So, in March 2020, I was standing on a stage with a microphone in hand teaching a ballroom full of school administrators in New Hampshire about how to create more inclusive schools. When we took a break for lunch, several people came up and apologized for being distracted but they were all getting notices that their schools were shutting down due to COVID-19. I cancelled the end of the presentation and quickly drove back home to NY to be with my family. That was my last in-person presentation of the year… and the last time I wore a blazer;-)
My team at Inclusive Schooling was incredible at making the quick shift to all on-line teaching. I had a lot of on-line teaching experience and by teaming up with the fabulous Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak who had even more…we shifted the entire Summer Leadership Institute to on-line and still kept the engagement high, music pumping, and even kept the dance breaks.
We offered a virtual paraprofessional course that had over 700 who registered from Alaska to Australia. We offered a wildly successful and engaging co-teaching course complete with several costume changes with my co-author Dr. Paula Kluth. Through all of these on-line events we learned so many things about keeping distance learning engaging and inclusive for all learners.
I do not miss airplanes, hotel rooms or driving long distances. I do not really miss anything about traveling. I might even say at Inclusive Schooling we have been enjoying the challenge of going completely virtual and totally enjoying being blazer-free. I would also say it has not been easy, or always fun or cheap… but it has helped us to expand our reach, hone new talents and create a new kind of inclusive community.
Here are a few of the most important things we have learned…
- The chat feature can be used continuously for increasing learner engagement (e.g., sharing, summarizing, asking questions, skill building, posting ideas, sharing love, and supporting other learners)
- It is very easy to incorporate multiple means of expression (e.g., drawing, sculpting, typing, sharing, yelling or whispering – while on mute)
- You can incorporate tons of movement into learning (e.g., speed scavenger hunts, that’s me, jump ups, popcorn learning)
- It is possible to enhance learning by creating a special instructional space complete with blankets, pets, snacks, colorful markers, and custom zoom backgrounds
- Use your breakout zoom rooms creatively: Room1- I understand and am ready to move on; Room 2 – I need to see it one more time; Room 3 – I need to review it again from the start
- We are in awe of educators who are doing so beautifully with even young students!!
Need more ways to give your on-line offerings a makeover? Here are 50+ ways!
Right now, many things in the world are a complete SH%@ show, but your on-line teaching does not have to be.
We are here for you! We cannot wait to reveal what we are offering this fall (virtually of course). Stay tuned!
Here’s one sneak peek…it’s PD for PD providers!
With warm inclusive wishes!
Julie, Kristie and the Entire Inclusive Schooling Team