Secretary of Education Interview on Opening

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Mr.history, Jul 10, 2020.

  1. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Damien,

    Oh I can relate to this. I came from business and went into teaching working 7 days a week and much of the summer break. Then I became friends with 2 teachers that opened my eyes a whole lot. One was an amazing person and put in so many hours into teaching, sleep was even sacrificed. Year after year this teacher showed nearly no improvement in teaching despite being good with children.

    The other one probably put in about 45 hours/week into teaching, and became one of the best teachers I knew despite a rough first year. This blew my mind. All of the great teachers in the movies worked around the clock. What was the secret? Mostly, she had time to slow down and see what worked and what didn't. Also, the relationships she had outside of work helped her to understand people (big and small) at work.
    I still am a big planner, but I spend less time working and more time reading and thinking then I use to in the summers. Damien, while there are some lazy teachers out there, I ask you to not be so quick to judge. Hours put in planning does not = always successful teaching.
     
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  2. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Guilt is a personal response to information. How can you feel guilty about something that is 100% incorrect in your mind and judgement?
     
  3. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    You have me confused with someone else. I told them no such thing, and claimed no such thing. I have no idea what on Earth you are talking about. So maybe get your facts straight and come at me again with something that's actually true, since you seem to want to pick a fight today.
     
  4. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    "Hours put in planning does not=always successful teaching"

    Duh. But again (and again and again and again) this is an extraordinary time. It's not my ideal way to spend summer. But I'll bet you half of my next paycheck that when the school year starts, the line is going to be "We didn't have time to get ready! What are we supposed to do now! No one is telling us! We should have been given time to prepare!"

    That of course is the sequel to the complaints right now:
    "Administrators aren't giving us guidance! Our leaders aren't telling us what to do!" We're supposed to be educated professionals, yet are somehow reduced to essentially waiting to be told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I don't now and have never seen this behavior from grown adults in other professions.
     
  5. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Ah, the ignore button. It had been so long, but now it seems it is my new best friend!
     
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  6. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Then I'll jump in. With your whole "they'll only get the time they pay me for" rap. Personally, for me, the money is just a number. Teachers always say 'it's not about the money' (which really, most conversations wind up being about...). The job is a goal, not a timeframe. For me the work isn't dictated by the sound of the last bell and when the last buses stop running. The job is done when the kids have actually learned.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I must profusely apologize for my mistake. It was another poster who said that it was anxiety that was the root cause for DamienJasper's opinion. I am so sorry. It is completely my mistake. It was not intentional, but my mistake was not fair to you. I apologize. I will try my best to be more careful in the future. If I could go back and clean it all up, I would, but that would take both of us for me to remove the original and you to remove the quotes.

    I would certainly leave my apology here because you deserve this apology.
     
  8. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    When did I ever say that I only work to rule? Did not. I said that I do the things I want to do and that I think 1. make me a better teacher and 2. improve educational outcomes for my students and 3. contribute positively to the climate at my school. If i don't think it's worth my time, and I'm not being paid for it, I'm not doing it. If it doesn't fall into those three categories for me, it's not worth my time and stress. I've been highly effective for 16 years worth of evaluations, so my admin think I'm doing something right and had no fewer than 8 parents ask if I was planning to return to teaching or if I'd want to lead their teaching coop this school year, so I must have a pretty good reputation with the parents. Teaching is not one size fits all. How about you do what you need to do and leave other teachers who are doing what they need to do alone to do it in peace.
     
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  9. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    DamienJasper, this is getting too personal. It isn't fair to do either.
     
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  10. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Damien if your argument is that teachers are better off preparing in this difficult time, I agree with you. If you want to believe that you are planning and nearly no one else is, I'd check again. The glass in life is always half full/half empty. If you want to focus on the half empty side, you are missing out on so many teachers out there who are planning like yourself. Life is a choice. You can celebrate the good or focus on the bad. This choice will determine your happiness.
     
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  11. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    a2z
    So long as we expect grocery store workers to keep the food flowing, nurses to work around the clock, and truck drivers to keep everything moving, I'll take it personal. If they have to dig deep (especially the nurses), then I frankly take it as an obligation to match them step for step. Anything less is, to me, an offense.
     
