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A Conversation With Teachers

A Conversation With Teachers

Date of the Event: May 05, 2020 | Kyair Butts, Julie Duffee, Jade Johnson, Kathie Johnson, Heather Polonsky, Devon Robbins, and Amber Williams
African American, female teacher posing at the back of her classroom Show Notes:

The COVID-19 crisis has forced teachers to implement distance learning plans overnight. As a follow up to our Conversation with Students that featured voices nationwide from Portland (ME and OR) to Los Angeles, we  heard from practitioners about how the global pandemic has impacted their practice. We learned: what resources are available for all students, how teachers are bridging the digital divide, and how might it inform their future practice.

utomated Speaker: [00:00:00] This conference will now be recorded.

[00:00:05] Kate: [00:00:05] Hi everybody. We’re just going to give it maybe one or two more minutes as people are  signing in.

[00:00:45] Nikevia: [00:00:45] Hi everyone. Could you mute your mics now?

[00:01:05] Kate: [00:01:05] Okay, should we go ahead and get started? All right. Give me just one second.

[00:01:51] All ri...

utomated Speaker: [00:00:00] This conference will now be recorded.

[00:00:05] Kate: [00:00:05] Hi everybody. We’re just going to give it maybe one or two more minutes as people are  signing in.

[00:00:45] Nikevia: [00:00:45] Hi everyone. Could you mute your mics now?

[00:01:05] Kate: [00:01:05] Okay, should we go ahead and get started? All right. Give me just one second.

[00:01:51] All right. Is that coming up okay with you? There we go. Okay. Hi everybody. Welcome to A Conversation with Teachers. I understand from what I can see on my screen, that everything is appearing okay. All right.

[00:02:06] This event is being held by MAEC. And we’re  joined today by Dr. Karmen Rouland, the associate director of TA and Training within the center for education at MAEC, and Daryl Williams, Dr. Williams, I’m sorry Daryl, who is a senior specialist for the center for education equity at MAEC. I just wanted to send one little reminder again that if you could please leave your microphones muted during this call, video camera’s off so that the teachers are featured upfront. This is kind of the way that our moderators see and communicate with our panelists. Also the chat icon it is possibly in the top right corner of your screen, but for other people that may be on the bottom, we’re going to be communicating via chat. You can send your questions for the teachers there. They’re gonna have a little ice breaker and just a few minutes that will, you can answer in the chat box.

[00:03:09]Hold on one second, I’m not, there we go. In terms of our help here today, we’ve got a chat box crew, which is Paul and Nikevia. I’m going to try and help you with the tech issues and if you have any questions, please feel free to send them my way. You can do that through the chat box as well.

[00:03:33] Okay. Well, we’ve got, we’re up to our moderators, which I’ve already introduced. Daryl is going to take it from here.

[00:03:41] Daryl: [00:03:41] Alright, good afternoon everyone. And we are so thankful that you have joined us in this virtual conversation, particularly during this time. We are all homebound due to COVID-19. And we wanted to be able to have a conversation with educators.

[00:04:03] About what they’re experiencing during this time as schools are closed and they’re missing students. And, just this whole normal that we once were accustomed to has now changed. So that’s why we’re here. Yeah and I’m Dr. Daryl Williams, I’m is a specialist for the center for education equity at MAEC and, as my cohost, my wonderful, wonderful colleague, Dr. Karmen Rousso, I’ll let her introduce herself.

[00:04:32] Karmen: [00:04:32] Hi everyone. I’m Karmen Rouland. I am the associate director of TA and Training at Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, MAEC. And very happy to be here with you all today and very interested to learn from our teachers, how their experiences, so once we get started, I’m really gonna appreciate us diving into the content today.

[00:04:56] Daryl: [00:04:56] Right, how’s that Covid has this so homebound and I spoke up my colleague and I said her name wrong, isn’t that something, Covid issues. So my apologies Karmen. [chuckles]

[00:05:16] Hopefully we’ll get through this, we won’t have any more, either Covid moments or senior moments, we’ll get  right into it. So again, we are the Mid-Atlantic Equity Center. We were founded in 1991, we’re an education nonprofit. Our work is really centered around social justice and educational equity where we focus on students, students learning, students learning at high levels.

[00:05:46] We are really engaged in the work around helping teachers and peers and students and families to understand the importance of education, the importance of excellence, but to ensure that those opportunities for our young people are equitable. And we promote that excellence in education. We are the center for education equity is a project under MAEC.

[00:06:15] We’re one of four regional equity assistance centers funded by the United States Department of Education under title four the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you look at this map to the side, you can see territory, the geographic territory that we in. We work primarily with state departments of education and public school districts, in a 15 area region includes states from Kentucky going North, West Virginia, Maryland, North to Maine, and also working with projects in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. And so again, I work really focuses with our partners, West Ed and AIRO on education equity around race, gender, national origin, and social justice. Karmen.

[00:07:12] Karmen: [00:07:12] So, at MAEC we have put together several resources to support families, students, and educators during this time, as they’re navigating COVID-19  and the learning process. And so, our website,, the wealth of information and resources for educators and also for families, and if you go to the next slide, Kate. We have, one of our  resources, our data team put together, which compiles state resources from across the United States to help families and educators cope with COVID-19. And so this also available on our website. And it’s a way you can click on your state, your home state, or any state, however you feel, click on that state and it’ll provide you with a list of resources. Again, from announcements from your state government around COVID-19 and what your state is doing. Resources around supporting families with getting the necessary food or other things, that supply that they may need.

[00:08:18]There’s unemployment information there to help families that may be facing that difficult issue right now. So again, this is on our website. And you can click on this and use it at your leisure. Also, please share it.

[00:08:33] And something that we’re releasing this week is our family engagement center, I’m a program manager of CAFE, which is a Collaborative Action for Family Engagement. It’s a statewide, regional family engagement center for Maryland and Pennsylvania. And we have a family facing newsletter. Again, that’s going to be distributed this week.

[00:08:54] Again, you can sign up to receive that newsletter plus many other MAEC’s resources and publications at that link below. We’ll make sure that those get in the chat box for you so that you have access. And lastly, on Thursday coming up, we’re hosting a webinar, called The Family Room with one of our family engagement centers partners, Turning  The Page.

[00:09:20] We’re going to be featuring Dr. Seth Shaffer who is a child psychologist and is going to be talking with parents about strategies they can use, with their kids as a amily during COVID-19. So we’ll make sure, again, all these links, get to you so you can access those, share them widely. And, join us on Thursday.

[00:09:42] Daryl: [00:09:42] Great. Thank you Karmen. I mean, we are excited about having this opportunity. Again, we want to just before we go to our icebreaker, I just want to say that this is a second part of a conversation that we’ve been having. We had our first conversation with students. Students representing their districts from various parts of the country.

[00:10:02] And we wanted to extend that conversation around the effect of COVID on us in education to teachers and professionals. So here we are, and before we introduce our panelists, we’ve got an icebreaker. So we’re in an ice breaker, so let’s go.

[00:10:19] Nikevia: [00:10:19] So now that you’ve learned all about us, we love to hear about you and what you’ve been doing. Please share in the chat box what shows you are binging on during the quarantine.

[00:10:35] Wow.

[00:10:36] Daryl: [00:10:36] And we’re going to use the chat box to just keep everyone informed of the conversations, the topics, the ideas, the thoughts that you utilize to help engage you as an audience with our panel. So it sounds like you keep getting some really exciting kinds of comments in the chat room.

[00:10:59] Nikevia: [00:10:59] Yes. Wow. Perry Mason, Ozark. Good Girls. So I also would like to know if you would share where you all are from? Please share where you’re from. Maryland. New Jersey. Ohio, Oregon. Wow. Poland. Wow that’s nice.

[00:11:22] Daryl: [00:11:22] You’d think that this reach is going to extend across the entire continental U.S. And even maybe Hawaii and Alaska. I know we sent out some information to some of our connections in those States, so hopefully we get all 50 States represented here.

[00:11:43] Nikevia: [00:11:43] Texas, North Carolina, we have people from all over.

[00:11:48] Daryl: [00:11:48] Awesome. Awesome. Thank you all so much for joining us. Thank you. Thank you.

[00:11:57] Okay, so do you want to move on now to Nikevia?

[00:12:03] Nikevia: [00:12:03] We’re all done, thank you.

[00:12:05] Daryl: [00:12:05] All right. Thank you so much. So what we have here listed are our panelists and we’re going to give them an opportunity to introduce themselves. And say a little bit about who they are, where they’re from, because we want you to see that there’s a representation here from different parts of, not just the region that our work focuses in, but also there are people from across the the continental U.S., so with that, let’s just go down the list and introduce yourselves as your names appear.

[00:12:41] So Kyair.

[00:12:42] Kyair: [00:12:42] Okay, excellent, can everybody hear me okay?

