Looking Back in Order to Look Forward

I am a big fan of reflecting on things. In fact, I tend to perseverate on too many things which isn’t helpful. But that’s a story for another time.

As the school year comes to a close (five more days!)…I decided that this would be the perfect time to collect information from my students that would allow me to know what worked and didn’t work for them during these past 12 weeks, AND I could gather information on how my 8th grade colleagues could better support them if we have to either start online in the fall or quickly transition due to rising cases of COVID-19.

The Google Form is long. But it’s a nice blend of closed- and open-ended questions. Sixty-two students have already completed the reflection which is AMAZING because it’s technically not due until next Tuesday. Could the five points extra credit have been an incentive to not procrastinate? Believe me, I’ll take it any way that I can get it. 😉

So, what kind of information was I gathering? Well, here are the main sections:

  • Technology Access
  • Learning at Home
  • Looking Forward
  • Wrapping Up

One of the main concerns I had (actually it’s a concern I’ve always had considering that I work at at Title I school) is access. What kind of access do my students have? And by access I talking about devices and connectivity. The digital divide is very real where I work.

Another concern I had was the learning environment at home. I know that many of my students live in multi-generational households, or they live with multiple families in a small space. I was curious as to whether they (1) had a place to study and (2) whether that place to study was quiet. With many people having to work from home during this crisis, I know it put a strain on space at home, in general.

Because we don’t know what the fall holds for us, I also wanted to gather information on how my 8th grade colleagues could better support our students if remote learning remains in place or if we have to quickly transition from in-person to remote learning. I was curious as to what types of communication were the most helpful, and also if the students preferred a more structured approach or independent-project approach to learning.

Wrapping up the reflection, I asked students one thing that they learned about themself during this time of remote learning as well as one thing that they could change about their study habits if we have to continue with remote learning in the fall. This harkens to my goal of making sure that socio-emotional learning skills remain in the forefront of what I do.

I appreciate the honest and quite candid answers from my students. But then again, for the most part, middle schoolers tell it like it is. The fact that they don’t have a filter (or that they don’t employ it often) is one of the things that I most enjoy about working with this particular grade level.

As of this moment, I have quite a bit of quantitative and qualitative data at my finger tips. Over the summer, I’ll be working on a longer post about what this data is telling us about the benefits and challenges of this type of learning environment, and while I don’t pretend that what we’re doing at my school is indicative of what’s going on everywhere else, I am confident that teachers, students, and parents from across the U.S. are all experiencing something similar.

At least we know we’re all in this together.

If you’re interested, here is the link to the Google Form: A Time to Reflect.

P.S. If you think of other questions that should be added, please leave a comment below or email me. =)

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