Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A teacher without walls

You may have heard the idea of a classroom without walls. In fact, I have worked hard through the years to break down the walls of the classroom. In some cases, that has meant stepping out with a camera, recording video, and bringing it back to my students. You can see more on this here. In other cases, that has meant stepping out on a day off from school to explore with students, such as our trip to Moaning Cavern last spring. This week, I have functioned as a teacher without walls.

In October, I took the first step. I had to be off campus (and out of the area) for a couple of days. It was "personal leave," but I managed to be involved with the students learning even on that time away by using Google Classroom. We just became a GAFE school this year and that was my first experience of working with my sub long distance and assisting in the facilitating of learning while away. Google Classroom was a fantastic tool for that.

I use Google Classroom inside and outside of the walls of the classroom and it has helped me help the students in real time. This week, I took a couple of other steps.

I have communicated with colleagues, parents, and students through email. This helped get my lesson plans where they needed to be, helped me make arrangements to work with a student on a project, and helped a student communicate with me about a change to his project.

It was a series of text messages and a quick phone call that made the real difference today. Computers were down and others were having difficulty loading the desired browser. The browser issue was one I was immediately familiar with and knew how to solve. I called the sub and walked her through the quick steps, and voila, it worked! Things were back in business.

Here I am over 2700 miles away, I had already spent the day visiting classrooms and meeting teachers and as I stood at the end of a pier overlooking the Mobile Bay, I took a moment to mentally step aside from processing through the wonderful observations of the day and to help fix an issue in the technology lab.

Google Classroom, email, phone...three tools that are a part of my Swiss Army Knife of Education that helped me function as a teacher without walls today. This after hearing about a teacher who virtually teaches a middle school class and discussing flipped classrooms with other teachers.

What tools help you remove the walls of your classroom and help you function as a teacher without walls?

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