[00:12:47] Daryl: [00:12:47] Yes. Yes. You’re right on Kyair.

[00:12:49] Kyair: [00:12:49] Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. Well, good afternoon everybody. It’s really great to be here. It’s kind of nice and just got through a teaching an hour. lesson, and than a staff meeting, so it’s really nice to be here with other educators and to learn.

[00:13:02] Again, my name is Kyair Butts. I teach in Baltimore city public schools. This is my eighth year in Baltimore, but my seventh year in the district. I was the assistant director of urban teachers, Baltimore in 2017 and then got back into teaching. So I’m originally from Des Moines, Iowa. So I’m excited to be here and learn from everyone today.

[00:13:23] Daryl: [00:13:23] Shout out to Iowa.

[00:13:25] Kyair: [00:13:25] That’s right, 515. [laughts]

[00:13:28] Daryl: [00:13:28] Devon. We got Robbie Devon, but it’s Devon Robbie. Let’s go Devon.

[00:13:36] Devon: [00:13:36] No worries at all. It’s all good. So I’m Devin Robbie, let’s see. I teach English language learners at the high school level at South Portland high school in Maine. I’ve been there for five years now. Originally I’m from Vermont.

[00:13:50] I’ve lived in a lot of different places in the U.S. And I just love teaching the English language learners and working with the students in South Portland.

[00:14:01] Daryl: [00:14:01] Thank you for joining us. We appreciate you being here. Emily.

[00:14:08] Emily: [00:14:08] Hi, I’m Emily. I’m a fourth grade teacher in Indiana, Pennsylvania. I teach English Language Arts. We are departmentalized. And I’m glad to be here.

[00:14:19] Daryl: [00:14:19] Great. Good to have you. Good to have you. Well let’s go to Julie. Julie Duffy.

[00:14:26] Julie: [00:14:26] Hi, I’m Julie Duffee, I actually teach with Emily Doran. I’m her team partner and I teach obviously in Indiana area school district in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

[00:14:37] And I’m also very happy to be here and I’m probably going to learn a lot from you folks as well.

[00:14:42] Daryl: [00:14:42] I tell you, Indiana, Pennsylvania is represented in the house. We got four teachers from Indiana, Pennsylvania. So let’s go, Kathie.

[00:14:51] Kathie: [00:14:51] Hi everyone. My name is Kathie John, I’m not from Indiana. I represent P.G. County in Maryland.

[00:14:59] Daryl: [00:14:59] [inaudible]

[00:14:59] Kathie: [00:14:59] Yes, I teach high school, 9th and 12th graders. I also teach math and I’m glad to join this discussion here today.

[00:15:07] Daryl: [00:15:07] Good to have you. I live here in Prince George’s County as well. Great to have you here. All right. Jade.

[00:15:14]Jade: [00:15:14] Hi everybody. My name is Jade Johnson. I am a magnet coordinator at a STEAM school in Baltimore County.

[00:15:23]I’m originally from New Jersey and I’m really excited to be here.

[00:15:27] Daryl: [00:15:27] That was awesome. Thanks for being here. Linda.

[00:15:32] Is Linda, with us? Okay. Okay, well, we will come back and Linda checks in. Let’s go to Heather.

[00:15:44] Heather: [00:15:44] Hey guys. I’m Heather Polonsky and I’ve been teaching in Washington D.C. for six years, and I teach middle school English, so thanks for having me.

[00:15:55] Daryl: [00:15:55] Great, nation’s capital. Good to have you. Kevin,

[00:16:02] Linda: [00:16:02] This is Linda, Kevin is having some technical difficulties right now.

[00:16:06] Daryl: [00:16:06] Well, come on in, Linda. Come on in.

[00:16:08] Linda: [00:16:08] Pardon me, I think I’m having some trouble with my mic.

[00:16:22]Daryl: [00:16:22] We will work a little bit on that mic and see how we can fix some audio. Let’s keep going.

[00:16:28] Has Kevin joined us?

[00:16:35] OK, someone has some background noise, please mute if you’re not a panelist. Thank you. Let’s go to Isabella.

[00:16:46] Isabella: [00:16:46] Hi, I’m Isabelle from California. Although I used to live in New Jersey, and I’ve been teaching for 15 years. I teach four levels of French and one level of Spanish in the Whittier Union high school district, which is East of Los Angeles.

[00:17:03] Daryl: [00:17:03] Thank you very much for coming in from the West coast. Sydney ,is Sydney with us? Okay, we’ll come back to Sydney. Amber.

[00:17:17] Amber: [00:17:17] Hi everyone. My name is Amber Williams. I am a fourth grade math and science teacher in Memphis, Tennessee at Shelby County schools. This is my ninth year teaching and I am very excited to be a part of this meaningful conversation.

[00:17:33] Daryl: [00:17:33] Memphis, Tennessee. Thank you for being a part of this conversation. Did I miss anyone on our panel? Anyone on the panel?

[00:17:44] Okay. And we are going to see if we can get Kevin back in a little bit later. So, what that, we’ve got some questions that we want to ask our panelists and thank them for their time and we appreciate just their service in education. This is an important conversation that we’re going to have and Karmen and I are going to just go back and forth and pull some questions and try to engaged as possible.

[00:18:11] So we’re gonna start with, we were talking about [inaudible]

[00:18:18] I hear someone in the back, if you’re not…  [background noise],

[00:18:25] Kate: [00:18:25] Please make sure you mute your mics everybody.

[00:18:32] Daryl: [00:18:32] Okay. I think we’re ready now. So let’s start with our first question to our panelists. [inaudible] And we want our participants to use the chat to make comments. Our moderators will be monitoring that. So what has been your experience so far during this quarantine? And basically, I’d like to know what is it like where you live?

[00:19:04] So again, what has this experience been like for you quarantining? Did I see a hand from my panelists? Everybody jumped in. All right, Emily, let’s go.

[00:19:19] Emily: [00:19:19] I think the best way to describe the whole experience is just kind of like the unknown. And, I know that as adults we’re feeling it and as kids, they’re feeling it, I think 10 times more than we are.

[00:19:32] So I think it’s just been, a kind of whirlwind to wrap our heads around not only being a teacher and trying to facilitate that, but just being an adult in a time where everything’s changing. So I think there’s just been a lot of fear, but I think in the same sense, some sense of comfort and knowing that we’re kind of all in this together.

[00:19:57] Daryl: [00:19:57] Anyone else? What’s it been like for you? Kyair?

[00:20:05] So you’re on mute.

[00:20:06] Kyair: [00:20:06] Yup, sorry just had to make sure I can find my mouse, the cursor to take me off mute. So it’s been an interesting experience. Right. And I certainly agree, right, that, you know, on the one hand, it’s really reassuring to know that I’ve got some consistency. So while things are pretty abnormal, I think in terms of what’s going on. The level of certainly like fear and just unknown what I do appreciate are those things that I know now that I can look forward to teaching everyday from 11 to 12:30 with my kids here in Baltimore city, I teach sixth grade ELA and like that sense, still continues, like to being in my purpose and being in my mission.

[00:20:44] So I really appreciate that. There’s a lot that’s unknown, but that 90 minutes with my kids every day really kind of helps my nerves in terms of what’s going on, now we’re able to, you know, a fellowship and chat, do some social emotional learning, focus on content just a little bit, which is nice.

[00:21:00]But really just maintaining those relationships. I would say here in Baltimore, people are doing a really good job, just at least in my neighborhood, I went out for a drive yesterday or on Sunday. I didn’t get out of the car, I just stayed in, the weather was great, but you just get the sense that it’s kind of like a lot of places, right?

[00:21:16] We’re kind of feeling cooped up. We want to get out, but we also want to be smart for ourselves and other people also. And I think that that’s also the message that we kind of push onto our kids as well as making sure that, Hey, we all want to do these things and kind of get back to normal, but you want to make sure that you’re being safe for yourself and others just given the nature of this virus.

[00:21:34] But making sure that we’re checking in, taking care of ourselves, right. You cannot spell ourselves or yourself or myself without SEL, social emotional learning. So doing those check- ins really helps.

[00:21:46] Daryl: [00:21:46] Ya. You guys have hit on some real, real interesting themes here. You know, some of the things that I wrote down, from just the two comments, fear of the unknown, fellowshipping ,relationships, feeling cooped up, trying to get a sense of what this normal is. And I mentioned earlier we had a conversation with students. And students were saying some of the very same things. They have their feeling that it’s important for them, in this time of quarantining to have these relationships with teachers. They miss that. They miss the connections. They’re not certain about what, what’s going, what things are going to look like. So thank you all forthose comments. Karmen, let me turn it over to you.

[00:22:29] Karmen: [00:22:29] Yeah. I would like to build off of this conversation about connections and the social emotional learning. What, how have you all maintained the connection with your students and their families during this time? Julie?

