Developing technical skills
I am a primary school teacher with 14 years of professional experience. In the 2019/20 school year, after about 3.5 years at university doing research in teacher education, I returned to primary school and took over a 2nd grade class as a class teacher. In March 2020, primary schools were completely closed and children were provided with learning materials given out weekly at the window. Our school was barely equipped digitally.
So the school closure was a huge challenge. The idea that we should teach the children online seemed impossible to all of us. There was a conviction among the whole staff - including myself - "Oh dear, that can't work at all to meet with 2nd grade children (about 7-8 years old) on the computer and then also to learn together". One must not forget that the children in the 2nd grade can hardly, and I say it quite exaggeratedly, hardly handle a exercise book and a pencil. So we teachers had a lot of respect for these online video conferences. We were worried and also had great reservations about how we could technically realise such a video conference at all, also how it is when you see and hear each other, but everyone is at home.
In what ways did you respond to this dilemma/difficulty?
Fortunately, we had very smart parents who supported us a lot because we simply don't have any technical capacities or colleagues who know the technology or had the time to quickly familiarise themselves with this situation. The parents then provided us with the video conferencing platform "Big Blue Button", so that we as a school did not have to do much. That was a very smart move on the parents' part because they just put it out there for us and encouraged us: "It's easy now, just give it a try!" At first, we used it exclusively for conferences. In retrospect, I have to say that was very good, because we tried out the technology as a whole staff. At the beginning, some colleagues didn't want to meet online. But they did it anyway. We met for hours with pictures so that we could see each other. These video conferences were incredibly exhausting, but we all knew how it worked. That was good and important! In the 2nd lockdown in winter 2020/21 we were then able to use these experiences and I also taught my school class online.
What are the implications for teaching, learning and my understanding of the role of a teacher?
In the second lockdown, I arranged for students to meet regularly in small groups (7-8 children) for half an hour each via video conferencing. This took place in the late afternoon. Simply because it was important that parents were also there for support in case things didn't work out.
In the course of time, I became more and more courageous when it came to technology. At the second lockdown, for example, I created educational videos/podcasts in which I read a book to pupils to encourage motivation for reading.
Even now, although the school is open again, I continue to think about how I can use technology in a meaningful way for the didactic and pedagogical goals. This is now part of my professional self-image.
Keywords: technical skills, camera usage, well being,interaction and collaboration with colleagues, organisation and management