Finding time for all the things

In collaboration with Invzbl, all opinions are my own

As educators look back over the past couple of school years, the way that we teach and the activities that we do in our classrooms have changed a lot. When schools closed in March of 2020 and we shifted to fully virtual learning, teachers had to adapt quickly. They had to shift away from typical classroom procedures and completely rethink how to prepare for class with new tasks that had not been imagined before. 

There were uncertainties in many aspects of teaching. More than just focusing on the lesson of the day, teachers had to think about how to structure the lesson to account for students logging in and interacting in the virtual space. It took effort and caused frustration to figure out how to best manage time, especially if students didn’t have access to Wi-Fi or reliable, working devices. We had to work through those challenges, always having a backup plan in place in the event of a technology glitch. 

We had to ensure that all students were able to participate in learning, and if students did not have access, we had to find ways to provide access and resources to our students and their families. Even though we are back in our classrooms again and many of these challenges have diminished, there are still issues when it comes to devices and the learning spaces for our students. One is making sure that our students have a safe and clean learning environment. We must be even more mindful of cleaning/disinfecting their devices, making sure that the devices are working for our students, and providing a safe/sanitized space for students to learn.

When it comes to the use of technology in our schools, there will likely always be challenges. Whether certain websites cannot be accessed because of school network restrictions, students are without a device because of repairs, or we lose time because of cleaning procedures that are ineffective, we are responsible for our students’ learning environment. Added to this frustration are concerns about providing a sanitized learning environment for our students and making sure that our class procedures include cleaning desks and devices and doing so within the class period. We know the importance of this however we can lose valuable class time due to technology issues we experience and the extra time it takes to complete these additional but essential tasks which promote the safety of our students.

Balancing our routines

When we made the shifts to virtual learning, I was surprised and I am sure that a lot of educators were also surprised at how much they can accomplish within each class period. When we’re together in the same physical space, there is a flow to what we do. We have our instructional strategies, the tasks, and classroom routines that we implement from the beginning of the year, that we follow to make sure everything flows as best as it can. Of course, we can’t always account for unforeseen circumstances but having a plan in place that we know and that students know definitely helps. Consistency and reliability are key. 

In virtual learning, we had new challenges. When it came to logging into class, not all students had a device that worked or reliable service. Now that we are back in our classrooms, we have to be mindful of the space where students are learning and if students are sharing devices, have an efficient plan for how we clean the devices so that we’re not taking away too much time from the learning process.

Image via Shutterstock

Adapting to the new “typical day”

In my class, on most days students use a device, whether their phone or school laptop, to check what I have posted on our Microsoft Teams page, or to access an online activity. Sometimes I create an interactive lesson or use one of the game-based learning tools to engage students with the content. While not all students may have their own devices, schools, and some classrooms have a set of devices on hand for students to use. Since we may be relying on these devices and sharing them between students and classes, it’s important that we have efficient and effective cleaning procedures in place. When we have the right tools with a consistent procedure, it will help to ease the minds of teachers and students knowing that they have clean and working devices. 

Many teachers may take a few minutes at the start of class to distribute devices and then to collect and clean them before class ends. Because of this, we end up losing potentially between 5 and 7 minutes of valuable class time. Think about how different it would be if students come into the class and pick up a clean and working device ready for use during class. As they leave the classroom, students place the device back into a cabinet where it will be sanitized for the next group of students that come in. During that 3 to 5 minutes between groups of students as classes change, the next group of students would enter and grab a device, and proceed as the prior class did. A process like this can continue throughout the day, saving valuable minutes for more important things like connecting with students and instruction. There would be less worry about the time needed to clean each individual device. And in the event that a device needs repair or further sanitation, INVZBL Protect Express powered by FedEx can make that happen and have devices back in the hands of students in very little time. It provides schools, teachers, and students with a reliable service that enables everyone to know exactly where the device is in the repair process and when it will be back for student use.

Image via Shutterstock

In many schools, devices need to be repaired on a regular basis and depending on the school, this can take a week or more. In some instances, students and teachers are left wondering when the device will be returned and students may be left without access to the right tools that will enable them to fully participate in class when technology is needed. 

It’s also important since we may or may not be required to wear masks in our schools, that we have clean air and recognize the options that exist for providing this for our students in our schools. Access to clean air and a process for disinfection will help to ease the worry that can come with what we have experienced and will enable teachers and students to focus more on the learning in the classroom, knowing that they are protected.

Being able to teach and learn in a classroom that has access to clean air, where students have access to reliable and sanitized devices will improve the education experience for all.

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