[00:22:43] Julie: [00:22:43] You know, we’re very fortunate in Indiana, Pennsylvania. We have a very small, close-knit town. Our school district, we have four elementary schools and junior high and senior high. And so the families that have been coming through for years and years, we, you know, we all have a sense of who each other are.

[00:23:01] And it’s nice because we can keep that connection. I imagine it would be a little trickier, you know, in the bigger, you know, bigger areas. But we’ve been very lucky. We have a lot more parent involvement and a lot more parent contact now. So I think, you know, being in a small town, a small area has been very beneficial for this.

[00:23:22] Karmen: [00:23:22] Someone else? Jade?

[00:23:28] Jade: [00:23:28] So, I’m in Baltimore County, so my school districts are pretty big. But my school is really small, so we do have the benefit of being quite close, so we’ve been doing like a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails. Some of our teachers have even started social media pages to get the kids like into it.

[00:23:47]We’ve done dance parties. Just any way we can get students to interact with us. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

[00:23:57] Karmen: [00:23:57] Thank you. I’ll take Amber and then Sydney.

[00:24:02] Amber: [00:24:02] One way is to try to keep the class routines and those things that we used to do, like at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, to try to incorporate it to like our class site.

[00:24:13]Shout out, letting students send me anything that’s going on so I can share it with everyone in email, whether it was a birthday, whether it was just something they wanted to, just share how we usually would do in class at the end of the day anyway. Students shout outs, like still trying to keep those things, acknowledging their effort. And parental contact has really, of course improved tremendously. So that’s like a plus and those are really just those things. It’s trying to make sure that they still feel connected.

[00:24:47] Daryl: [00:24:47] Awesome. Sydney?

[00:24:49] Sydney: [00:24:49] Hi. So I didn’t actually get a chance to introduce myself because of technical difficulties. So, my name is Sydney West. I teach second grade in Tacoma Park, Maryland. Some of the ways that I’ve tried to keep up with my kids, on a level outside of teaching, is just once a week having like class meetings is what we call it. And we do check ins. We do show and tell. The kids are able, sometimes we have like spirit week themes where it’s wear your pajamas or wear all one color, wacky hair day, so that the kids still feel like they have that comradery of being with their classmates and being able to just have real conversations outside of lessons. And they’ve really enjoyed that.

[00:25:29] Karmen: [00:25:29] Awesome. Awesome. Devin, I think I see your hand. Yeah, you’re on mute though.

[00:25:39] Devon: [00:25:39] Hi. So I was gonna say we’ve been using a lot of the same tools, a lot of phone calls home and such, but one thing that’s been great is using a Google meet, like just like a video conferencing, and some teachers are actually doing their class on there. For me, I’ve just been using it more socially, kind of just to check in with kids, see how they’re doing, help them with their homework and it’s just been a good way to be able to connect, face to face. That’s been something we’ve been doing.

[00:26:10] Karmen: [00:26:10] Thank you. Thank you all for your, you know, sharing how you’re trying to stay connected with the families and with your students. I mean, probably get on a number of things, some that are trying to keep the routine, but also trying different things to make sure that students feel connected as much as possible. Right during this time. Daryl I’ll turn it back over to you.

[00:26:31] Daryl: [00:26:31] Ya, so I thought Kathie was saying something, so I’m going to get Kathie, go ahead and if you wanted to share something?

[00:26:35] Karmen: [00:26:35] I’m sorry, Kathie.

[00:26:37] Kathie: [00:26:37] Oh, that’s fine. We have a large county in Prince George’s County, but each high school has a Blackboard messaging. And I’ve utilized, and I think most of our teachers has utilized that Blackboard messaging a great deal where we can contact parents, students, through email, phone calls, texts. So I send that. I try to do a shout out of, send out, these things on a weekly basis. And since we have to meet with all kids, math we meet every Tuesdays from nine to one. Usually the conversation centers around how are you doing, what’s going on? You know, how are you handling this? Type of questions like that before we even get into the math. So give the kids students a chance to talk about what’s going on around them. And you know, what their feelings are before just getting into a lesson. And we usually, we use zoom a great deal because that’s how we do our lessons on a weekly basis.

[00:27:33] But just finding out how the kids are doing and what they’re feeling, I think has helped me a great deal. And it’s helped them a great deal. They talk a lot more, usually my seniors talk a lot, period. But to get my underclassmen, my ninth graders to talk a lot, that’s been difficult. And I find that they’re sharing a great deal with me about how they’re feeling about this whole situation.

[00:27:53]Which has been comforting to me also. And I think to them.

[00:27:57] Daryl: [00:27:57] Right. Jump right on in Heather. I saw your hand.

[00:28:00] Heather: [00:28:00] Yeah. So, this year I actually started something new and I started the teacher Instagram page. And I post mini lessons, enrichment, review of skills. I have a few songs to help my students memorize some grammar concepts.

[00:28:17]And I started that at the beginning of the school year. And I had no idea that it would end up being extremely helpful when we moved to virtual teaching. I wish that I had thought that I was that smart at the beginning of the school year to anticipate this. But it was just coincidental, but that’s been really helpful now, especially with maintaining those relationships because I also have been posting some things that are not always academic, just kind of everyday things or what I happen to be reading on my Instagram stories, which kind of inspire dialogue with my students.

[00:28:51]Because they’ll let me know what they’re reading, or maybe they’ve also read that book. So that’s been a really great way of maintaining those relationships virtually.

[00:29:01] Daryl: [00:29:01] Right. Thank you. Hi, Isabella, come on in. You’re on mute. Isabel, you’re on mute.

[00:29:10] Isabella: [00:29:10] Sorry, I didn’t realize my camera was off.

[00:29:13] So I’ve been doing a lot of the things that were mentioned, trying to communicate as much as possible with my students and the parents. But I don’t know if anybody else has this experience. It does feel lonely and I’m only able to interact on a regular basis with a fraction of my students. Even though I’ve made phone calls home and, I’m really trying the best I can.

[00:29:36] And, I’ve done surveys and I know kind of where most of my kids are at, but it’s still feels, it’s so different. It’s a big shift emotionally as a teacher not to have that daily interaction. And to wonder when you put stuff out, how many are actually reading the email? How many are receiving the text?

[00:29:57]So I’m like multiplying the ways to try to reach out. Because I figured maybe if I can’t reach them in one way, I’ll be able to reach them in another, but it feels like I’m sending things into the void and I only get like a fraction of a response.

[00:30:14] Daryl: [00:30:14] Yeah. You know, I think that, and I think what the great part about this conversation is, is that our panelists are sharing things that I know that our audience are probably going through as well.

[00:30:27] And let’s talk a little bit about adjustments, because I’ve heard some of you mentioned that you’re doing things differently to help students. We’ve all had to adjust to a new way of operating in this Covid situation. So, so what I’d like to know from you is how have you had to adjust both your personal and your professional lives, your teaching?

[00:30:53] How have you adjusted? Yes, Jade. And then Amber.

[00:31:00] Jade: [00:31:00] So, it’s different because I’m not a classroom teacher. I’m a magnet coordinator, so I’m a resource teacher. In a lot of my job is co-teaching and instructional coaching, so it’s very different now when I’m not seeing, you know, physical instruction. So just trying to figure out how do I coach a new teacher on the best practices for mathematics? And how to use, I don’t know, something like manipulatives and we don’t have them in front of us? So that’s been a really hard adjustment. And then trying to figure out how to have like really meaningful discourse in classrooms. Because in elementary ages, I think it’s really beneficial to have kids talk to each other before they’re talking to me because sometimes they just need space to get their ideas out.

[00:31:48] And I’ve been finding that that’s really difficult to do because now they either have to type their response. Or they just have to wait for one person to go at a time. And for each child like that might not work. Some kids might not know how to verbalize. I mean, some kids might not know how to write out what they need to say, but may have a better time verbalizing it.

[00:32:09] Yeah. So for me, it’s just been trying to figure out how to be an effective instructional coach and then trying to have meaningful discourse in my classrooms.

[00:32:18] Daryl: [00:32:18] That is so powerful. I’m going to go to Amber in a minute, and then I saw a Kyair. But I just wanted to highlight that fact that teacher development, teacher coaching is really difficult now during this Covid time.

[00:32:32] We shouldn’t expect that teachers aren’t still learning. And still a building on their craft as teachers. And so this whole environment now has sort of put some barriers there, and made it real difficult to keep that teacher development going. So thank you for sharing that. Amber, and then Kyair.

[00:32:51] Thank you for coming back, Kevin. It’s good to see you.

[00:32:55] Amber: [00:32:55] One of the biggest challenges for me is that mathematical discourse. My students, they talk all the time about the math. And so them not being able to do that, that’s where they actually learn a lot from each other and get their thinking out. And another thing is that, that’s what drives my instruction.

