Once upon a time, in a land not too far away (Los Angeles, CA), I once engaged in, planned and facilitated, and tried to stay awake through quite a few professional development sessions. Most were mandated and scheduled right before school started in the hopes that something would transform our practice so much that 100% of our students mastered all learning objectives in 180 instructional days. After a few weeks of school, many of us were overwhelmed and discouraged that all of those awesome strategies and techniques didn’t work with every situation, every subject, or every student. I do not envy district and school administrators tasked with the responsibility of selecting and organizing PD each year.
Math questions and story problems have the unique reputation of being the focus of many memes on how confusing they can be (Question: If you have 3 pencils and 6 oranges, how many waffles will fit in a car? Answer: Blue because ducks quack.). Now imagine a teacher repeating, reviewing, restating terms and solution steps so that students finally understand. A scheduled one-hour lesson can easily take half a day! Now imagine that scenario in a virtual environment. (I can already hear the crying…from teachers, students, and parents!) Thankfully, G Suite for Education has tools that can support math teaching and learning, while making the experience engaging, interactive, and successful.
As we have all learned recently, not only can teachers adapt well to change, but they can do it quickly! Having been accustomed to in-person interaction — roaming a classroom to check ongoing progress, meeting with small groups at the “round table” for personalized instruction, and generally just being able to be with their students -- shifting to a remote, distance teaching environment has been a challenge. Yet, millions of teachers have done so with an enthusiasm and grace that is astounding and admirable.
There’s a popular idiom that is generally used to describe changes in weather – March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It seems that no truer words have ever been said. This past month has felt like a roaring lion, the powerful sound vibrating around us in the forms of social distancing, shelter-in-place directives, changes in how we shop and travel, and school closures. It seems unlikely that anyone has escaped the repercussions of COVID-19, and as we attempt to find balance in continuously changing circumstances, our children are also trying to make sense of the world they now live in.