From Blockbuster to Netflix: Educators Soar and Grow
The world was different just three months ago. As educators, we did what we always do: we stepped up and met the challenges in front of us to meet the needs of our students. It wasn’t easy and many of us were thrust way past our comfort zones. Fortunately, being out of our comfort zones also meant that we got to reimagine teaching and try out new teaching models and ways to work with our students - including ways that I’m sure many of us did not think was even possible.
This shift required many of us to learn new skills like how to engage students in virtual meetings, how to shift assessments to an online-only format, how to conduct read alouds using a screencasting tool, how to use new tech tools that you never knew existed, and the list goes on and on. You were ready and willing to do this in service of your students, especially because you understood that with so much in flux and changing, that there was one thing which could stay constant: you! You were there for your students to ensure continuity of learning. This ability of yours to learn and take action is the beauty of a growth mindset - something that we as teachers try to imbue in our students the minute they walk through our doors: that we are all possible of growth, change, and development or more simply put, that we all possess the power of human potential.
As a coach alongside your school and district leaders, we were able to support and coach you through this exploration and implementation of your “magic” space, reaching your human potential for growth. But it was you who you did the hard work of actually creating those new imagined spaces in your own classrooms.
This monumental and rapid shift that we experienced as educators is truly education’s “Netflix or Blockbuster” moment. When this school year ends and we eventually return to some version of in-person, brick and mortar teaching, we’ll need to decide if we want to go back to being Blockbuster- a one size fits all model- or instead push towards being Netflix as we continue to innovate towards a more personalized, student-centered approach.
We know that a more personalized, student-centered approach will be needed to address learning losses and gaps. We can build on the skills that you have already learned during remote teaching and apply it in the in-person context and ask yourselves these questions:
- How do we continue to have increased student collaboration?
- How can we continue to use our Learning Management Systems like Google Classroom, Seesaw, or Schoology to assign differentiated work to our students and provide real time formative assessment feedback?
- How can we use tools like screencasting to deliver mini lessons which allow students to control the pace and place of their learning?
- How can we continue to foster creativity and imagination in our students to demonstrate their understanding of content?
- How can we continue to more effectively communicate with families?
As we eventually return to our school buildings, these are the types of questions that we should reflect and continue to take action on. During the summer, take time to recharge and also reflect on the possibility of seizing this “Netflix” moment to innovate even further beyond what you have already put into your practice in the past three months.
As an educator and coach, whenever I am in moments of flux and change in my practice, I return to this quote by educator and activist Paolo Freire on how to be a pedagogical problem solver. He wrote that as educators we must practice “action and reflection [...] upon their world in order to transform it.” This cyclical reflection and action process is how we continue to shift to meet new challenges and opportunities in our teaching practices - this is what you did with the change to remote learning and this is how you will rise to the challenge when we return in the fall.
Have a great summer!