“Beep-beep-beep,” the insistent tones of my alarm wake me far too early. My desire to sleep in wars with my awareness that I have many items waiting for me on my daily to-do list. Reluctantly, I reach out for my phone and turn off the alarm. Before I leave the cozy embrace of my warm blankets, I start my day with what has become my favorite ritual habit, “Wordle.”
After taking a few moments and waking my brain up, I shift into “awake” mode. I make my coffee, let my fuzzy old dog out to take care of business, and start to get ready. While we are eating breakfast, I grab my phone again and send quick greetings and check-in texts to my boyfriend and other loved ones. I like for them to wake up and see a message from me asking about their days and letting them know I am thinking about them. It is more than just a hello; I ask about events that I know are happening in their lives. If they have time, we exchange a few updates. Otherwise, I log into my school texting app and check for messages from students. Sometimes I send out a cheerful greeting to let them know that I am looking forward to seeing them today. I check my twitter feed and catch up on some tweets or send one out if I scroll across an interesting read that I like or want to re-tweet.
Looking up at the clock, I see that it is time to go. I put the phone away and grab my multiple computer bags, checking for all my cords and other necessary tools for getting online once I get to school. It’s a pleasant 30-minute drive with the sun rising over the horizon earlier and earlier each day. I often vary between enjoying the silence or listening to an audio book or podcast. It really depends on what I feel in the mood for that day.
Getting to the school, I greet everyone and set up my WebEx meetings for the week. Every class has remote students that join me and my face-to-face students. I place my headset on, get my Jabra ready, and prepare to head into another exciting day of learning. My Smartboard and headset have become my friendly companions lapping along beside my heels and following my instructions. They are tools that make my day easier to navigate.
For all that I do online each day, I am conscious of my boundaries and respect for student’s boundaries.
Dylan shared an article from Van Streun who cited Nias (1999) in discussing the six components of a culture of care. I strive to be over-conscientious when considering my student’s rights to their digital identity. To this end, I do tend to keep what they create within an LMS space. They have made blogposts and participated in discussion forums, but those stay within the classroom. Any items or images that I do share have been discussed with the students, and I take care when sharing faces, using names, or posting other student-created content.
Throughout the day, we all participate in discussions, play Quizziz or Kahoots, read/watch CK-12 content, and take part in hands-on learning. It can be a challenge to ensure that my remote students are active participants and not just passive viewers. This is something I am really working on. Some of them are slower to share ideas, so I am trying to find ways to develop more engagement. In Canadian Studies, the conversations around current news and fake news have been vibrant (see my past blog for more details.) I am starting to realize how often I have in the past not done nearly enough fact-checking for content that I have passed along! Like my students, I am learning and developing stronger skills at fact-checking for truth and biases. It’s like a set of muscles that we all need to develop and strengthen. The more that we use them the better we will be at doing these “sets.”
Last week, my Biology 30 class participated in synchronous experiments. We did these side-by-side and talked about what we were doing and seeing. It was a fantastic shared experience. After I edited and cropped photos, I shared a couple of these on Twitter. This was received well with likes and comments, but I was also reminded that everything I do as a teacher is under observation. I received a positive comment from the Vice President of Academics and a “like” from the Program Head. I had known that they follow me on Twitter, but it had become “out of sight, out of mind.” I am glad that my personal philosophy about social media has always been to only say and act in ways that I normally would in person!
At lunch, I take a few minutes and make a video for my students in Chemistry class who are struggling with some of the concepts about electrons. I use my SmartNotebook and WebEx record myself before putting this on Youtube and share it on Brightspace LMS.
At the end of my school day, I log off my computer, pack up, and head home. It’s time to make supper and play with my pets. I will probably call my family, then talk with my friends. I might make some time to play video games with my boyfriend. (Lol! Might is an understatement. We usually play on the PS4 in a private chat each night.) Before bed, I will read on my Kindle or listen to some music on Spotify.
At the end of it all of this, I wonder how typical my day is compared to some other people’s days. I am a physically active person who does unplug and plays boardgames, spends time with friends, goes dancing, skiing, hiking, or kayaking, and enjoys those times.
I am also a digital person who spends much of her days online. I don’t think I can define my identity in one box. My personal, professional, and digital lives are more blended and a part of who I am versus separate aspects. I feel balanced and aware that my personal health is my focus. When I take care of this, then I can put my best self back into my relationships with others, both online and in-person.
I love your positive routine in the morning! Usually we hear not to go on our phones first thing, but I like that you message loved ones (you do send great morning texts that I don’t answer until I’m fully functional in the afternoon). You use your devices to connect to your students throughout the day and keep them engaged in a positive way as well! I relate to feeling like there are different ways to define ourselves. It sounds like you have a great balance!
Aww, thanks!! Yes, I frequently text with my students and send them random encouraging messages too. It is important that not all of my texts are work and attendance related.
Finding that balance between remote and in person teaching sounds like a challenge, but as I get to know you more and more this semester through your blog and class it seems like you work hard to use tech efficiently to get everyone engaged! I struggled with engaging students during remote learning and I wish I had taken this class a few years ago to help with that!
Thank you! There are still struggles, but this class is helping to prompt ideas on ways to encourage more interaction.
I just like the flow of your blogs… My day begins with scrolling and reading news/articles on the phone.. then like you mentioned I also connect with my loved ones… especially my mom as she lives far far away from me…
Your post made me realize that you use digital tools and at the same time you are able to maintain a balance between both scenarios. Great post Patricia!
Thank you! When Covid first hit, my friends and I would meet virtually for our coffee chats. We would always have fun. Seeing their faces really brings life to a conversation. As an expansion to that, some of the friends that I have made in class here are ones that I have never met in person. But, we are close and supportive for each other.
I think you have struck a nice balance with your use of technology during the day, Patricia. When you do use devices, you are using them in a positive way to work, to stretch your brain, or to keep in touch with loved ones. Screen time is often thought of in a negative light, but I think when we are using screens in a positive or productive way (and find a balance between devices and ‘real life’), it need not be viewed as such a negative thing.
It is definitely a balancing act both at home and in the classroom. By encouraging my students to get up and move around during interactions, I see vibrancy injected into the online space as well.
It sounds like you are balancing all the juggling you have to do in a day. I bet balancing online and in-person learning can be a challenge, but I bet it is very helpful for many of your students. I also appreciate how you are using technology meaningfully in your classroom with your students. I also like to hear how different levels of education use and implement technology. Very interesting.
Thank you! I think that the ways that I am using technology can be modified for use for younger grades as well. There have been some amazing examples among our classmates and from what I have observed online. I find that I am always learning from others and can apply that knowledge to my own classroom in unique ways.