In the early 00’s, I spent time as a principal of an experimental online high school. We worked under a self-paced curriculum for the students, helping them learn to become far more honest with themselves academically than I’d seen in traditional settings.

Up until a few weeks ago, that was simply an interesting part of my career. And then, COVID-19. Schools were ordered closed in Japan, and the people I work with at the California school I visit most and I went into high gear to prep our team for a possible transition to online instruction. We switched the content in a full-day inservice that had been planned completely over to online teaching and learning.

Three days later, the leadership learned that a family member of one of our students had tested positive for the coronavirus, and we closed for a three-day “deep cleaning.” During those three days, the archdiocese closed every school for the next two weeks. At least.

Suddenly, the work I’ve been doing for the last decade to help teachers and school leaders see possibilities in technologies grabbed that online school piece of my past and said, “Buckle up!”

I put together a guide to help school leaders think through what it means to prepare a staff for a switch to online learning.

I developed a half-hour webinar called Guidance for Switching to Online Learning, and several hundred people registered. The video recording is available on this page.

This week on Wednesday and Friday, I’ll offer another free webinar. This one is titled Activities Across Grade Levels for Digital Learning, and the idea will be to give teachers from schools that have just gone online ideas and direction for how to run several activities with their students. Register and join in if time and interest allow.

As readers of my blog, you’re certainly invited to attend. I’m writing, though, to ask for your ideas on the logistical pieces that you find important to consider when doing online instruction, and I’m interested in what you know, whether you’ve been doing it for years, or like my team up in San Mateo, for one week.

While this pandemic is clearly horrible on many fronts, it is also an opportunity for many teachers to do what many in the edtech community have known for a long time:

  • Tap into the talents of colleagues near and far.
  • Figure out how online tools can be meaningful in your teaching.
  • Be a teacher who models learning and trying new things (and, ideally, takes joy in the exploration).

If we’re sharing our stories as we go, we’ll come out on the other side much stronger for it.

Find plenty of great videos, articles, tools, and resources in the March 2020 Next Vista Newsletter!

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