[00:33:15] So I tell my students, you know, I use your thinking to guide me. And so it’s very hard, even when a parent can, when they do have a question it’s still, it’s just not the same because it’s like I’m not there. It’s just a different atmosphere for the child to just be talking and for me to realize their misconception by what they’re saying.

[00:33:35] And so that, that’s a huge challenge as well as me not answering my students’ questions in the classroom, but really pushing them into their thinking. And providing that opportunity for them to productively struggle. Well, that’s kind of hard to do because if a parent is calling me about a question, they don’t really have time for me to ask those right questions for their child to get into their own thinking.

[00:34:00] It’s more so that they just kind of want the directions on, okay, what are the steps for them to do this? And you know, that end up is not as beneficial to a student, as them actually discovering their own way.

[00:34:12] Daryl: [00:34:12] Ya I get that. Kyair, Sydney and then Isabella.

[00:34:18] Kyair: [00:34:18] Yeah. So I think that when it comes to adjustments, one of them has really just been in the area of planning.

[00:34:23] So, you know, I like to think that I was pretty diligent about planning before, but now it’s how do you plan for online instruction and really kind of heed some of what Isabella was saying, right? That if, depending on how many students, right? So I’ve got 61 kids in sixth grade, so this idea of what are going to be my focus areas, right?

[00:34:46] Like what? What is that high leverage thing, concepts, skill or knowledge that I absolutely need us to know? So, I mean, I’ve been pretty, you know, transparent with students, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be. So, I mean, I’ve shared some research with students when we first started online teaching and I continually remind them why it’s important to study.

[00:35:08] You might hear other students say that grades don’t matter or that at the end of the day, everyone passes quarter four and to me all that’s hearsay. What I need you all to know is that when we look at this research about the summer slide or brain drain or whatever you want to call it. It’s real. Your disengagement or your potential disengagement is not going to get you where you want.

[00:35:28] So being able to couple evidence or research based sort of facts and testimonies with sort of SEL lessons, right? That if we want to keep going and get to these plateaus and these peaks, right, that we want to achieve someday. I need you guys to stay engaged and disregard what other people are saying about grades.

[00:35:46] So for me, it’s how do we focus on reading fluency? So I’m going to share my screen with you and we’re going to practice reading fluency. It sounds like a jumbled mess, but I read silently and then I literally tell the kids, I need you to unmute yourself, make sure your video is on, and we’re going to follow along and you’re going to read out loud as if we were in class.

[00:36:03] It sounds weird because Internet’s different for everybody, but that’s an accountability. They value that piece. How can I also stay true to the curriculum? And give you knowledge building? So we use wit and wisdom here. I’m not focused on a discrete skill every day. We’re not focusing on main idea one day, context clues, the next or whatever.

[00:36:21] It’s about how do I build your knowledge of this topic that we’re on? And if you’re engaging online with my live lessons, you can still build your knowledge. If not, you’ve got ways to build your knowledge in Google classroom. But knowledge building is a research based way of deepening comprehension and understanding more so than sort of drill, kill and skill.

[00:36:40] The research says that that potency actually wears off faster than if you build knowledge and sustain. And the last area before I wrap up is writing, right? I want to make sure that we can read fluently and that we’re attending to fluency. That you’re building your knowledge with that we’re also writing, so these could be journal prompts.

[00:36:56] I might assign an essay and you have, you know, X amount of time to get it done. But there are some areas I think that as a teacher that I’ve been through and I value that I am unwilling to relinquish just because we’re online teaching. User non-negotiables for you to make sure that you are successful as a literacy student in Baltimore city.

[00:37:19] Daryl: [00:37:19] Alright. Thank you Kyair. I think I want to use you on some of my research that I’m doing.  Sydney, and then Isabella, and then I’m going to shoot to Karmen.

[00:37:31] Sydney: [00:37:31] So I think my view of what I’ve had to adjust is very different as a primary grade teacher. So one of the biggest things for me that I am lacking and still struggling with how to manage with my teaching is I’m missing a lot of those instructional strategies, like, turn and talk to a partner or using a jigsaw strategy to help students really engage with each other, because that’s a huge piece in elementary. I have seven and eight year olds, and I’m just staring back at the screen trying to teach them something. So it’s a little bit of a different aspect. You know, when you think about middle school and high schoolers, they’re kind of, they’re a little bit more able and they have more stamina to sit and kind of listen and absorb information and do more independently.

[00:38:18] While elementary school kids, especially the young ones, their attention span is five minutes. And I’ve got to find ways to make sure they’re truly engaged and not just staring at me and, you know, listening, but not really listening. And I also have to find strategies that virtually can help them interact with each other and kind of like ask those questions when they’re confused and build off of each other’s ideas.

[00:38:41] But it is very difficult because not being in person limits a lot of the instruction that I can do with my seven and eight year old kids. So I’ve definitely had to shift that. And it’s still a work in progress and it’s never going to be perfect. But, you know, trying our best. [chuckles]

[00:38:58] Daryl: [00:38:58] We know with our elementary children they like to touch, you know, they want to feel, they want to, they want to stand next to their classmates.

[00:39:05] They want to be able to bounce the thoughts and the ideas and the play, that’s important for their learning. And so in this virtual world, not only are you as the instructor missing that and has to adjust, but they are missing that as well. So that’s a critical part of their learning.

[00:39:21] Sydney: [00:39:21] Absolutely, ya.

[00:39:24] Daryl: [00:39:24] Ok, shoot to Karmen.

[00:39:29] Isabella: [00:39:29] Oh, I’m sorry. So, I wanted to respond to the previous speaker who talked about the difficulty of not being able to articulate and talk about math problems. One of my colleagues has successfully used Google cloud platform to invite students to help each other with the math problems. So even when the teacher’s not there, if a student was able to do a problem, they can help each other and earn extra credit by helping other classmates.

[00:40:00]So I know it’s not the same as all those live conversations, but it can help if we invite and, encourage our students to be part of that conversation online. And then for me, it’s been a huge, huge shift because as a language teacher, I was the, it was all about communicating and having classroom conversations.

[00:40:21]So I’ve really had to make a major shift and also scale back my expectations. And also, I’ve found that I used to post a lot of little assignments, but even if they’re small assignments, the kids see that and they feel overwhelmed. And so I’ve heard from many colleagues who say it’s better to chunk.

[00:40:44] And, so they only see maybe two or three assignments, but within that, maybe  there are several parts, but  it’s less overwhelming for the kids then to see a whole bunch of little assignments.

[00:40:56] Daryl: [00:40:56] Yeah. Yeah. Great. Thank you. Karmen.

[00:41:00] Karmen: [00:41:00] So I want to say that we have a lot going on in the chat box.

[00:41:06] There are a lot of great questions and I was going to turn it over to Nikevia actually to, I’m just putting it to Nikevia, to just kind of walk us through some of the great comments and conversation that’s going on there. Nikevia.

[00:41:20] Nikevia: [00:41:20] Yeah. So there are a lot of comments and questions. One of the questions from the chat box is, what are some unconventional methods you are utilizing to engage families and student support networks?

[00:41:38] Daryl: [00:41:38] Great question. Who wants to tackle that? Unconventional ways you’re engaging families. Go ahead Heather.

[00:41:53] Heather: [00:41:53] So, I mean, I find myself communicating with parents more than I was before. Most of my interaction before, was mostly with the student. But now, we’re all about the FaceTiming. FaceTiming is happening all the time with the whole family. And, I’m sure that I speak for many of the teachers here, when I say that sometimes I feel more like a tech support representative than an educator.

[00:42:20]Because students or a lot of students just don’t have those basic computer literacy skills. So I spend a lot of my time FaceTiming and working out technology with families. I think that a lot of people who aren’t in education think that kids are really good at technology, because they’re always on their phones and they’re always typing.

[00:42:44] But a phone is not the same as a computer. So I spent maybe two hours on FaceTime with a family, just getting a student to find the Word. In his computer and open Microsoft Word and type up, and then attach that document to the assignment to be able to submit it. It just took a really, really long time.

[00:43:05]And that’s something that’s so small, that we assume that kids can do, but they just don’t have those skills. So I’m wondering if moving forward when we go back to school, if we’re going to have some additions to the common core. So instead of just those, well in English reading informational texts, if we’re going to have computer literacy, you know, 5.2.

[00:43:27] I can definitely kind of see that happening as, as we open up.

[00:43:34]Karmen: [00:43:34] Isabella, I see your hand.

[00:43:38]Isabella: [00:43:38] So, one way I’ve tried to engage the family is to invite students to use family members in skits, but always as one option because I want to be mindful that depending on the family situation, that’s not always a good idea either. The parents might be super stressed or busy, or not available.

[00:43:57]But, just as one possible option. And on the weekly zoom calls, I’ve done a scavenger hunt and one of the things that they could come and show me was a family member for bonus points.

