#WordsofWisdomWednesday: Week Four

In our fourth installment of #WordsofWisdomWednesday, we hear from a math teacher at Compadre Academy and a social studies teacher at Corona del Sol.  

Jack Vermeer teaches math and reflected on his approach to preparing for the opening of school virtually; “I was on a pendulum swinging between serious concerns about how I would be able to manage both the preparation and delivery of virtual learning, some confidence that prior work in Schoology was ready for students, and an excitement to use this opportunity to refine what my expectations were for students and how I could provide more innovating learning opportunities.” Tom Bristol teaches social studies. He says he felt anxious elaborating, “it was an anxiousness that was different than the normal type that teachers get at the start of a school year. This was harder to shake because of the unknown.”

Tom managed that feeling of anxiousness by “Taking time to breathe and laugh each day. This helped with the perspective needed. I always try to remind myself that I can only do my best. Working with colleagues who are so dedicated helped to reassure me that whatever challenges we face, we will tackle them together. Not everything will go perfect and that is okay because together we will fix what doesn't work and learn from it to keep moving forward.” Jack had a similar philosophy of working collectively.  He shared, “We spent a lot of time in dialogue beginning last year discussing how we wanted to refine grading practices, assessment practices, and independent practice. We continued these discussions during quarter 4, and the work we had started preparing was a strong foundation for us. The major work was figuring out how we wanted to convert components to virtual learning, how we would craft different formative assessments. The team has been amazing and really rowed together to navigate the opening despite the rapidly shifting tides.”

Both Tom and Jack valued the opportunities to work with their colleagues, finding inspiration in the collaboration of working through the challenges they would face. The two teachers also recognized opportunities to refine their own practice and keep things in perspective. As Jack shared, “We have focused on identifying which components in our instruction that we really need to re-create or reinforce using technology and made that the initial focus.  The first two weeks, different teachers explored different tech options and then shared out what was working so that we could collect best practices as a department and implement what fits our students' needs.  We've focused on creating discussions and peer-to-peer interactions along with providing students with self-assessment and reflection opportunities so that they understand how to know when they have learned a concept and when they need to ask questions or join intervention opportunities.”  Tom adds, “We had countless hours of preparation: discussing content, learning new ways to use existing resources, learning new resources, morphing existing ideas into new ones that could work with virtual teaching. We are resilient and it shows. We know our content and we know the lessons and skills we want to teach our students, we worked constantly (and still are) to find new ways to help students learn.”

To hear more of their words of wisdom, click the video links below:

Jack Vermeer
Tom Bristol