  12. gr3teacher

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    I work my you-know-what off. During the month of July, I'm teaching ESY, I'm serving on Governor Northam's work group for reopening school, I'm serving on the executive board of one of the largest teacher associations in the state, I'm taking professional development classes, I'm taking doctoral classes, I'm getting in administrative internship hours, and I'm guiding my daughter through her summer school program. On top of that, I've also taken five Praxis exams to build versatility and give my principal more options of where to put me (Earth/Space Science, History/Social Sciences, English, MS Science, and the SLLA Admin test).

    I'm not planning for next year. I'm not developing materials. I'm not adapting things. Truth be told, I'm not even thinking about them. Why exactly would I do any of those things? I don't know if I'm teaching virtually or in-person, I don't know for sure what I'll be teaching since the master calendar is going to be an utter mess, I don't know even for sure if I'll be at my school or shunted sideways into another school for the year to make numbers fit. Nope, I'm not doing even a little bit of planning or prep. If that makes me a bad teacher in somebody's eyes, I'll own it.
     
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  13. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Everyone keeps saying "I don't know if I'll be teaching online".

    It basically ranks somewhere between highly probable and most certainly. Think about it;

    1) Your district may start the year that way and keep it that way until further notice
    2) Your district will likely wind up moving to that model at some point
    or
    3) Your district model is likely to include the option of total online learning. In which case, you either want to be their teacher or record or let them move to some other online school.

    Nope; no one knows for sure. But it's a pretty safe assumption that no one's district is going to be all in class, all the time. Give yourself a cushion already, unless you want a repeat of what spring was like, only amplified several fold. That's what I'm trying to get at.
     
  14. gr3teacher

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    I may be teaching online at some point. I may not. I may be teaching the same curriculum I taught last year. I may not. I may be teaching online at a specific point in the year. I may not. There are better uses for my time during the summer than spending hours preparing resources I have literally no idea of knowing I will ever need or not. If you feel differently, that's a decision you need to make yourself.
     
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  15. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Let's parse this down then and just play the odds.

    Do you honestly think you're not going to have to teach online at some point during this upcoming school year?
     
  16. RainStorm

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    Well said, MissCeliaB.

    And as to the comments about health workers, in my area, nurses are in short supply, dangerously short supply. They have called in out-of-town nurses to fill the gaps. In some areas, the out-of-town nurses are being paid up to $100 per hour, plus hotel and meals, and travel expenses here. The local nurses who are working extra are being paid time and a half for their overtime work, and in some cases, double time. Don't get me wrong, they are valiant and dedicated heroes, I agree. I but I would hardly compare working extra hours for time and a half to asking teachers to work for free, when no one can even tell teachers yet when and how they will be teaching.

    You be you. If you want to work yourself silly, when 80% of it will be for naught once final decisions are made and changes occur, then please go right ahead and do it. But you have no right to judge other teachers who make different choices.

    The teacher as a martyr -- working tirelessly without any concern for fair or equitable compensation because we love children so much we should be willing to work for free and buy their supplies to boot -- is an image that cannot continue if our profession is to survive.
    I defy you to show me one CPA who takes his two weeks vacation and spends the entire time planning to be a more effective accountant, attending training classes, buying new office supplies, organizing his notes, etc while on his paid two week vacation. That just doesn't happen. To expect teachers to do this is beyond reasonable.
     
  17. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    In normal circumstances.

    But if you think your compensation is unfair or not equitable, I would have a word with HR or your union rep. Or better yet, not get into teaching at all. It's not like the salary is some guarded secret.
     
  18. RainStorm

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    Between June 1 and August 4th, teacher pay here is zero dollars. What good would talking to HR or our union rep do about this? We are not contracted during that time.

    DamienJasper, I'm really glad you feel so dedicated to the profession. Keep doing it for 20 or so years. Have no personal life because you choose to throw yourself 100% of the time into your work. That is your choice. But you will find something those of us who have been in it longer already know. The number of hours you work does not define your effectiveness as a teacher.

    In our district right now, we know that at least some of our work will be online, BUT our county is probably going to have ONE teacher do online for the entire county for 2nd grade. It will have dozens do in-person in reduced size classes. Some of us may have to be put in different grade levels, based on how many parents choose in-person and how many do in class. Some teachers are going to be assigned to grade and correspond with students who are doing the county-wide virtual classes. No decisions have been made as to which teacher will be doing which role. We have no idea about any of this, and our schools here start in August. What possible good would it do for a teacher to prepare to teach 2nd grade virtual, when they may actually end up teaching third grade small group in person?