[00:44:10] Karmen: [00:44:10] Awesome. Is there anyone else that would like to respond to the question that Nikevia raised? About innovative. There’s some other things in the chat box, one we were talking about adjustments and what adjustments are you making? And we talked around professionally, but a lot of us are parents and, Julie even mentioned she, you know, about six or seven times, her kids have come in, I promise you my kids would have been right here had I not lock the door and locked them out of the room. [chuckles]

[00:44:39]But, you know, it’s hard doing this work. And so for those of you that may be parents or maybe have other responsibilities at home during this time, how have you been able to navigate, you know, teaching and working with your students and their families while also maintaining your home and ensuring that, for instance, your children are safe and logging on to their Google classroom meetings or zoom meetings or whatever, what have you.

[00:45:16] We talked about this yesterday. I’ll call them, okay.

[00:45:18] [laughing]

[00:45:20] Daryl: [00:45:20] Does that question, right? Karmen,

[00:45:28] Karmen: [00:45:28] You were put on notice. No, I saw Isabella’s hand…

[00:45:31] Daryl: [00:45:31] We’re gonna call on people we haven’t heard from in a while.

[00:45:34] [laughing]

[00:45:35]Karmen: [00:45:35] Isabella and then, Linda. Linda has her hand raised as well.

[00:45:40] Isabella: [00:45:40] So I’m actually pretty fortunate because my son is kind of older and pretty independent. And I can trust him to get on Google classroom and do his thing. But, my thing has been just, I have to, my my to do list is like never ending. There are more kids I need to call, there are more things that I need to do. I need to create assignments for five different classes. And, so I just have to, at one point, like, listen to myself and, do some self care and say, okay, I’m signing off for the day, I can’t do anymore. My eyes hurt and I need a break. So you have to tell yourself that it’s not a normal teaching situation.

[00:46:18] It is a pandemic and you can’t like burn yourself out.

[00:46:26] Karmen: [00:46:26] And thank you for that reminder. It’s not normal. Right. And we’re all, you know, doing the best we can. Linda.

[00:46:36]Linda: [00:46:36] Hi everyone, [inaudible] I mean for me, they are older and, very responsible. I do check every morning, make sure they’re on their computers and make sure that they’re starting their assignments. And then when the school day ends, I make sure we stop and go do something and go for walk. We do something like that just to kind of keep, that kind of normalcy flow. I think setting up some kind of schedule with the kids. I know in Indiana we were asked to schedule regular Google meet time. So we have designated times try to help them stay on track with timing and scheduling, and so they can go through a process and checking in with parents and they’re scheduling as well. And kind of to make sure that the work is being done. I know some families, some of the kids don’t get the computer until Wednesday, cause their parents are using it. So it’s just, it’s an adjustment for everyone. And, being flexible I think is an important thing, that we need to remember and keep in mind, not only for our students, but also for ourselves.

[00:47:43] And we need to make sure that  we are taking care of everybody involved in this situations.

[00:47:51] Karmen: [00:47:51] Thank you, Linda. Kevin?

[00:47:55] Daryl: [00:47:55] Kevin?

[00:47:58] Karmen: [00:47:58] I think your mic was off, and, now it’s muted again.

[00:48:21] Daryl: [00:48:21] Yeah.

[00:48:25] So let’s, wanna go to someone else Karmen, until you can get back in, with his mic?

[00:48:35] Karmen: [00:48:35] Yeah.

[00:48:39] I was saying that I think I saw another hand. I don’t remember.

[00:48:42] Daryl: [00:48:42] Ok, I see his mic is on now.

[00:48:46] Karmen: [00:48:46] Ok, good. So Kevin and then Kyair.

[00:48:47] Thank you. Kevin, you’re up.

[00:48:55] Kevin: [00:48:55] Is it, can you guys hear me?

[00:48:57] Karmen: [00:48:57] Yes, good.

[00:48:58] Kevin: [00:48:58] Oh my God. Sorry about that. I almost forget the question at this point. I just wanted to go on with what Linda had said about, I have two kids at home as well, and luckily they are older. And so it is still important though, for us to keep a schedule, and just know when, you know, we have different Google meets.   They knew when I was supposed to have this meeting today, and so they took that as, they didn’t have to be on working, but both of them were gaming, which was the problem I had at the beginning. So I had to go and kick them both off their computers because I couldn’t do anything. But I think it’s important that the teachers that have students at home keep everybody on a schedule. And just like Linda said, you have to be able to shut everything down, you know, at the end of the day and walk away from it.

[00:49:39] And that’s one of the things I’ve also stressed with my parents and students is,  it’s a different kind of time.  I don’t want anybody to stress out. You have to, if you have a problem, then, you know, just walk away from it until you get in touch with me and I’ll walk you through it, whether it’s through a Google meet. But just balancing all of that and just knowing that if there’s frustration that it’s okay to walk away until you get the answers that you need and just not to overstress about anything.

[00:50:07] But it’s been a challenge as we’ve gone through with the two kids. They haven’t bothered me when I’ve told them not to, but that’s just cause they’re a little bit older. And I have talked to other teachers who have very young ones at home. Who has, it’s just a different ballgame for them.

[00:50:20] And, you know,  they’re balancing feeding their kids and all that stuff, that I don’t have to do with the teaching and all those aspects as well. So I think maintaining a schedule and just being able to walk away and still trying to do things outside and just normal with your family, across the board is important.

[00:50:39] Daryl: [00:50:39] Great.

[00:50:41] Karmen: [00:50:41] Daryl, I’ll turn it back over to you.

[00:50:43] Daryl: [00:50:43] Okay. You know, Karmen, I’m looking at the chat box, there so much in there. I mean, I wish we had all day. We could do, but there are a couple of things I wanna mention. But then there’s a question I want to go to.

[00:50:55] We’ve got people in the chat room that are on not classroom teachers. We’ve got social workers, we’ve got pupil personnel workers, we’ve got counselors, we’ve got nurses. And so I want to ask the question. To the panel in terms of your outreach to students and families, what’s your experience been like utilizing those resources that you normally had in school or are you challenged by not being able to have those resources?

[00:51:28]The nurse, the counselor, the pupil personnel worker, the social worker. You know how have you been able to sort of navigate either with or without those resources? Jade first.

[00:51:46] Jade: [00:51:46] So, we’re pretty fortunate right now, in my district because, right now they have mailed out devices to every student pretty much, as long as somebody requested it, they have one.

[00:51:56]So we’ve had experiences where if we did need a social worker, or if we needed a school counselor, they’re able to jump in on a Google meet and talk to the kids. So they’re still like conducting regular sessions to make sure that kids are okay socially and emotionally. So that has been very helpful. And even our school nurse has been in on classroom sessions just to talk about things related to health or just checking in to see how the kids are doing.

[00:52:24] So it’s been nice for us.

[00:52:28] Daryl: [00:52:28] Isabelle.

[00:52:31] Isabella: [00:52:31] So we’ve been fortunate to have, in addition to our academic counselors, we have what’s called the serenity center that’s staffed with social workers and psychologists. And so I’ve established a relationship with one of the counselors there. And as I’m getting results of a survey that I put out to kids to see how they were feeling, I’m seeing lots of red flags.

[00:52:52] I want to say almost 20% of my students are, have a combination of not sleeping well, not eating well, not exercising, being very stressed. And so I’ve created a Google sheet that I’m sharing with the counselor who’s going to again follow up. And she has, you know, tons of resources, mindfulness activities for them.

[00:53:13]And, so there’s a lot of kids that are are struggling emotionally, and that’s something to keep in mind as we are grading. Like, some kids are fine, but a lot of them are not.

[00:53:28] Daryl: [00:53:28] And Isabella those are really just the ones we’re able to reach. There are probably a lot of kids that you haven’t even been able to reach for a variety of reasons.

[00:53:39] What do you say about this, Sydney?

[00:53:41] Well, firstly, we’re going to add.

[00:53:43] Sydney: [00:53:43] So I was just going to add, again, from an elementary standpoint, you know, it’s been kind of humbling for me to hear from parents who are nurses or doctors or who are working, you know, crazy jobs and crazy hours and also trying to support their kids.

[00:53:59] And again, you know, my young kids, it’s really hard for them to advocate for themselves. So I’ve kind of had to be that middleman and say, you know, I see that you haven’t been showing up. I know you’ve got a lot going on at home, and mom and dad are both working full time. Why don’t you join our counselor’s office hours today?

[00:54:18] Because it’s really hard for them to process their feelings, when they’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed and they can’t go to mom or dad because they’re also working on the computer or doing whatever they are doing for their jobs. They have nowhere else to go. And usually in school they can come talk to me or I think just tell by the look on their face that they need to take a break or they need to go talk to somebody.

