As the fall semester approaches, K-12 schools have begun to announce their tentative plans for back to school in August while we are still experiencing a global pandemic. Brainstorming and planning for this fall semester began when COVID-19 sent schools into a state of remote learning, but the uncertainty of how the virus will continue to spread has left educators unable to fully commit to one plan of action.

While continuing to be mindful of the current state of the pandemic, Texas schools are taking the necessary precautions while beginning to implement their plans for back to school in August. On the Tackling Tech Podcast, we were able to discuss with former educator and Director of Professional Development at TCEA in Texas, Miguel Guhlin (@mguhlin), suggestions for K-12 educators going back to school during this pandemic.

Here is some insight from Miguel on how Texas schools are planning to go back to school in August.

Plans for Back to School in August

As the uncertainty of how COVID-19 will continue, the majority of K-12 schools created multiple plans based on different scenarios for back to school in August. Miguel gave us some insight into a plan many Texas schools have created to minimize the number of students and faculty in the school building at one time.

One plan Texas schools are implementing when going back to school in August focuses on teachers and students only spending time in the classroom in either the morning or afternoon. Whichever portion of the day teachers and students do not spend in the classroom, learning will be done remotely using technology. This plan is created on the basis of blended learning, a progressive learning style that utilizes face to face, and technology learning time. 

As an educator himself, Miguel also has opinions on how to best implement learning plans when going back to school in August. He believes it is important to use asynchronous materials for course work as current plans could be changed at any given time. By using asynchronous materials, the course work can be available to students at all times. He cautions however that asynchronous communication works better for older students as they manage their time better. For younger students, he advises to lay out assignments using both asynchronous and synchronous communication.

Technology Tools to Implement for Back to School in August

Many Texas schools plan to use technology to aid in learning when going back to school in August, so we wanted to give you some insight into our favorite EdTech tools to use when going back to school in August.

  • Flipgrid: It is crucial to continue to communicate with students when implementing a blended or remote learning plan. Flip Grid is a platform that allows both students and teachers to create videos to upload. It allows for effective communication and collaboration over a lesson.
  • Learning Management System: A LMS could arguably be the most important tool for teachers. A LMS allows teachers to organize, publish, and assign content so students have easy access to their school work. It is also a great tool for communicating effective feedback to students. 
  • Dyknow: Classroom management can be a challenge when using technology in the classroom. Dyknow is a classroom management software that allows teachers to monitor student devices to ensure they are on the right track. Even more, it can be used as a communication tool by messaging students and can assess student progress through pushing out polls.

Resources for Back to School in August

When implementing technology in your classroom, it is important to know your resources for when you need assistance. Miguel wants to remind teachers that tech coaches in their school are there for their assistance during whatever learning environment is being implemented. A tech coach’s role is to ensure teachers are comfortable with using technology and know the tools they have available for their use in the classroom. 

TCEA in Texas has also created online presentations and courses to help teachers during this time of uncertainty. There are courses that offer great advice on topics as broad as remote learning and as specific as utilizing your LMS to its full capabilities. Don’t miss an opportunity to check out these presentations and courses to better prepare for going back to school in August.

Listen to full conversation with Miguel Guhlin

On this episode of Tackling Tech Podcast, powered by Dyknow, Brett McGrath talks with Miguel Guhlin, Director of Professional Development at TCEA in Texas. Miguel explains some of the many challenges facing Texas school districts this year. Miguel sees this emergency shift to remote learning as an opportunity for educators to find their voice and embrace technology. In this challenging time, everyone needs to stick together, adapt, and move forward together.

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