    You simply can't prepare for every eventuality. Teachers may be in their usual school. Teachers may be in their usual grade. Teachers may be a in a different school that uses different resources that they haven't even seen yet. The district may change the required curriculum to reflect the reality of part virtual/part in-person education. Why would a teacher spend half the summer preparing to teach 2nd grade virtual at school A, only to later, at the very last minute, be told they will be teaching 3rd grade inclusion, in-person, in school B?

    You can't plan for every eventuality, and in today's climate, the districts can't tell us what to expect yet. If you want to spin your wheels and spend time doing that, then fine, you do you. But don't judge every other teacher for not jumping on your bandwagon.
     
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  19. gr3teacher

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    Quite the contrary, I fully expect I'll have to. Maybe it will be September 8, and maybe not. Maybe if I'm teaching virtually on October 8, I'll be back in-person on November 8. Who the heck knows? That's not even getting into the fact that I can't yet be sure what grade level I'll be teaching, or even if I'll still be teaching math. I could plan for every possible permutation of possibilities, or I can focus on the knowns, learn about virtual learning in general, and apply that learning to the specifics once I have them.
     
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  20. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Why do people think that scares me? There's an old saying; "If you love what you do, then you'll never work a day in your life."

    I'm terribly sorry that people feel like teaching somehow sucks the life out of them. But that's not my problem. Seems like a strange career choice if that's the case though.
     
  21. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Double post. Oops.
     
  22. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Damien, you’re right. There’s a good chance I’ll end up doing some virtual instruction. But I don’t know what my district will expect in that case. Yes, I am a professional, and I can figure things out, but my district may have a specific way they want lessons posted or a specific platform or curriculum they want used. They may want classroom teachers to divide up the content areas and share lessons. They may want every classroom teacher teaching all of the content areas for their own students. They may want recorded lessons, or they may want live instruction. They may want daily material or weekly material. They may want lessons that build off of in person hybrid instruction. They may move me from the role of interventionist back to classroom teacher. There are just so many unknowns at this point, unknowns that are so big that it would be fruitless to start planning lessons. Again, I wouldn’t even be planning lessons now if it were a typical year. As an elementary teacher, my lessons are as much based on the kids in front of me as they are on standards. And that’s in a year when I know what my district is expecting and when I’m confident about my teaching assignment not changing for the coming year. If you are already sure that your assignment won’t change and sure that you know what your admin want you to produce, then start prepping, if that makes you feel better. But don’t judge teachers who are not in that boat. In the future, I may complain that we didn’t have enough time to prepare, but it will be because my district is dragging their feet on making decisions, not because I sat around wasting time.
     
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  23. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I’m glad that this website stores posts indefinitely. I thought a lot like you when I was in the beginning stages of my career, thinking that I was more dedicated than older, more experienced teachers because I put in more hours and sacrificed my life and money for the job and the kids. Although I was never as bold as to say it, at least not that I can remember. Experience brings wisdom. You live and you learn. You are implying that we don’t enjoy teaching because we seek fair compensation and balance in life, because we’re not willing to sacrifice it all, like you. I hope you’ll look back on this thread in 10 years, maybe even 5, and consider whether you still feel this way. I suspect that either you will have changed your tune or you will have left the field, perhaps both.
     
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  24. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Let me put it this way; I don't anticipate my lessons to be set in stone and rigid. But it will be
    A) Far easier to adjust lessons than build them from scratch.
    or
    B) Take things out rather than put them in.


    You are right however; I feel like my district is dragging its feet. We can only send out so many opinion polls and technological capability surveys before a decision has to be reached one way or another. They say a camel is a horse created by a committee.
     
  25. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    I'm glad it saves posts indefinitely too. Because I'm not as young or inexperienced as you think.

    And just because my idea of "work life balance" isn't the same as yours, doesn't make it wrong. 50/50 has never been how I operate. Take this for what you will, but I think that's a mushy, spoiled, first-world-only view of the world. It's always been hard to impress on people that my idea of 'balance' isn't 50/50 because I feel a dark, obsessive need.
     
