When this year started we all knew we were in for a once in a lifetime ride (hopefully). In South Florida our school year began with two weeks of virtual learning where everyone was home. Teachers and students worked from their homes struggling to get to know each other and breaking the expecations of what classroom set up looked like.
After two weeks the teachers were called back to the classroom. We returned with some of our students and naïve confidence that all of our students would return by the end of first quarter. Naive as it was we all optimistically believed that having to conduct one class on two platforms would be temporary and we would transition back to our normal lives by October.
Since August we’ve had several updates and transitions. New proclaimations are launched by state and local government. Administration pivots, backtracks and issues new initiatives almost daily. The wear of the year is apparent on the faculty and the kids.
Enter the holidays.
Can the year get crazier? Yes. Plus gravy.
Everyday is roller coaster. Space Mountain to be exact. The fun of this roller coaster is every morning comes with new unknown obstacles right around the corner. Our students currently have the choice of when they attend in person and when they can attend class through zoom.
While choice is always the best option it is incredibly stressful to have a plan and then have three kids walk into your room with the other 15 on zoom first period and 15 in class and 3 on zoom the next. We are adapting and pivoting within seconds. Making decisions about well crafted lessons in under a second and reexamining learning objectives and goals on a constant basis. My inbox is never clear and deadlines seem to be a suggestion of a bygone era.
However, this is the season to be thankful and I am.
I am thankful to be employed in a profession I love. I am thankful that the adversity has bonded my classes to be closer than ever before. Kids understand the obstacles and adapt without protest. We are all on a never ending Space Moutain ride together.
I am also thankful for finding Scrum this summer. The introduction of EduScrum in my classroom this year has saved my sanity. The framework has allowed students to take an active and engaging roll in their learning. They are collaborating, participating and taking the lead on all of their projects. Students are connected no matter where they are and the results are in the work they produce.
Eduscrum was introduced on the first day or school and since the beginning it has been the framework that has run our lives in U.S. Government. The students know they are responsible for their own work, their pace and their product. They must complete pre-agreed upon checkpoints and assessments, but everything has a rubric that they have from the beginning of the project. They know exactly what to expect and most importantly they understand the WHY.
Their learning is purposeful and because they understand why they are asked to complete certain tasks and develop different skills there is an enthusiasm that cannot be seen in every classroom. Now at the end of second semester there is a level of trust between us. They know I will never assign a task just because or as a day filler. Each assignment is specifically planned and built upon one another to establish mastery learning.
After 5 months together the kids yell out in excitement when they make the connections between lessons, activities and assessments. The Stand Up Meetings and Review sessions built into EduScrum help them achieve this level of metacognition because they are constantly being asked to reflection on themselves and their groups. They are able to build on past mistakes and the mistakes of others because they are more connected that ever before.
Imagine that… In the middle of distance learning… When we do not know who is coming into the building and who will be virtual…. we are more connected than ever before.
There are ways that we can utilize during this constantly evolving time that still enable us to master content, develop skills, give kids agency in their learning and keep us connected. We do not have to submit to worksheets and lecture. Kids can be engaged and happy. I won’t lie and tell you teacher life is carefree, but I can’t imagine my class without EduScrum this year. Lecturing in a mask, entertaining a class instead of letting them set the tone.
I am thankful that my students are learning soft skills, responsibility, time management and project management while fully engaged in our U.S. Government content.