ATLIS Virtual Town Hall 10 February 2021: Rethinking School with Special Guest Homa Tavangar

This virtual town hall begins with an introduction to Homa Tavangar, keynote speaker for ATLIS 2021 Undaunted, and a discussion of the wellbeing of the educators and their profession. This exposes a natural connection to the new Big Questions Institute ebook, 9 BIG Questions Schools Must Answer to Avoid Going "Back to *Normal" (*Because "Normal" Wasn't That Great to Begin With). This led to a deeper dive into the impact of the pandemic on the personnel who have kept schools up and running and a closer look at the evolution PD for reaching overloaded teachers who shut down at the prospect of "one more thing." - SD [10-minute read; 1-hour video]

Quick Links

  • February 10, 1 pm Eastern: Save the date for our next Virtual Town Hall. Registration is required for new Virtual Town Hall participants and is free and open to all. If you have previously registered, you will automatically receive an invitation to join. 
  • Complete Virtual Town Hall Video Archive (Wakelet)

ATLIS Virtual Town Hall
February 10, 2021
Video Archive

The pandemic and the rapid embracing of online learning has caused some schools to question their most basic assumptions. What does it mean to “attend” school when families have discovered they can get the core academics online. What exactly is it that they need school for?

There is a new rhythm to how kids learn. -- Ethan Delavan, The Bush School 

A lot of assumptions were made about technology pre-COVID. The data reveals that online learning is not ideal for many learners. There are social emotional and bandwidth issues. There’s the psychology of working alone, which many teenagers have not learned how to do. The hybrid model also taxed the teaching staff. 

If the community is removed, what does school really mean, what it looks like? 

We are now asking, “What is learning? It is both transactional and relational. How do we leverage transactional learning?” And transactional versus relational feels like one of the best paradigms to explore the balance between redesigning what education is and the fatigue communities are experiencing.

Really listening, finding something positive to work at is something to look forward to. Doing meaningful work is actually energizing. 



Yet the Fatigue Is Real

The fatigue is real as technology leaders take on new roles that include counseling stakeholders who “unload” all of their troubles on the technology team. As we have learned to personalize for students, we need to use the same approach to wellness for the individuals on the technology team. 

It is important for school leadership to understand the fatigue and the burden. There is a risk of burnout and a real desire to revert back to what we had before because it is comfortable and known.  Technology leaders will need energy and spirit to move the needle.

Advice for Weary Technologists

  • Ask “Do you want sympathy or solutions?”
  • Find a balance that allows you to fight battles where you can.
  • Remember, the school will be fine without you for a day.
  • Identify what motivates you and gives you joy -- make time for that.

Exploring New Avenues and Ideas to Address PD Overload

We kicked around a variety of options:

  • Creating the best online learning pathways
  • Finding subs to take some of the “chores” from teacher to allow them time for learning
  • Pop-up PD offerings, happy hours, Pop-up “Potty” PD 
  • Testimonials, peer sharing, and “week in review” highlights of successes
The importance of creating home-grown PD that create a sense of personalization to the school
Recommended Resources
PJ Caposey, “Education Evolution,” TEDxWrigleyville, June 2020.
Wes Fryer, “Presentation Handouts,” Wiki.
Science of Well Being, Coursera. 

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