Wow. There is no tired like end of the first week tired. WHEW! It flew by and was such a busy time, I rarely had time to sit down and even realize how tired I was until Friday afternoon. I came home and started to think about the incredible work we’d done in just 4 days and was absolutely overwhelmed with emotion.
We have been in school for 4 days. We’ve been distributing laptops, with a goal of 70% of our students having computers by the first day. We blew that away – we had 79.5% of our students pick up their device before day 1. By the end of the week, we have about 100 students without devices yet.
How did this happen? The HARD work our teachers are doing is paying off immensely. Student after student that came in to pick up a laptop said “we need this for my classes.” There was a reason. That’s what made the difference. Teachers are changing the work, students are DOING the work in their classes.
One senior came to me on Wednesday and told me he was coming to get his laptop. His little brother had already gotten his device and I asked him why he didn’t get his then (he drove him in to school to get it!) His answer was priceless. He told me he was a senior, didn’t think he’d need it since he wasn’t taking honors classes. But found out quickly that all his teachers expected him to have it and he wasn’t able to do the work he needed to do. YES!
One teacher changed his first unit co
mpletely. He usually copies a packet of information, lectures and then the students take a multiple choice test for unit 1. He added a class building activity to introduce his students to the content. Then the students divided into teams, chose topics and started projects. They CHOOSE the type of project they complete (options include a video, poster or bulletin board, presentation, or other), what resources they use, and then present to the class after 1.5 periods of work. The whole class learns from these projects and evaluates their peers before taking a test on the unit. On day 1 he had a few students without devices, by the end of the week, they all picked them up because there was a reason.
Another teacher shared with me that she started her self-contained Special Education English class day 1 with a BreakoutEDU Digital Breakout. Students wanted to give up, but they encouraged each other to keep going AND THEY BROKE OUT. Afterwards, in the debrief, they identified lots of skills they practiced while “playing this game” – talking with each other, thinking, not giving up when things are hard, reading carefully and more.
Another teacher wrote to me on day 2, saying that many of her students in another self contained class hadn’t gotten their computers. She wanted to set up a time to bring her whole class to pick up their laptops because they hadn’t done it themselves in the times we advertised. I told her to collect their forms during her next class and we would make it happen. She wrote back to me after that day and said her kids had all gotten their laptops before she had a
chance to collect forms…because they needed them for their classes.
It doesn’t seem to matter where in the building we visited – students were working on REAL assignments and engaged right away. Students were writing reflections, engaging with classmates, getting real time feedback (no more days before you hear how you did on a student assignment). Teachers were trying new things, taking risks and learning alongside their students.
It has been hard – between 2 hours of distribution every day during all lunches and answering questions for students and teachers before and after school and between classes, we’ve barely had time to think about what’s next. But the reason we are doing this is so important. Our kids will be prepared for life because they are learning the skills and tools they need to continue to LEARN in everything they do.
I’m so proud of our teachers – taking a leap, trying, changing is HARD
and they have jumped in with both feet! We’ve asked them to trust us and really go all in…and they have! This is both the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the most rewarding. I’m so happy to support this change as we move forward.