Monday, January 12, 2015

Virtual Me

Last night was one of those nights where it is difficult being both a teacher and a mom.  My daughter didn't have an appetite at dinner due to an upset tummy. I knew this was a real ailment since we were having her favorite, my husband's chicken parm, for dinner. She would never pass that up.  So as we got ready for bed, we prepared too for the chance of vomiting (sorry I can't think of a euphemism for that).

After attempting to get some sleep, she soon called me back upstairs and the inevitable happened. As I cleaned her up, threw her bedding in the washing machine (I let me husband take care of the actual mess), I mentally began to prepare for the fact that I wouldn't be in school the next day. This is where being a teacher and a parent is challenging. On the days that my husband stays home with one of our sick daughters, he simply sends an email and that is that. For a teacher though, not only do I email, I have to request a substitute (hopefully one is available...this is a growing problem these days), and write lesson plans so that classes can happen in my absence.

Simply taking a day off for a teacher is never simple. I find it is more work than actually being there. So as I began to plan for what I would type in my substitute lesson plan, I was concerned about the wrench that my absence would throw into the work that my students are in the midst of. They are working on a group project in order to plan, shoot and edit a public service announcement video or PSA. In order for this process to go smoothly, I have learned in doing this unit for the past several years that my feedback is crucial in order for the kids to produce a successful video. As they brainstorm a topic, slogan, scenario and the voiceover, I am there checking in and approving their ideas along the way. This year we were off to a great start...barring a few two-hour delays that had cut our time together short last week.

Luckily since I have my Chromebook cart, I initially started to think of how we could use email to conference on ideas during class. But the thought of my students having to type out their ideas, and then me typing my feedback in response seemed like it would take too long.  I then thought about how the kids could call me at home via my classroom phone so we could talk instead of type. That thought, though, lead to an even better one. Google Hangout. I realized we had the power to have a video chat where we could both see each other. I immediately texted my teammate who co-teaches with me during class to see if we could make it work. As usual my colleagues were supportive and set up a Chromebook where the kids could step up during class to run their ideas by me.

Class went extremely well. Not only did I get to see how class went, but I was able to talk to each group several times.

Some groups even carried "me" into the hallway to conference so we didn't have to talk over the din of the other group conversations happening.

It was also nice to see my students working diligently.This is what I truly love about technology. It allows for so many great learning opportunities.  And for once, not being at school wasn't so stressful.

PS:  My daughter is feeling much better!