By Tyler Ohashi and Ashley Warawa
Tyler and Ashley teach Grade 7 at George Elliot Secondary School in Lake Country. They share a cohort of 60 students, of which they platoon teach; Tyler does the learning around Math and Science, and Ashley does the English and Social Studies curriculum. They both also teach one block of Grade 9s.
When they first sat down to figure out how they were going to create this online learning experience, they decided they wanted to make things manageable and included routine. They wanted their kids to have structure and organization to provide stability for them, during a time where very few things are anchored down. See how they built a weekly schedule that provides a lot of structure, yet flexibility at the same time!
1. How are you collaborating together within a secondary schedule during this time of remote learning?
Ashley and Tyler were already using Google Classroom pre-COVID 19, however, they have truly seen the power of it during these times, and say it has been amazing for maintaining the structure they already had. Tyler said, “One of the ways we have been able to collaborate is by creating a schedule that works for both of us. We use a Google Doc that we have separated into Math/Science, and English/Social Studies, and we plan our week at a glance out on that, to then send out to our kids.”
Both Ashley and Tyler felt that it is important, and has proven to be valuable, to have consistency within the weekly timetable. “When our kids wake up in the morning, they know that every day they have a Zoom with either Ashley or myself at 9:00 AM. We use this time to go through the day with them, and the assignments that they are working on.”
2. How do you organize your time during the week?
Tyler and Ashley have continued to use a secondary schedule, where they have a Day 1 and Day 2. Therefore, the students will have Science/Math with Tyler on one day, and English/Social Studies with Ashely on the next, and this will continue to rotate. Every day one of them will Zoom with all 60 students at 9:00 AM, and go over the assignments and learning for the day. This meeting is always recorded, and posted on Google Classroom for those students who weren’t able to make the live meeting. They take attendance every day, and say that they have almost 100% of their learners sign on every morning! Ashley and Tyler attribute this to the consistency of their schedule, and that it mirrors attending school regularly.
The rest of the day, the teachers are available for small groups, or 1-1 Zoom instruction.
When students need assistance or have questions, Tyler has them message him on Classroom, and within minutes he opens up his Zoom, and is able to be responsive to those students needing help. Tyler leaves this contact window open all day. He said sometimes he is responding to students in the evening, but he doesn’t mind, as that is what works for him for his own schedule. He states, “I have set up the Classroom alert with a different sound on my phone, so I know it is from one of my students. So it doesn’t matter where I am, if I’m outside, or helping my daughter with her work, I can still respond to my students when they need me. It’s almost like I’m in the classroom, they can use my help within minutes.”
Ashley likes to structure her time a little differently, where she will ask, or identify, the students who are needing extra support with a topic or assignment, and then schedule individual 15 minute meeting blocks for each of those students. Ashley says, “Sometimes I give them a choice, and sometimes I schedule them in to make sure I can check in with them to see how they are doing, and have that 1-1 time with me.” With that said, Ashley also wants her students to continue working on independence, “I'm still putting a lot of responsibility on the students, and getting them to work on keeping up with their own work, but I’m there to offer support for those who need it.”
Despite it being their “day” or not, both Ashley and Tyler have made themselves readily available for help and guidance.
3. What kind of feedback are you getting from students and parents?
Ashley and Tyler have been using a variety of methods for gathering feedback from their students from face to face check-ins, emails, and Google Forms. It was on their Google questionnaire where they found they got a lot of valuable information to help guide them with how much work to assign each week, and how the kids were feeling in regards to their remote learning. Tyler said, “It was the open ended question that the kids got into real specifics about what was stressing them out, or what they were liking the most.”
From there, Ashley and Tyler continued to use the voices of their students to help guide the planning of instruction and work.
4. What takeaways or silver linings have you come away with thus far?
Communication and collaboration have increased for these two, albeit different, they are definitely grateful to have each other. “We are constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and sharing conversations we have had with our students. Tyler is more of the statistics gatherer, and I’m more of the ‘write your feelings person’! We then take that information and put it together to get a sense of what is going on to find out the best solution for our students.”, states Ashley.
Another big takeaway for Tyler is he has really seen the value of organization throughout these times of remote learning. He feels that it has been super helpful not only for himself, but for his students and parents as well.
Ashely has found using Google Classroom and Docs more regularly and in depth, and this has been eye opening for her, as it is something she will continue to use in this manner. She said, “Traditionally I would assign things to students and they would print and hand it in, and then it would pile up and take me forever to get through marking and giving feedback. This way, I always have their work, it is right there, and I’m giving as much feedback as I can.” She has used Google for the past few years, but during this time of COVID, she has been given an opportunity to go deeper into G-Suite and see how it can be used best for her and her students.
Upon reflection, Ashley and Tyler have a lot of positive takeaways from this remote learning experience, many of which they will carry forth into their in-person classroom back at GESS!
A huge thank you to Ashley and Tyler for making themselves vulnerable and sharing what they are doing so far!
To see more of what Ashley and Tyler are doing…
To see examples of what other educators in our district are doing, click here:
For more ideas about how to schedule learning, click here.