Snow days bring unparalleled joy to students [and educators]. Anticipating and finally hearing the cancellation of school on the news, and now on social media, is almost a childhood entitlement.
For most educators, this is welcome news, borderline excitement. I’m convinced that the inner child in all educators turns a couple of cartwheels at the announcement. Let’s face it – we welcome a break. The appeal of a late start or the ‘challenge’ of a day of sledding is too great to not be happy about. The only drawback to snow days for educators and students is the possibility of having to make up the instructional day.
Work from Home – The Innovation
As such, our visionary superintendent, Dr Lynn Moody @lynn_moody and her administrative team, unveiled a plan to district principals that will allow teachers to work from home on inclement weather days. This only applies to inclement weather days wherein teachers have an optional workday. Traditionally on these days, teachers would have to come to school to work or be take a leave day. Rowan-Salisbury Schools rolled out the ‘Work from Home’ plan.
The foundation for this is our technology rich platform and our commitment to growing the skills of our educators. We are a 1:1 district with iPads and MacBooks supplied to educators and student in our 3rd year of deployment. Added to this has been an intense focus on next-level professional development centered around alternative teaching and learning strategies, differentiated collaborative efforts and our various technology capabilities. With the resources and training in place, along with the monitoring plan our teachers enjoyed their first work from home day this past week.
Work from Home at West Rowan Middle
Social media posts show various success stories from district level educators. One of my favorite shares was from our district’s Teacher of the Year [and now NC Regional Teacher of the Year] Anthony Johnson turning his living room into his workspace for the day. [This is what teachers do on a ‘day off’]
In a nutshell, our teachers loved this day and it was very productive. Using the resources provided, they did a great job of cataloguing their work and collaboration with each. Our advance talk and prep about what to do those days paid off and our ongoing communication throughout using social media and tools like Remind really helped everyone stay connected and on the same page. Teachers planned, made contact with parents and students, researched, ordered materials and too many other things to name.
A Virtual Administrator
I loved these days.
Using our digital and technological resources, I had some very rich experiences with my administrative and leadership team:
- Midyear conferences with teachers using GoogleHangouts – We are a GAFE district. Hangouts proved to be a staple for my Monday and Tuesday. I got the idea for modifying our midyear conferences from two forward thinking colleagues [shout out to @bcrawford76 and@TonyaBG927]. We have teachers lead talks/presentation to the admin team on a number of topics. Collaborating through GHO allowed us to see and hear the multiple participants from their home and the teacher to take over the presentation screen and share important information. GREAT experience!
- Project Planning – Using GHO, the administrators and counselors had an in depth talk about an upcoming project tied to our core values. Our Compassion Project Showcase will be a huge event, bringing in community at large to see how imaginative and hard working our students are. This is an all hands on deck activity. We were fortunate to have all administrators and counselors on the video call. One person was late to join to but, thanks to the GHO chat feature, we didn’t miss a beat;
- Teacher led demo on district resource – Two separate unrelated conversations a digital tool provided to math teachers, @MathSpace, prompted me to call a virtual math department to share some tips and tricks and FAQs on this resource. GHO was once again, our sharing tool. Our in house expert, Mrs Nussman, drove the conversation and shared key program features with all administrators. We got very smart on what to look for when teachers are using MathSpace in the classroom, student actions and program capabilities. Another great virtual experience.
This was an invaluable experience for teachers. We say that we are preparing students for their careers and future education and part of that is collaboration with the strong possibility of virtual tools. This was a ‘get you hands dirty’ activity – experiencing high level work activities with digital tools. I can’t state enough that we cannot have enough talks with teachers about changing mindsets. Shifting the thought of what is possible and real is a big part of what allowed us to have these experiences.
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