Editor’s Note: Our district began concurrent/hybrid teaching over the past two weeks in elementary schools, and we begin in high school later this week. I invited Alice Mercer, an extraordinarily talented friend and colleague, to write about her first week.
I’m adding this post to A BEGINNING LIST OF THE BEST RESOURCES TO SUPPORT CONCURRENT/HYBRID TEACHING
Alice Mercer teaches fourth grade at an elementary school in Sacramento, CA. She started her career in Oakland, Ca, and moved to Sacramento in 2001. She is the parent of a now-adult son with ASD, and is a caregiver to her husband who is medically fragile. Alice is active in her union and on social media.
D Day -1: Today was the eve of students returning to class in a hybrid format. I wanted to write about my experience both before and after I start seeing kids in-person because as they say everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face (the one thing that probably won’t happen tomorrow).
I have spent the last week and a half trying to help my fellow teachers get the technology needed to teach both in-person and over Zoom concurrently. My school has a very high rate of students returning for in-person learning (over 80%). I myself have 20 students opting to return and 9 staying on full distance learning. Since we’ll be doing hybrid, on any given day, 19 students will be online in class, and 10 in-person, I’ve put them into triads with a student from each cohort.
D Day: I woke up early, put on my Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It” t-shirt, had a good breakfast and left for work. I started the Zoom meeting earlier than normal, but my zoom kids were slow to show up today (and online attendance was pretty poor the entire day — something to think about). I went out to the yard while keeping my Zoom on an iPad, and got the in-person cohort for the day.
How did it go: It went okay. I would not want this to be every day, but it was a day and an okay day. I had to spend a lot of time helping the in-person kiddos with things like getting logged into the Macbooks for the first time, etc. that will not be an issue tomorrow or going forward. Also, I forgot to tell my now fourth graders (most of whom I had last year as third graders) that they need to use the big kid bathrooms, because they are no longer primary, lol. I had them bring the iPad out with Zoom students to the mini-PE and the class only recess we do.
What worked: I feel like having the class in trios from each cohort to mix in the kids on Zoom is working (although not perfectly) for a lot of the class. I have them do independent work together. Other observations: The time was short, but I did not have a lot of assigned work today which left the Zoom kids twiddling their thumbs at points. That won’t be the case once we get rolling. I don’t feel like I’ve mastered the sharing of materials simultaneously for in-class and Zoom, but I figure that by the end of this I’ll be able to do AV set-ups at a semi-professional level.
What about the emotional part of seeing kids I’ve taught for two years (I looped up with them) in-person after a year apart? I think I was too busy working, and then too tired when I was done to sit with it much, but I did like hearing and seeing them again.
D Day +1: Definitely smoother and I can see things coming together. The tech part is working pretty well ( had a hiccup with sound for a bit, but it passed). Here’s what’s working:
- We’re including the Zoom class when we leave the room via iPad, which is nice.
- I’m using Jamboard to gather end of day reflections from both in-person and online students.
- Being able to remind students who have not been turning in work to finish it.
- My triad groups to mix cohorts still have some who are not participating, but on the whole they are participating and doing more.
- I’m getting my attendance in on time, which is a sign that I have enough breathing room to get administrivia done.
- Next week, I’m adding small groups for tutoring via Zoom in the afternoon.
On the whole, I’m pleased with what’s going on. I think the class had hit a doldrums in online only, and this has sort of kicked started things. My concern now is the students who are remaining in distance learning. I often ask myself, what’s in it for them, and how to give them presence and agency.