Page 10 - FIS World December 2020
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      Re-imagining the Classroom
Looking at teaching and learning through a new lens
  In our pre-Covid world, those of us who had been teaching for awhile could plan out a week’s
lessons pretty easily. We knew what worked and what didn’t, and which digital tools were the best to do the job. Not that what we did was brainless, or “winging it,” but we had a workflow in which we had grown accustomed.
In a way, many teachers moved to distance learning thinking they could continue to work in this man- ner, simply replicating what they did in the classroom via Zoom. They figured, “I can ride this out with not much change until this whole thing is over.”But it isn’t over, and unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be over anytime soon.
Michael Nachbar, the Executive Director of Global Online Academy, recently stated,“The prospect that online learning will become a for- ever part of your schools should shape the way we talk about it now. Lean into it.”
Since last March, teachers at FIS have been leaning into it, embrac- ing the change and doing the hard work to make our school a model of what a truly innovative learning space can look like. But it hasn’t been easy. There have been no ex- amples to guide us. No teacher has had to deal with teaching both face-to-face and virtually at the same time – ever.
The pandemic has forced us to look at the traditional school model with a completely new lens. What are the most essential parts of the curriculum? How should content be delivered? What do our stu- dents need to know and be able to do? What tech tools are required to both deliver and participate in the curriculum? And how do we give students opportunities to learn and interact in multiple ways?
Me in classroom in front of kids
The answers to these questions aren’t always clear cut, but six months into this new venture, we have developed a well thought- out plan for teaching and learn- ing that encompases a mix of syn- chronous (face to face in real time) and asynchronous (independent, on their own) possibilities so that we may continue teaching our stu- dents whatever the circumstances.
This fall we also began to strengthen our Continuous Learning Plan (CLP). We want students to feel comfort- able staying home to get well with- out risking falling behind.
Coming up with innovative ways to teach is what makes our profession so exciting, but at times like this, it can also make it so exhausting. Even if we have taught a particu- lar course for 10 years, the planning and delivery of content during a lesson is completely different.
Our successes so far don’t mean that we will no longer have mo- ments of trial and error. Iteration is a critical piece of becoming better at anything. It is just that we must think through all aspects of teach- ing our lessons, trying things out, adjusting, redesigning – and then trying again. The design cycle is now more important than ever and the more we can concentrate on design and pedagogy the better.
The losses we have felt during the pandemic have been great, but what we have gained has helped so many of us to be excited for the future. Our students are empowered to be more independent, more creative with their time, and more empathetic and flexible learners.
Kathleen Ralf
Blended and Online Learning Coord. Upper School Humanities Teacher
                                                     8 FIS World December 2020
Loom videos
PowerSchool page/w instructions
Small group meetings on Zoom
calendars by week and by unit
collaborating with teaching team
curating content

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