  26. bella84

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    You teach secondary, right? I’m telling you, elementary teachers just don’t teach in the same way. Putting something in or taking something out of a prepared lesson isn’t even a thing in elementary, at least not anywhere I’ve taught, because the lessons just aren’t prepared as far in advance or as structured as that. If it works for you in secondary, then do it, but don’t expect it to work across the board.

    I’m not sure of your age, but I do believe I saw you post somewhere about having maybe two years of teaching experience. That’s what I’m basing this on. Is that incorrect?

    I’m not suggesting that work life balance be 50/50 nor that we should aim to have the same work life balance. To the contrary, I’m suggesting just what you’ve proposed. We should all do what’s right for us and leave others to do what’s right for them. In your previous posts, it appears that you’re judging others for not being willing to dedicate as much of themselves as you dedicate of yourself. I’m simply suggesting that you let others be, while you do what’s right for you.
     
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  27. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Like I said, I usually plan the way you do. It's got to stay fluid and adjustable on basically a week to week basis, more often daily. What I'm saying, again, is that it's better to have something to work from than try and build from the ground up while the year is in process. Like you said, every little bit counts.
     
  28. mathteachertobe

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    Lots of us are waiting on decisions from district and/or admin. Things I don't know yet include:

    What courses I will teach.
    What, if any, e-curricula the district will purchase.
    What other resources I am allowed to use.
    How often and for how many minutes I will see each class.

    I am at a large school and there will be a team of us on whatever courses I am assigned. In the spring we did a good job of collaborating, designing lessons and activities together, and I believe that will happen again, so I am not too concerned about that aspect of distance teaching. I am concerned about teaching students I don't have a relationship with already, so am focusing my thinking around how to establish relationships at a distance. If anyone has any thoughts or plans that addresses that issue, I'd love to hear them. Thanks.
     
  29. gr3teacher

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    If you know for a fact that you'll be teaching a certain specific course, I can understand having some essentials ready for a move to online. If you aren't even sure of the content you'll teach, let alone which grade within that content area, it makes more sense to stick with general planning.
     
  30. MissCeliaB

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    Great. I've been teaching the same four preps for over a decade at this point. I have years worth of materials saved and prepared that I don't even get to in a year because I change up what I do each year based on the needs of the group I have. I'm unclear exactly how much more prepared I can be, especially without knowing exactly what our district is expecting from us. So, until they give me some clear instructions, I'm relaxing. Because trust me, clear and specific instructions are coming, and I'll have to redo anything that doesn't meet them.
     
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  31. bella84

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    I get what you’re saying. I don’t think you get what I’m saying. The district curriculum exists already. That means the unit plans are already stored away in our database. What more would you suggest be done right now? I don’t know what to plan for small groups, because I don’t know my students’ individual needs. It doesn’t make sense to plan out pacing, since I don’t know our schedule or structure for hybrid or online learning. It doesn’t make sense to start making videos or anything like that it when admin haven’t told us what they want for virtual instruction. Again, what more is it that you think I could be planning, knowing that my role might even be changed by next month?
     
  32. DamienJasper

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    I would say step 1: What didn't work in the Spring?

    For our district, the stutter step approach in the first week to getting students into and working in Google Classroom left lots of different students in lots of different places. Some knew how to check and navigate around a Google Classroom, a lot didn't. I'd say ask yourself how you're going to get them all in the same place at the same time if (when) being totally digital occurs.

    I'd say think about this; if I had to hazard a guess I say your district went into lockdown sometime around mid March? I would further guess that means that the vast majority of what material you do have isn't digitized in some way? How are you going to digitize it? And if it can't be digitized, what are you going to replace it with to get around to the same skill or concept?

    Maybe I'm in a unique situation here, but it was decided in our district a long time ago that the whole district should use the same platform. The feedback we got from parents was that it was too confusing and technologically dissonant to have teachers using a big variety of platforms; Google Classroom, Zoom meetings, Moodle, Chalkboard, Khan Academy, MasterConnect, etc. We decided the more consistency, the better. Google Classroom turned out to be the platform that checked off the most boxes because of how ubiquitous Google is; it's extensions work on the vast, vast majority of devices. If you must pick a digital companion and haven't yet, that's the one I went with.

    Preparing starts with asking yourself questions. Like I said, just because districts and/or admins are foot dragging, doesn't mean we have to follow.
     
