Ebony: Hi, my name is Ebony Jones and I'm the Dean of Instruction at a charter school in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, I just want to reflect and share with you the work I did with the Workspace, and how I used it during - to support teachers - during this time that we are all remote learning.
So, of course, things happened really fast during Covid-19, and we had to adjust and determine, I had to think about how am I going to support my teachers, and how are teachers going to support students. So, after selecting what curriculum we were going to
use to support students, and teachers were given their first lesson.
We had to get things out really quickly; therefore, teachers did not get a lot of direction about how to deliver their lessons. We had a team meeting. I explained to teachers that I wanted them to set up a YouTube page, but I didn't want to create pressure around like, they must have this and this, because this is new for them, and also, I am thinking about their stress levels with everything going on. But, I wanted students to have something to support with the lessons they were receiving. Teachers were very receptive to it. I gave them just a bit of a framework, but I didn't give them much direction.
Ms. McFarland, 2nd year teacher coached by Ebony:
"Even though we can't be together I'm at least glad that we can start sharing things with each other, at least through these videos, and text messages, and all kinds of stuff. So, I hope to get in contact with you a lot more in the coming weeks."
After teachers submitted their first round of videos and links to their YouTube page, I was able to look at it, and I really viewed those lessons as a learner. So I reviewed each video from beginning to end as a learner, and I jotted down notes and determined what trends did I see. After determining what common trends I did see in the videos, for example many teachers were just speaking about their lesson, they had their papers in hand, maybe turning the paper around, maybe for the students to see. But, it wasn't student centered or friendly for students, and I was saying I wouldn't know where we were, or the teachers were just talking to the camera. And they were saying some good things, but they were just talking to the camera and uploading it.
After looking at that, I went to the Learner Variability platform. And, in my previous video I started with the factors. But this time, I started strategies. I looked at strategies, and I'm looking at these trends, and what strategies can I use to address the trends I'm seeing in these lessons. I had to narrow my focus and say "What are your must haves? What do you want to see in every lesson teachers are watching? What things do you want them to consider?"
I had to think about cutting down instructional time. My teachers were accustomed to 90 minutes. So some of the videos were very long, and so I had to think about student engagement: we can keep students' attention with a video that's 20 or 30 minutes. I also think about families. What are the resources in the home? How much access to technology do students have? Are they accessing from a phone? How many kids or students are in the home using that same phone? So, we had to consider that. I had to work with them on providing shorter chunks for that lesson.
When I think about delivery, we really focused on the "model" portion of that lesson. In that "model", what do I want to see in the "model". Think Alouds, you modeling your thought process for students, your think steps. In that model, accompanying it with a Graphic Organizer or Essential Questions on your slides. That, if a student is going to complete the rest of this assignment independently, they have a good model. They have a question that I should be thinking about as they do this, "I can create my own graphic organizer in this lesson to complete the independent practice portion of the lesson.”
So it was about equipping students to complete the assignments independently. Some students were able to send things back in or scan things and others were not. At the end of each lesson, we do have a quick check for students to check their understanding for some levels of understanding.
And then some Wait Time (strategy), just considering when to tell students to pause the video, take a moment to jot this down or to consider this specific question before moving on. That can be difficult to do when you're doing remotely and you're not getting that feedback from students that back and forth we're typically getting that feedback in the classroom.
Ms. McFarland, demonstrating a lesson: "And then I can take what I learned from what she said, then put that together to become my point of view, or rather her point of view. How do I think she feels about the art, what is her point of view about the art? So I'm going to ask you to pause the video for a second, you can stop right here and jot down the details in that box. And what do you think? What do you think is her point of view about this art?
Four weeks in, I'm saying is that all my teachers are executing all the strategies, as far as the the instructional strategies. For the past three or four weeks, this will be the fourth week, they get feedback from me during the one-to-one call, and then during the team meetings on Fridays, I give them feedback that will impact the entire team. So, I can see evidence in those videos, if you look at some of the things that I've shared, you will see the teacher's first video, and you can look at her video, I think I shared her week four video, so you can see how she's progressed over time.
And I'm also thinking about what it can look like for next year. So, I didn't include everything in my workspace as far as my thoughts for next year. That will be another video when we get there. But I am thinking about if school is going to look differently, how do I equip my team over the summer months and over this time – what training, what professional development – how do I better equip myself? And I know family engagement is going to be a huge piece, and especially when the accountability increases in the school year. Right now, parents don't feel that pressure that it's a graded assignment, but we are giving engagement points through our school. And so, I'm just really researching and thinking about how I can engage more families in this process.
So, I'm going to end this reflection, but you can definitely look at my workspace for each item, each strategy that I selected. I wrote a small little piece just to explain my thinking as I selected this piece as I selected a particular strategy. So, thank you for listening, and we'll continue to do this work.