide which students are going to get attention how. Is this a co-teaching situation where one person can develop skills to go between the students who are distance and students who are in front? Is this one person takes the written chat and the other person handles the verbal?
- If your situation mandates you [adult] needs to maintain six feet of spacing from the students, what does that look like?
- Groups? Should they be a mix of in person or distance? Should they be just distance verses in person? Figure it out. But either way: headphones. We suggest wired headphones because they force the person to acknowledge their device, and we know that the head phones do not require charging.
The thing we miss
It is okay to miss things about going into hybrid. Unlike Distance Learning: we knew we were not making a physical connection with our students. Hybrid is the worse sort of challenge especially for students who have developed a need for physical redirection or who need physical feedback that comes from high-fives and fist bumps. We thought we’d be all right. We find this challenge more disappointing that wearing masks while teaching, than technology being uncooperative, or the rushed feeling that happens with every single class.
Yes we know some teachers have returned to high-fives and other forms of physical social praise. We decided not to. Some of our students are not vaccine eligible because they are not sixteen yet. Other students are very immune compromised and we just could not put their families with a potential risk. No amount of hand washing can help that right now.
Something to consider…
No matter where you are personally: this moment in the classroom is a definite mark in history. We still wonder what best practices will rise to the top and not just be a fad or a solution for one moment in time.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.