[00:54:39] And that’s been one of the biggest barriers right now. I know my kids are struggling socially, and emotional. And they’re having all these kinds of feelings, they’re scared, they don’t know what’s going on. They watch the news, they hear things, and you know, sometimes we even open up conversation about it during what is supposed to be our lesson time, because they’ll, you know, butt in and ask questions like, where did coronavirus come from?

[00:55:04] And you know, they have this stuff on the back of their mind all the time. So it’s definitely been a struggle, but I’m trying really hard to utilize the resources that I do have. Our counselors have office hours and you know, even just a letting kids check in with other teachers who, you know, might brighten their day or other things like that.

[00:55:23] But it is hard. And I know our kids are struggling, especially the younger they are, and the less they’re able to manage these emotions, it’s a challenge for them.

[00:55:34] Daryl: [00:55:34] Yeah. I see your hand Kyair.

[00:55:38] Kyair: [00:55:38] Sorry. I think a lot of what’s been said is absolutely true. Like you want to make sure that the social, emotional, sort of like wholeness and that wellbeing is attended to. So and, I teach sixth grade, so know as well as your family is that there are hotlines that you can call here in Baltimore.

[00:55:56] If you need help with homework or just virtual learning, or you’re having tech issues, that the city has, you know, these remote office hours and hotlines for students and parents to call. So that they can either just talk through issues that they’re having. Give feedback to the district. I know at my school, in particular, I’ve invited those, resources, right?

[00:56:17] The social worker, our mental health professionals, to join in with my live lessons. So they’ve joined a couple of times a week. I’m also been, you know, given permission to share Google voice numbers. You know, we forward them their email access, but it’s a great, when they’re able to join in on the lesson, just like they would come into the class and make themselves available.

[00:56:37]There was also a crisis hotline that I shared with students. Students can text 741-741, and just text “home”. You can text. Texts, H O, M E, to 741-741. And I just let students know, you know, if you’re not okay, feeling ready or up to talking with teachers, you know, myself or your other team or my other team teachers that please do reach out to someone.

[00:57:01] So we do a lot with social, and mental wellbeing, at least I do in my class. Just to make sure that if you’re feeling burdened by work and then it’s too much and you’ve got a lot going on, the building itself kind of mitigated some of that, but now that you’re home all the time, those stressors kind of percolate and they come right back up.

[00:57:18] If you just shoot me a private message and let me know that something’s going on, I don’t have a right or I don’t need to know what’s going on, if you don’t feel comfortable, but if you just tell me the things are not where you can mentally commit to the work. That’s fine. The work is always going to be there as what we talk about, right?

[00:57:34] But you attending to your family and your needs, that is precious time. So I remind students, because again, I’ve got sixth graders and sometimes they get a little, like Dory on me and they kind of forget some things and they just need that reminder, right? I had a student who had somebody pass away in his family and he was concerned about work. And I had to collect him and say, I really need you to be present for your family right now.

[00:57:56]Don’t worry about the work. We will talk about the work when there’s some time that’s been passed. So I think, you know, teachers making sure that we are unfailingly courteous and unfailingly available, you know, to students. I know that there’s a lot on our plate and I’m not trying to be tone deaf and saying that we don’t have a lot ourselves to do, to take care of ourselves.

[00:58:12] But some of our students are so conditioned about the grade, the number, the this, the that. I needed to slow down and realize that that is not as important as supporting your mother or whoever, or being the this and the house. Then making sure that you’re mentally right to commit to the work. Cause again, the work’s always going to be there.

[00:58:27] But sharing those hotlines, sharing resources with students, being vulnerable yourself. I’m really stressed. The tech was really getting to me yesterday. And that’s having those circles like Sydney was saying, and just sharing. Kids just want to be heard and be valued. If you do that in your lessons. You know what, you’re doing more than enough as a teacher.

[00:58:45] So if we got teachers or other professionals on the line, just know that you’re awesome. You’re doing a lot, you’re doing more than enough, and you just make yourself available, give grace and seek grace.

[00:58:54] Daryl: [00:58:54] And as I turn is over to Karmen, I just want to make sure I say happy teacher appreciation week to all of you on the panel, to you in the audience. You do a tremendous job not just instructionally for children, but for their whole developmental  aspect of child’s growth. And so thank you. Thank you. Thank you, teachers, counselors, social workers, professionals, teach happy teacher appreciation work. Karmen, I’m going to hand it over to you.

[00:59:25] Karmen: [00:59:25] Yes, absolutely.

[00:59:26] Have happy teacher appreciation week. I don’t want to piggy back or something here that you just mentioned about grading chat box, one of our colleagues actually Nyla, she posted a question, how are you grading students during this time? Have, has grading actually, have the policies changed around grading? And then also related to that, attendance?

[00:59:46] So I see Emily and then Amber and Sydney. So Emily, we’ll start with you. Okay.

[00:59:52] Emily: [00:59:52] So we, our district, we were pretty fortunate that we do not have to have grades. We are taking attendance. And it’s the one way that we’ve seem to hold some people to be accountable. And the attendance is taken on, completion of work, however they have the entire, we’ve set it up so that they have the entire week and it doesn’t have to be done on Monday.

[01:00:17] If I assign it on Monday, they’ll have the week to do that. And I think that’s been helpful to kind of know where my kids are and what they’re doing, but also give them that grace that they need and I need, and we all need right now. So it’s been a struggle to kind of keep up with who’s doing what and kind of piecemealing that all together.

[01:00:39] But I also think it’s been nice to be able to know, okay, this person’s doing this and I know that they’re able to do that work. And I’ve even had some parents request feedback and grades and those kinds of things. So it’s been kind of all over the place. But I think it’s been helpful in a way to take some kind of attendance while still giving the grace and knowing that they have extra time to do that.

[01:01:03] And if they complete it the next week, we can go back and change that that day from absent to missing, so that’s how we’ve been doing it.

[01:01:13] Karmen: [01:01:13] Thank you, Amber. And then Sydney.

[01:01:18] Amber: [01:01:18] So in my district, it’s just a huge digital divide. They decided to just would not be fair to continue with grades because every child does not have that same access. So, luckily we were able to finish third quarter before we got out of school. So now everything really is optional. Everything that we provide to students are optional, all of the work.

[01:01:44] So that’s where we are with grades. But parents who do want feedback in my class, like a lot of them do want to know, like, do want their children to have like graded assignments because, that’s how they relat, how well their children are doing. So, I do, you know, it’s easy to set up quizzes with anything with Google, Google forms, I use Canvas. All of, several different resources that I use to let kids take auto automated quizzes to get a grade. But other than that, everything is optional in the district.

[01:02:17] Sydney: [01:02:17] So my…

[01:02:19] Karmen: [01:02:19] Sydney go ahead.

[01:02:19] Sydney: [01:02:19] Sorry. My responses are very similar to Emily and Amber’s. Our County has said like nothing to do with grading, but we’ve been instructed to, and I think it’s really important to continue feedback. So for all of the work that our kids are turning in, you know, I’m taking the time to give them notes or some sort of feedback, not just saying, okay, it’s complete. I’m trying to give them some meaningful feedback so that they still feel like they’re doing this work and it has a purpose. And I’m able to acknowledge the hard work that they’ve been providing or, and give, you know, help and kind of pointers where they need to be moving and shifting if their work isn’t, you know, aligning with what the lesson was. So that they still are getting meaningful teaching and meaningful feedback on the work that they are putting in while they’re distant learning.

[01:03:19]Karmen: [01:03:19] Jade, I think your, did you want to add for that?

[01:03:24] Jade: [01:03:24] But my district is kind of the same as, Sydney, Emily and Amber’s. We’re not really giving, you know, actual grades. It’s more so giving descriptive feedback, because you genuinely can’t hold a child accountable for some of the things that they’re doing right now. I work in an elementary school and kids are pretty much teaching, some kids are teaching themselves.

[01:03:44]So it, yeah, a lot of our, what we have going on and my school district is giving a lot of descriptive feedback. If the parents want to know more, they can set up office hours with the teacher and just get more information.

[01:04:00]Karmen: [01:04:00] Heather and then Isabella.

[01:04:03] Heather: [01:04:03] Yeah. So our grading policy, again is kind of similar, but we actually are giving grades. It’s just that this last grading period can only help a student’s average. So if a student, I think it was, Nyla, in the comments who said, have you noticed any of your students began failing since switching to online learning?

[01:04:24] So, yes, there are some students who all year long have been straight A students. And since switching to virtual teaching have just really struggled, for a variety of reasons. Every student has their own unique set of challenges at home. So yes, I’ve definitely noticed that. So this is a grading period that can only help a grade, it can’t hurt.

[01:04:45] And for me, when it comes to instruction, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Sydney was saying, so that students are finding meaning and purpose, in what we’re doing in class.

