Updated: Mar 29
The change in routine from remote teaching, hybrid, back to remote block, then more remote, back to hybrid, and now finally all in person has forced a new “normal” and flexibility.
As teachers, we have taught about 1,000 preps (ok, maybe that is an exaggeration but it feels like it!) We have fielded(ing) what feels like thousands of emails of which students are on quarantine and will be joining via Webex (our version of Zoom), who are in quarantine but not joining via Webex, in quarantine with COVID, in quarantine due to COVID in household — and the list goes on and on and on.
I used to keep a spreadsheet of when students were in and out of quarantine and make sure I lecture to my laptop camera (Webex) then engage students in the class, make sure I don’t show my backside to the poor quarantine kids! As soon as I feel like I was in a groove, one student would say, “Mrs. Hair” Evan needs to be let into Webex — SHOOT EVAN!? Wait, is he in quarantine? The system was failing — old ways didn’t work with new problems.
In August, EVERYTHING was new. I do mean everything. New LMS for me (Canvas from Schoology), new Adobe Creative Cloud versions, and we all know the list would last 4 paragraphs the amount of time the “mitigation procedures,” “teacher expectations” and “attendance rules” changed it seemed every other day. I decided to make it ALL new. Curriculum included.
I also decided while I couldn’t control whether or not our students would be remote, hybrid, or in person, I COULD control my level of knowledge and take on new and exciting projects (to me anyway…)!
Last Spring, I caught a post from a co-worker through a normal scroll on Facebook in a Business Educators Facebook group. Before pandemic teaching was our life, I viewed Facebook groups similar to the dreaded teachers lounge, a space and a place for negativity and complainers. On a whim, I submitted my application for invitation to the group.
I was blown away. Good ideas followed by great ideas from teachers I recognize from other social media channels as well as trusted teachers from surrounding school districts. I decided to join several Graphic Design Teachers Facebook groups, Adobe Creative Cloud Teachers Facebook groups, Business Educator Facebook groups and the amount of Fa
cebook teaching groups dedicated to Remote Teaching in the pandemic had members in the THOUSANDS.
I found Facebook groups to be a positive and inviting teachers lounge! Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of space to air grievances and discuss buildings and motivate unmotivated students, but in the space was REAL, MEANINGFUL, AUTHENTIC and concrete help. And ALWAYS a “you got this” and most of all, SHARING. We are sharing as teachers, not a profession that is exactly known for individuals sharing freely of creative and original resources.
With all the challenges of social media, I found Facebook to be my lifeline in pandemic teaching and beyond. There isn’t one day that goes by where I don’t save a post for future use, feel inspired, or try new projects and curriculum that I have found on Facebook groups. It isn’t all taking either. There are rules. You must contribute as much as you take! I have shared equally as many projects and examples as I have utilized as well. Sharing is a golden rule of Facebook for Educators!
I hope you will consider exploring this option if you are feeling alone, lonely, in a rut, or you have amazing ideas to share! We all need each other, and Facebook groups provide for thousands and thousands of educators to be inspired all while waiting at carpool, or during 5 minutes of our plan time we set aside for creativity (after going to the bathroom, of course)!
Jennifer Hair is the Director and Instructor for Connected Classroom Courses. She has taught high school business and visual arts classes for 18 years at Shawnee Mission East High School in the Kansas City metropolitan area. She also teaches numerous self-paced graduate education courses for teachers.