Putting Covid in the Rearview Mirror

The end of the school year is always a time for a deep sigh. Let’s be honest…more so this school year. But for the last few years, the end of school has been a time of reflection for me. I wrote about these reflections in the past, https://edtechease.com/2020/06/12/reflections/ and https://edtechease.com/2020/02/02/year-end-reflections/.  The first was a reflection on my first year in a new school environment after many years at my previous school. The second was more geared to how I could take what I had learned during Covid quarantine into a new school year with new Covid procedures looming. But the bottom line reflection for both was that relationships are the key to school success. 

This spring I am putting Covid in my rearview mirror and looking forward but first a little refelction. Regardless of wearing masks, I am grateful for having had in-person learning in both of my client schools. A few of my grateful reflection highlights:

  • Being able to give ‘air high 5’s’ while looking at a student has been better than giving them over Zoom. 
  • Not having students miss instructional time (always an issue when zooming).
  • Still celebrating holidays but with some Covid guidelines in place.
  • Seeing students have social interactions at recess instead of on a screen.
  • Seeing the literacy levels of my elementary students soar! This was a multi-year goal. Now on to math.
  • Starting a 4th/5th grade girls advisory that I will continue next year. 
  • Having end of year celebrations in-person!

Moving my eyes from the rearview to the road ahead…goals for the next school year:

  • Adding in Digital Citizenship Goals for each grade level.
    • Digital Citizenship will be my PD focus for the teachers in my client schools next year.
  • Scheduling weekly model lessons for several grade levels at the start of school rather than add them in later in the year. 
  • Doing a better job at not canceling weekly teacher meetings. Seemed to happen too often. 
  • Being flexible as I support the new high school in their inaugural year.

I am also grateful that this summer will not be spent creating Covid policies but rather focusing on curriculum redesigns and a Writing Book Study with teachers. Both of which will benefit students’ educational growth. 

What things have you placed in your rearview mirror? Let me know through Twitter or Instagram (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, swladis@edtechease.com.

Show What YOU Know

That is the theme of our achievement testing week. 

And before I go any further… yes… my two current client schools are having the students do an achievement test. Both are private schools that have been in person all school year. Both have been able to have strict covid guidelines and maintain in person classes. So it was decided to have the achievement testing this year. Unlike many public schools, these private schools are able to use the results of achievement testing as academic growth indicators and growth over time checks. Not as criterion for retention.

Ok, my slight rant is done. 

Show What You Know! Shouldn’t that always be what we are asking students to do on any assessment? In trying to reduce test anxiety, these schools are reminding students that what they know is what we want to know

Next up, parents. This is what we published in our weekly newsletter prior to achievement testing:

How to talk to your child about achievement testing…

  • Deep breaths help to clear your mind when a question is tough.
  • Show What You Know, that is all we want you to do.
  • Don’t leave any questions blank, take your best guess.
  • This test does not tell us how smart you are, it just tells us that you have made progress this year. 
  • Try your best and that is all we want you to do always!

Yesterday had a conversation with the high school girls I work with. When we discussed their achievement teting schedule, one girl asked, ‘Do I need to stress over these?’ The answer I gave is ‘no, this is only one way we monitor your growth this year.’ I hope she heard me.  

How is your school handling  achievement testing this year and progress monitoring?  Checkout another recent blog post on Catching Up, https://edtechease.com/2021/03/29/catching-up/. Let me know through Twitter or Instagram (@edtechease) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/) or email me, swladis@edtechease.com.

Changing Perspective

So I have written about perspective before, https://edtechease.com/2020/02/02/perspective/. In that blog piece I touched on how I use perspective in school.  But I have been thinking more about perspective the last few weeks. It came fully to my attention this week when talking to a student’s parents. They told me how their daughter was feeling about her class. I did not agree with how the student was relating her experiences in class. But I stopped myself from arguing and instead said “her perception is her reality.” And this is true. Regardless as to how the teachers are approaching supporting this student in class, if she is not feeling this support, then the support is only partially working. 

Often, perspective comes into my office when I have two (or more) students who visit because of a conflict. My procedure is to give each student the opportunity to talk uninterrupted. My hope is that the other child(ren) will hear the perspective of the child talking. Usually, I need to guide all the children in “seeing” and acknowledging the other perspective(s). But learning to look at other points of view takes practice and patience. Practice for students and adults. Patience by me, teachers, and other adults. 

For those who follow me on Instagram (@edtechease), I routinely look for, and post, book recommendations. Recently on Instagram, I saw a post that included a variety of books and Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld was one.

I was intrigued and ordered it. I was a bit disappointed when I received it because it was a board book. In my experience, elementary students equate board books with preschool and will dismiss the book. That was not what I had intended when I bought it. But just looking at the cover, I changed my mind (and perspective). This would be great to project at a faculty meeting to start a conversation about perspective! I will confess to first seeing the Rabbit. But with an adjustment to my eyes (and my perspective) I saw the Duck. After school one afternon this past week,  I had it on my desk and when another admin’s daughter came by, I asked her what she saw. She said the Rabbit. I asked her if she could see something else and she said no. With some conversation and direction, she did see the Duck. Her little Kindergarten sister walked by and when asked, she saw the Duck first. With some hints to where to look for the ears, she saw the Rabbit. Finally, we asked the oldest sister and honestly as I write I do not remember which she saw, but it did take some time for her to see the other one. In fact she read several of the pages before she changed her perspective enough to see the other character. 

These encounters with the book just confirm my thoughts on using this as a Literature Lasso. A book to lasso teachers’ and students’ attention to the idea of perspective. Then discuss perspective taking from a neutral, non-personal direction. I will continue to tryand see student’s perspectives as well as my colleagues. Because as I said, this takes practice and patience. 

Looking for other Literature Lassos? Check out my Padlet: https://padlet.com/swladis3/xh6aytbp3ht  or follow me in one of the ways below. 

Let me know how you discuss perspective or use perspective when talking with students.

swladis@edtechease.com (email)

@edtechease (Twitter and Instagram)

www.edtechease.com (website)