[01:04:56] So I did end up kind of changing all of my plans for the rest of the school year. As I’m sure a lot of us have, and instead I have my students, reading a novel, answering some questions, and then I have live streamed sessions where students can log in and talk with me. And that’s when we have a conversation around the novel. So I actually let them choose. So I have two different live stream days, and they attend the live stream for the novel of their choice. And my students love reading and love talking about what they’re reading.

[01:05:27] So they really, really enjoyed that style. And it gives them kind of, like Sidney was saying, some kind of purpose, some kind of fun within all of this because it’s kinda like having a book club with a bunch of kids, you know. And definitely what Emily was saying, keeping track of the students and what they’re completing is challenging for sure.

[01:05:46]I have 143 students. So going through and seeing who is completing what, is a challenge. And making sure I’m not letting anybody slip through the cracks or feel ignored is really important, now more than ever.

[01:06:02] Karmen: [01:06:02] Right. I think Isabella, I think, think you were next.

[01:06:06]Isabella: [01:06:06] Yeah, so my district wanted to strike a balance between, you know, being mindful of all the equity issues and also keeping kids accountable. So, if a student wasn’t failing at quarter three, they can’t fail. And they can improve their grade as much as they want to. But if they continue to disengage, even though they’ve received a Chromebook, we’ve helped them set up wifi, we’ve been in constant communication with their parents. If they continue to disengage their grade can go down one letter grade, as long as it’s not an F. So say they had a C, it can go down to a D. So there’s like a bit of a carrot and a stick approach. A little bit of both.

[01:06:52] Karmen: [01:06:52] Thank you. Thank you. I wanted to, can we, it’s helpful I guess, on the same lines of the grades, right. How are you, you or your districts or your school, how have you been advised to deal with students who are just not attending, your virtual learning sessions? Or they’re not engaging in any way, how are you handling that? What, what policies or guidance have you been getting given around that?

[01:07:19] And let’s go to Julie. We haven’t heard from Julie in awhile.

[01:07:23] Julie: [01:07:23] Yes, we have a lot of support from guidance counselors and they have a system set up where if they are not showing up for our meetings or if they’re not turning in assignments. You know, obviously, it’s up to the teachers to reach out to the kid or the parents as often and as much as we can. And if that doesn’t work, then we go to the guidance counselor and she’ll make the call and touch base and find out what’s going on with the family. And then it goes to the principal. If that is, you know, that doesn’t do it, it goes to the principal.

[01:07:57] And then to you know, higher up. So that eventually, you know, because it’s truancy when they don’t attend. And in our district, attendance is assignments being turned in. So we’re not grading, but the, you know, it is an attendance issue if they’re not turning in their work.

[01:08:15]So, you know, we do have some supports. We have para educators that also check in with some of these families. So they’re, you know, there’s  a wide safety net that we have in place. So it’sbeen a positive experience for the majority of what’s happening here.

[01:08:37] Thank you. Julie. Emily, I think your hand was up there as well.

[01:08:43] Emily: [01:08:43] Hi, is because Julie and I teach together, my experience with that is similar. So I second what Julie said.

[01:08:53] Karmen: [01:08:53] Thank you. And Linda does as well. I saw a thumbs up.

[01:08:57] Can we, I guess, Daryl, I’m sorry, I’m just taking notes. [chuckles]

[01:09:01] Daryl: [01:09:01] No, that’s fine. But, but I think it sounded like you want to just sort of transition to the chat room.

[01:09:07] Karmen: [01:09:07] Yeah.

[01:09:09] Daryl: [01:09:09] There’s a lot. I did have a question that is actually coming from the chat box. It was going to be my next question. Anyway, so we haven’t talked a lot about students with disabilities. Students with, with language challenges, English learners. So let’s have a little bit of conversation about this whole distance learning circumstance and the challenges that those students are having and what your experiences are with them with students with disabilities. And, excuse me, English learners. Go ahead Kyair.

[01:09:48] Kyair: [01:09:48] Yeah. So, I really like a platform called Nearpod, N E A R P O D. School districts and teachers can get access to it for free right now because of COVID-19. But there’s a feature on Nearpod called immersive reader. Again, that’s an immersive reader powered by Microsoft.

[01:10:12] And what’s great about it is, you know, students as I’m doing a Nearpod lesson or a lesson within Nearpod, students can click this button and directions will be read aloud to them. They can repeat that or click the button as many times as they want. They can change and vary the speed they can, you know, click a word and the word will be defined.

[01:10:31] And if available, the word will also have an image or a picture. Students can kind of toggle a couple of buttons and they can see the various parts of speech for those directions. I’ve also enabled students to record answers, instead of type answers. So that’s been really helpful. Again, the app is called Nearpod and  it’s the immersive reader function.

[01:10:54]I was also doing some professional development with our school and a lot of the Microsoft products, because immersive reader on Nearpod is powered by Microsoft. You know, you can see the immersive reader in Microsoft teams, and in a few other of the Microsoft applications, depending on what your like school suite is.

[01:11:11] So I know in Baltimore city, that immersive reader function is on most of the resources provided through Microsoft, which is just a really helpful feature. Obviously what I, sorry, left out, is that if you have an ESL or an ELL population, you can translate that for as many languages as Microsoft has access to which is far and many, when I saw the dropdown menu. Students can have the directions read to them in their native language, have them translated. And again, all of those features I said, as far as speed, parts of speech, picture and the definition would be provided as well. So I really enjoy using Nearpod.

[01:11:42] I’ve done FaceTimes with families, to modify some of the work, that way we can talk through what is appropriate. Maybe doing just a mini one off, you know, lesson on YouTube and sharing a private link. For families, if they don’t have internet access, again, it’s making yourself available with phone calls.

[01:11:59] I’ve got a resource teacher who’s our special education resource teacher. She jumps on my lessons with me and is there every day to make sure that there are online accommodations. I can do a breakout room in the video platform that we use, which is called Blackboard Collaborate. And she’s able to sort of work with a small group into a turn and talk that way.

[01:12:18] So we have found ways, you know, they not as good probably as what we could, you know, enforce or provide in the school building. But as far as online, the, the parents being available just to even sit next to their child through the duration of my lesson,  has really helped. But I think that that immersive reader function could be applicable or helpful for students who are learning the language or are coming to with the language and our students with disabilities, our IEPs or 504s.

[01:12:45] Daryl: [01:12:45] Fabulous. I think we want to put that resource on our page karmen, Nearpod. And we’ll get some more information and we’ll get to put that in the chat box so that all the participants can hear that. I don’t remember whose hand was next, so help me out here. [chuckles]

[01:13:03] I see Devon’s raising her hand, but I don’t know if I skipped anyone prior. Go ahead Devon.

[01:13:13] Devon: [01:13:13] You’re on

[01:13:14] Daryl: [01:13:14] mute Devon.

[01:13:14] Devon: [01:13:14] Okay. Well I work with English language learners and well ‘veI definitely have had a lot of positive moments. I do want to say it is quite challenging for them to do, for many students. And I work with some of the kids who are newest to learning English. In a lot of ways it’s just really an added level of complexity. And it’s a lot of the same challenges that we’re working in and you know, able to overcome in the classroom.

[01:13:38] But when you have to do stuff on the computer, it just, I feel like is overlaying a whole other language, like the whole kind of language of the computer as well. So it’s complicated and we’re having a lot of ways to help them. And I think we are finding successes of making it easier. But just it’s difficult to understand things then in that kind of one removed way.

[01:14:02] And another thing, something that a lot of people were talking about was not being able to have that face to face, that kind of, or not face to face, the conversational interactions. And that’s been really hard because that is really a big part of our learning, is talking to us, talking to other kids.

[01:14:21] And while we do a lot of Google meet, we do a lot of stuff to mitigate that. It’s not the same, you know, so it does create challenges. And then another part that’s been hard, is to give some of the social, like emotional support. So while I do a lot of emails with kids, and basically it is for the kids who are tuning in, are showing up, we are able to work around it. Doing a lot of emails or just a lot of check-ins on how they’re feeling.

[01:14:46] But for the kids who aren’t tuning in as much, it is really hard to give that support that maybe, they don’t really want to do it on the computer, but if I see them in class and they’re feeling down, we can talk about it and I can kind of reach out to them. But for the kids who aren’t, who was just not working for them on the computer, it is really hard to catch up with them.

[01:15:08] And, I do like with families, a lot of families are kind of scared and those, some families are doing well, but like for the kids who are having a hard time, it is pretty hard. And it’s hard because sometimes people have just come from, you know, a really unstable, like another country and like a war torn place and now they’re here and they’re kind of going through another trauma again.

[01:15:33] But yeah, I mean, I could keep going on about it, but just to kind of wrap to say a positive though, is the kids are really resilient at the same time. So that’s one thing that I think is like when we see a lot of challenges and like struggles that kids are going through, but at the same time, some of the kids I’ve talked to, they’re like, well, I’ve been through hard times before.

