Carrying #SOL

“Baggage” has such a negative connotation, but I actually appreciate the imagery of a rucksack, worn in places yet still strong enough to support a heavy load. A rucksack is always carried on the back, just like the past, behind us, hopefully holding what we want to bring with us. But this baggage need not weigh me down if I’m careful and judicious about my choices and what I will carry with me.

I promised myself and my accountability partners, Tobi and Amanda, then publicly on Twitter, that I would reflect on this year, in this blog. And I promised myself that I would look back at my practice, consider the voices of students, and decide what principles I’ll use and what practices I’ll continue into this next school year. As I sort through the fragments of memory, and digital evidence of this learning year, I’ll try to be reflective.

I keep a sticker on the keyboard of my laptop, generously given to me by Autumn Caines: “computational tools aren’t going to make people recognize our humanity”. It reminds me that digital tools should support the human interaction and not replace it. I can use Google Classroom and Jamboards and still have discussions and interact with students in the classroom – both rather than one or the other. In fact, these tools can liberate me from whole class instructions and allow groups to work, and individual discussions to develop with my observation or my participation – both rather than one or the other. And that reminds me that design principles matter – a lot – and for everyone. Universal design principles with multiple access points. Design Justice is such a great place to begin because education is all about equity and justice.

When I was physically in the classroom, I’d begun the practice of book talks and silent reading at the beginning of each period followed by a writing prompt (modelling 180 Days by Kittle and Gallagher) My grade 10s were reading more, talking about books more, and this year, the writing of my grade 12s was some of the best I’ve seen in my career. Whether I was online or in person, these approaches to engaging and empowering students have transformed my practice and I’ll carry this with me.

3 thoughts on “Carrying #SOL

  1. I’m still not ready to write a reflection. Maybe I should commit to having it ready next Tuesday! I’m excited to figure out how all the tech-based learning we did this year can be carried forward. We are not 1:1 with devices at my school so it will be a challenge.

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  2. Melanie, we teachers tend to be reflective in our practices. This past school year was very difficult and I can image many feel like there wasn’t much that could be carried into the next school year. I love that you identified some gems that bridge technology and humanity. Enjoy your time off.

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  3. Reflection is such a valuable tool for me in my own practice, I admire you using this space for that. What a wild and in many ways traumatic year for us to reflect on as teachers. I too saw technology in a fresh light this year and have been considering implications for using it in the future because of this. It has many limitations and also allowed us to collaborate and share ideas in new ways. I’m curious about how I might hang onto some of the strengths and opportunities it offered us next year.

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