In a recent series of interviews, Amy Nystrand, Program Director of the Educators’ Cooperative asked members, “What has surprised you about teaching during the pandemic?” We heard both from Amber Thienel, a District Lead Numeracy Coach in MNPS, and Amy Noon, a second grade teacher at Crieve Hall Elementary, delivering the same message: We’re mastering technology with purpose!
In the spring of 2020, we were thrown into a whole new way of instructing with utilizing technology and apps in ways we never had before. While we were sorting out what translated to a virtual platform and what didn’t, we got creative. We had to go back to the basics of teaching and ask ourselves, what is the root goal of activities we do, and how we can replicate that goal, even if it isn’t the same activity? This idea has come up frequently on our nightly Collaborates Calls. It isn’t about adding in the flashiest apps at our fingertips; it’s using that technology with purpose.
This transition, not just in the frequent use of technology, but in using it with purpose, has been a necessity for all teachers, no matter their comfort. EdCo Member Amber Thienel spends her days coaching teachers, and she’s seen this day in and day out. “I’ve really been impressed at how people who think they’re not good at technology have been able to figure stuff out and do some really cool things. They’ve been able to figure out a way to do something similar. It looks different, but it still has the end goal that they’re looking for.”
This sentiment of surprise was repeated by EdCo Member Amy Noon, “I’m happy and surprised that I’ve been able to adapt to some of the technology as well as I have. I know I have the capacity to do more. There are things that I can do now that I never would have been able to do before, and I was kind of forced to do it. We had to kind of figure it out.”
We are excited to see this expertise grow, and we know it will continue well past the pandemic. Technology will no longer just be something for those pushing the envelope or for those with access to it. We expect to see it utilized in meaningful ways across grade level, school type, and years of classroom experience. We know this because we hear it firsthand. “People, that I would think if I had asked them before the pandemic, how are you on tech, they’d be like, ooh, I don’t know, I don’t know how to do that, but when I pop in to watch something, I’m like wow, look at that,” Amber shares. Whatever the situation, teachers rise to the occasion, and as we move to the other side of the pandemic, we will keep rising.
The Educators’ Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. Created for teachers by teachers in 2016, EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages. EdCo aims to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the essential agency, autonomy, and common ground all teachers share. EdCo is based in Nashville, Tennessee with a reach far beyond that physical location and potential for replication in communities throughout the nation. When educators collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.
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