Melanie Hartman, CTE Teacher at Paredes Middle School. I teach Animation, Photography, and Graphic Design. Twitter: @HartmanParedes Instagram: @mrshartmancte
Wow, this has been a very challenging year to say the least. I thought I was an expert at teaching with technology. I was in the inaugural group of Leadership Pathways Transformative Technology and I started my pathway in 2017. As we were thrown into distance learning last year after Spring Break I felt like I was ahead of the curve having completed my pathway in May of 2019. I have been using Blend as a CIC since 2017. I was in the initial training the district provided. I have taught with 1:1 technology since 2005 at the middle school and elementary levels. I felt like I knew what I was doing in terms of effectively teaching students while using technology. Boy, was I wrong. Using technology 1:1 inside a classroom is a totally different situation compared to teaching 100% distance learners or even 85% distance learners and 15% face-to-face students. I always knew that teachers were needed to facilitate learning but I did not realize how much teachers do on a daily basis to help students succeed. The majority of my students this year are struggling. I teach Animation, Photography, and Graphic Design. All of these classes are very hands on and artistic. In normal years, my students are on the computer the majority of the class period and I am able to direct teach to them all at the same time. I walk around and help students who are struggling, lost, or having technical difficulties. This year most of my students are accessing class via their Chromebooks and I am not able to see most of the issues they are having on their computers. I use GoGuardian to look at students’ work but some problems and popup screens do not show up. It is difficult to to troubleshoot a computer you cannot see. It is very frustrating as a teacher to not be able to see if students are engaged or following along and the students are frustrated as well. Teachers can look at students in class and tell if they “get it” or not. When students are just a thumbnail picture on a screen, teachers don’t have the usual clues to know if they are grasping the material. I feel like I have worked so hard to make amazing lessons this year in Blend. I have tried to get students engaged in the curriculum. I have helped other teachers that needed extra support. I have tried so hard this year and I feel like I am not teaching my students enough.
I was recognized as Teacher of the Year at Paredes Middle School so I feel confident that my efforts are appreciated. Being recognized helped me realize that even though I am struggling I am able to be effective even in these difficult times. If you are feeling the same way as I am, take comfort in knowing that even those of us that are “experts” in this are struggling.