COVID: Lessons to Start the Year

Like all other districts in California, and many across the nation, we started this school year in a remote learning environment. I am the assistant principal at a year-round school. Our teachers and students began the school year, before most of the country had even made any kind of decision about how to open schools.  We have been rockin’ and rollin’ now for six weeks.  And let’s be clear, I’ve never seen teachers work harder.

In efforts to support the teachers in this uncharted territory, our district has been rallying the troops!  Teams have been creating units of study, social emotional learning lessons, professional development opportunities (by the hundreds it seems), and much more. My previous role as an instructional coach in the positioned me to assist with these endeavors.

I’m not going to lie. I LOVE working with curriculum. How do you build meaningful units that both students and teachers will connect with and hit their learning targets? How do you ensure that learning goals are clear at all levels: surface, deep and transfer? How do you collect evidence throughout the unit to best inform the next instructional moves? What might be an appropriate instructional sequence for all learners? In what ways were students’ knowledge and skills assessed and then utilized as assets while designing the learning plan? The questions, the tweaks; it never ends. Down the rabbit hole I go.

For this particular task, a group of colleagues and I were asked to build the first two weeks of remote/virtual lessons.  Here are 2 of the tasks we came up with:

  1. The Classic “Brown Bag Project”, just slightly upgraded with Google and Flipgrid assistance: A multi-day project (Preparation, Presentation, Respond to Classmates) for students to be able to introduce themselves to their peers, but also to get familiar with some tech tools that will be utilized throughout the remote learning setting.

Brown Bag

  1. Letter to My Teacher:  Task serves as an informal writing assessment AND a way to get to know your students as individuals.

Letter to My Teacher

This post only contains the isolated tasks, however, I truly appreciate the opportunity to build meaningful units utilizing both a backwards design (UbD) and UDL framework. Do I do it perfectly? No. But with every unit, my design muscles grow stronger and it’s those small wins that keep me going.

Teachers have a ridiculous amount on their plate right now. I mean, they always have, but it’s grown exponentially. Anything I can do to alleviate the load, I will do without blinking an eye.

 

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