  33. bella84

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    Your step 1 question is a question that our district leaders are currently discussing with others at their level, along with a task force, right now. Seriously, word-for-word, that's one thing they discussed at their public virtual board meeting last week. That's not a micro decision that I get to make. It's at the macro level. When they've settled on what they think didn't work and what they think will make things better, they'll give teachers direction. Then, it will be up to me to take that direction and do something with it. But guessing what they might decide is rather pointless.

    What do you mean by digitized materials? Our entire district curriculum is posted on our online database, through a platform not very different than Google Classroom, mandated by the district. With the click of a button, the curriculum can be made visible to students. Although that requires that each teachers' courses have been populated, which they haven't, because the tech department hasn't done that yet. Sure, teachers might add their own supplemental activities or adapt what's there, but that will be based on what is needed in the present moment (for the kids, for the setting, etc.).

    In addition I'm switching roles this year (assuming they don't make a change on me at the last minute), moving from classroom teacher to interventionist. So, it doesn't really matter what I did in the spring. Next year will be different. Different students, different content, different structures. My entire job is to assess my students and base my lessons on their individual needs, not to follow any sort of curriculum that can be prepared in advance. I can do some PD on broad needs that my students might have, and that is something that I've been doing this summer, but I can't do any lesson planning or prep.

    If I were to stay in the classroom, instead of moving to this new role, I'd need to be in contact with my teammates. Last spring, we divided and conquered - meaning that I took one content area, and they each took another. We all shared lessons. My guess, based on what was stated at recent board meetings, is that my district won't be doing the same thing this year. They have given every indication that this year will be different, but we've been instructed to wait patiently until clear expectations are given in August.

    I am asking myself questions: Will I have the role that I am supposed to have? What will my role look like in person? What will it look like virtually? If virtual, will lessons be live? How will I assess students to know what to teach them? This is all big picture and not for me to figure out but, instead, to do as my admins have directed and wait patiently for guidance to come.

    Yes, you must be in a unique situation.
     
  34. DamienJasper

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    Maybe; I made sure I was on our committee to get this stuff figured out.

    You said "teachers might add some supplemental activities". Do you have anything in mind?
     
  35. bella84

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    Well, we can't all be on that committee at our respective schools. Quite honestly, that committee doesn't even have the answers for themselves yet, based on what was shared at the board meeting last week. We all expected answers and pretty much ended up with even more questions. When I think about all of it it, trying to guess which way they might go, my anxiety takes over. So, for now, I'll do my best to let it be. I'll rotate between doing my paid extra duty summer work, independent PD (webinars and reading), and relaxing however I'd like so that I can be refreshed enough to dive in when the answers are finally given to us next month.
     
  36. readingrules12

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    Jul 19, 2020

    I think this is an excellent point. When I start preparing to plan something, questions come up quickly. For example: (possible scenarios)

    "Okay, I need to use ______ website, but I see that I can't log on. I need to contact someone." Who do I contact?
    "I see that we need to make videos, but I see my device doesn't have enough memory to make videos." What do I do to get the right device?

    Now that I see the problems, I can do something about it. Waiting until the last minute makes it tough to do this. Damien, your point in planning is a good one. I think some teachers are just frustrated that the leaders are dragging their feet in communicating to teachers the expectations.
     
  37. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 19, 2020

    Definitely, 100%. But, even if I did have all of the answers already, I'd still make sure that I get in my "me" time this summer. I might do some work, but it likely wouldn't look all that different than the PD I'm doing right now anyway.
     
    MissCeliaB likes this.
  38. DamienJasper

    DamienJasper Rookie

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    Jul 19, 2020

    Yes; the foot dragging is getting on my nerves. I have slowed my lesson output because of that. I can only get so far out ahead of a point in time that doesn't exist (did that make any sense?) I feel like these are discussions we should have been having in May.
     
  39. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jul 19, 2020

    From school leadership side though, I think it was hard for them. I mean... who would have predicted that Americans would just kind of... get bored with trying to stop COVID-19 leading to such an immediate bounceback?
     
  40. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Absolutely. Our school board and admin have literally been in tears over this. Not only was it hard then, but it must be hard right now. It's mid-July, and they are trying to predict what conditions will be 3-8 weeks from now, when schools are back in session. But I worry that the longer they put off the decision-making, the more difficult it will be to ensure both that instruction is effective and that families have an opportunity to make arrangements for childcare and work.
     
    otterpop likes this.

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