[01:15:53] This is another time, and I’m going to get through this too. So I do, they are really resilient kids. It just makes it a lot more difficult for them.

[01:16:03] Daryl: [01:16:03] Ya, that’s great. Linda, was that your hand up that I saw? Linda?

[01:16:10] Linda: [01:16:10] Yes, is was, sorry, I just now noticing my picture’s really dark. Sorry, I believe the question was how are we responding to the learning support kids and the ESL kids.

[01:16:21]Fortunately in Indiana, we’re very blessed to have wonderful ESL teachers, learning support teachers, and they chat with their caseloads. They’re listed in every single Google classroom, and they are listed as the co-teachers in there with us. So they check in with what we’re doing. They make contacts with the kiddos several times a week, to work through lessons with them and go over any assignments that they may be having trouble with.

[01:16:45]I know a lot of times it can be very expensive as someone else pointed out, just walking the parents through the computers and setting them up because some of them are more computer savvy. Some of them  just got devices from the school and this is their first time using them. So I think a lot of kudos has to go out to those folks.

[01:17:06] That’s our ESL teacher, so thank you. You have any learning support teachers, they’re putting in a lot of time and working through a lot of things with the kids. And so the kids are attending not only our Google Hangouts, but also Google Hangouts that are supported and supplied by the district. So that’s kind of how we’re doing it and also offering extra classes if we need it.

[01:17:27] Daryl: [01:17:27] Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, Karmen.

[01:17:30] Karmen: [01:17:30] Yeah. Thank you all so much for all of your wonderful comments. I just want to highlight right now it is to really consider, as you all were just talking about giving students from grades, and understanding what’s going on in their lives or trying to understand, what’s going on in your lifestyle as teachers.

[01:17:50]But with your students and their families, what are all the things, the possibilities of things they could be dealing with right now? And, I just want to thank you all so much for your comments around really what you said around grace. You’re trying to do things innovatively, you’re trying to connect with students in different ways, and that, you know, the education and learning right now is different.

[01:18:12] And, while we want to make sure that our students are staying maybe on task or continuing to learn  and continuing  to grow in their cognitive and engagement and cognitive abilities  and things like that with all the different subjects, depending on the age group, right. That at first they’re humans, right?

[01:18:33] And then you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. That, you know, our basic needs have to be met, that need for safety and feeling safe and having food and shelter and  your emotional wellbeing. Those are all important things that make a student. Can make or break a student, right? Just like us, with us, how we’re dealing with COVID-19 and this pandemic and having to work in double, multiple things.

[01:18:59] Students have that same thing going on. I just wanted to say that, and I appreciate you all so much for mentioning that. And taking the conversation there because that really is where that equity lens, you know, comes in when we’re trying to meet the kids where they are.

[01:19:13] And thinking of needs and sticking them. I wanted to maybe talk about, if we have any policy makers that are listening in, what would you all say as our panelists today, our guest panelists of what do you need, right now? You know, professionally, what can help you continue to do what you’re doing?

[01:19:36] Okay, Isabella.

[01:19:43]Isabella: [01:19:43] Well, I really appreciated the resources that my district has made available. So we have, ed tech sessions twice a week, focusing on something that teachers might need right now, how to use Google classroom better. You know making PDFs clickable, so it’s easier for the kids to fill out worksheets.

[01:20:03]So different sessions. And, you can join either in the morning or in the afternoon, depending on what works best for you. And all the one hour sessions are on our school website, so if you miss the session, you can go back and listen to it then. But it’s just been, it makes our job easier because it was so sudden. And teachers came with a variety of comfort level using Google classrooms and all these online technologies. And it’s been, I know some of this stuff is available through YouTube, but it’s different being able to connect and see colleagues, faces, people you’re familiar with, and be able to ask questions live.

[01:20:43]So I’ve found that invaluable.

[01:20:49] Karmen: [01:20:49] Thank you. Thank you. Any last words? I’m looking at the time and I know  we have to wrap up. Anything you’d like to say to a lawmaker, policy maker? This is your time.

[01:21:03] Daryl: [01:21:03] And I think also Karmen, even if, our panelists would, if you like to recommend something to your district leaders about distance learning that you would like to see changed, what would that be as well?

[01:21:21]Karmen: [01:21:21] Heather and then Emily.

[01:21:24] Heather: [01:21:24] Yeah. I mean, I think for me, the hardest part of virtual teaching has been not seeing my students and not having that interaction. Because I don’t know about you guys, but  when my students attend my live sessions, I can only hear them. Their cameras are disabled. So I can only listen to them and hear them, but I can’t see them at all. So, and a lot of times they have to say their name first because I don’t always know who is talking. So I would love to be able to see our students. And I know the reason is because of different laws around that, with having children on cameras and videos and whatever goes into that. But it’s harder as an educator, for sure.

[01:22:13] Karmen: [01:22:13] Thank you, Heather. Emily.

[01:22:16] Emily: [01:22:16] And I think one thing that’s a little bit different, I guess is to remain, like giving the school districts the same grace as well and continue to give them that like as far as the grading policies go. And continue that, you know, for however long this is going to go for.

[01:22:36]I think like, you know, if this does have to go into next year or however it’s going to look, just keeping those things the same because it will still never be the normal that we know. So even if people are still, are more used to it then they were right when this all started. I think just keeping that grace, you know. We’re fortunate without grading and those kinds of things, but I hope those stay in place and that doesn’t change if we have to continue this.

[01:23:09] Yes, Isabella.

[01:23:11] Isabella: [01:23:11] I’m actually really worried about what coming back to school and look like. And just making sure that we’re as safe as possible. And as much as I miss my students, I feel scared going back. Being in a classroom environment with all the sneezing and all of that.

[01:23:32] Karmen: [01:23:32] Very, very honest and true. Yes. Thank you for sharing that. That’s, that’s very real.

[01:23:40] Let’s see. I mean, we are at time I think. I really wish we continue talking. There are some other comments in the chat box, and like yes to all of that, and especially around care. Your comment that you just put there around rethinking things like the equity conversation, is rethinking schools and technology. And what are we going to do about this digital divide, so maybe we can have a part two discussion.

[01:24:05] Daryl: [01:24:05] And, yeah Karmen, I think that goes to exactly some of the things that Isabella is concerned about. You know, what are we as educators going to do when this Covid situation, and we open what we know as school. So how are we going to ensure safety? And how are we going to provide some, continuity? And how are we gonna, you know, reconnect? What is that going to look like? Are we really expecting that we’re going back to some business as usual?

[01:24:36] Or do we really need to think forward as, in the sense that we could have another crisis that hits this country or region or state or local. And are we prepared to ensure that we’re providing not only the best education for students, but we get teachers and administrators the tools they need so that they stay connected and we keep learning going. So I think we need to look at an opportunity Karmen, to have another session to just even take that.

[01:25:14]Karmen: [01:25:14] To talk about that, exaclty.

[01:25:14] Daryl: [01:25:14] So let me just say, before I thank our panelists and our audience, I want to give a shout out to my colleague Karmen. I want to say Happy Birthday to you Karmen. Hey, happy birthday to you! You know..

[01:25:28] [wahoo]

[01:25:28] I feel blessed that you were able to see another year. And even in this situation, we just love the smile and we hope that you have a very happy day.

[01:25:41] Happy teacher appreciation week to our audience. Thank you. We want you to make sure that you, that there’s a survey at the end and we want you to fill out that survey. Give us your feedback so that we know how we proceed in our next opportunities where we’re going to engage in another conversation. And to our panelists, my goodness, you are an awesome group of educators.

[01:26:07] I cannot thank you enough for your contributions to this conversation, to what you’re sharing and what we’re going to share across the country. Everything that has been said here, I think has been a way for us to elevate our thinking about how we teach and how we learn and what the future of education needs to look like.

[01:26:30] So thank you much. Karmen, you want to close with anything.

[01:26:34] Karmen: [01:26:34] I just want to remind folks, I know it’s in the chat box. Please take our survey before you log off so that, Daryl did you just say that? Sorry.

[01:26:42] Daryl: [01:26:42] That’s okay. You can say it again. Reemphasize it.

[01:26:46] Karmen: [01:26:46] I think I might be traumatized. So please take our survey.

[01:26:49] Daryl: [01:26:49] It’s all the birthday celebration, right?

[01:26:50] [laughing]

[01:26:53] Thank you. I mean, our panelists, just, my goodness. We’re going to follow up because we do expect at MAEC to have a follow up session. And, you know, we might even be thinking about how we get policymakers on the line because they need to hear exactly what you’re saying and we want to promote that and go forward.

[01:27:14] So thank you so much.

[01:27:21] Thank you for your time and stay in touch with us! Thank you. Have a good day.

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