Teacher Appreciation Week – From the Other Side (and about Delta Kappa Gamma)

May 6, 2021

I’ve been an educator for 14 years, doing the hard work and getting that week of treats and sweet thoughts from our PTA, administrators, students and community organizations and restaurants that come with Teacher Appreciation Week. This year, though, with being a virtual teacher, I was able to be on the other side and do something for the teachers of our community through my local teacher organization, Delta Kappa Gamma.

Our organization is a blend of teachers, coaches, administrators and retired educators, and our local chapter is no different. Which means that we have several people with the task, the time, or both of planning rewards for our teachers, and we like to sponsor a couple of schools for at least one day with breakfast or treats. 

This year, because of how my schedule worked as a virtual teacher, I was able to carve out time to volunteer at one of the schools and be on the giving side and take on some of that responsibility from our veteran members that are enjoying retirement and travel. It was nice to chat with other teachers, tell them they were appreciated, listen to their stories, and talk about our organization, for those that were interested in it.  As an educator, most of us are used to doing the talking, and I am no different, so it was nice to be in the listening seat and let others share.  If you ever get a chance to volunteer for something like this, I highly recommend it.

As for our organization, Delta Kappa Gamma, we are always looking for Professional Woman Educators (and aspiring ones in school for education, or in another field but tasked with educating and training!). We are an international organization with chapters all over the world. We support not only educators, but each chapter takes on additional focuses within their community and the education system to support. We also attend trainings, conferences and gather for meetings and social events to continue to build our bond as friends.  This organization was founded in 1929 by 12 women who wanted to help women in the profession at all levels be better prepared.

If you are an educator, in the classroom or even retired, and interested in learning more, go to the organization’s website at https://www.dkg.org/ . You can click on ABOUT US to find a local chapter to visit and learn more before committing to join, or if you are local, reach out to me and I will help you with our chapter or another within our District.  We would love to have you!

Simplify your E-learning Classroom Experience

Sonya Barnes                     3/26/2020

With the current situation, many educators are being forced into e-learning platforms, whether it is wanted or not.  It can be a challenging endeavor to take on, especially with the rapid transition to get there and finish up the school year.  I started as virtual teacher in August and have gained a few insights and helpful tools from colleagues and experience, as well as listened to parents of my own students and friends and realized that it is an overwhelming place to be.  I created a video using Zoom to navigate you through some features in Google using voice, classrooms, slides, docs and forms, as well as a few things to make life easier such as tracking logs and tiny URLs for sharing sources.  Check out this link for the tutorial—and forgive the poor quality, it was via Zoom on a laptop camera, not a professional camera or studio J  Below is a brief description of each of the features I cover in the video.

Zoom link to e-learning using Google tools

Zoom

I don’t go into a lot of detail about using Zoom, but I am recording in it!  You can use it for live interaction or prerecord lessons.  I do suggest using presets for live interactions to lock out video, audio, chat, and annotation features without you granting permission and I would also let the students know that you can boot them from the lesson and not let them back in, then set up an alternative option with parents, if needed.

User-friendly Homepage

My school offers a website with the ability to add links and embed codes, but Google Classrooms is a pretty basic alternative that can meet most needs. However, you can create a customizable image using Google Slides that includes a photo, your contact info, a link to resources, office hours—anything you want or think your students may need.

Google Voice

This free feature allows you to have a phone number for work use, set do not disturb hours, send texts, make calls, have a voicemail greeting and even has an app so you can use it via your phone if you don’t want to use your computer.  I use it daily and love it.

Teacher contact info

Having this in your display just makes life easier for students and parents. Include your email, phone number, working hours, open office hours in Zoom for lessons or tutoring, or a link to resources (using a google doc you share the link of and then convert to something easy using tinyurl.com) The easier to find, the higher the likelihood of successful student engagement.

Gathering student contact info

Using a Google Form, you can gather updated contact information from your students and parents, then view it in a spreadsheet for easy sorting.

Tracking Contacts

Some schools may require this, but even if they don’t, this helpful tool can be created in Google Sheets and used to track calls, texts, emails, etc.

Netiquette training for kids

If your kids aren’t used to online learning, they may need to be shown the rules. BrainPOP has a great one that is a 5-minute video and includes a quiz that they can then screenshot their score and submit to you. This way, you can at least know you showed them the right way. I am sure there are others, but BrainPOP has never let me down with their resources before.  Here’s the link: https://www.brainpop.com/technology/digitalcitizenship/digitaletiquette/

Calendar app through setmore.com

I have tried lots of apps, including Google Calendar, which is great, but I love this one since I can share a URL and my kids can book an appointment with me without a lot of back and forth.  With the app downloaded, it even sends reminders of appointments to my phone, in  case I am away from my computer.  If you are using it solo, it is free indefinitely, not just for a trial period.  I’ve used it for a week now and love it.  I tried Calendly before and it works well, but this one just has a few features I love that make it more of what I was looking for.

I am sure there are so many more tech savvy ways of doing this, but for the short term, this will take you less than an hour to set up a streamlined digital classroom that will run efficiently, whether you use it until we are back in classrooms, or you continue to use it as a tool along with being in brick and mortar.

If you have questions, please join our community on Facebook in the Group Addicted to Teaching or follow me on Twitter at AddictedtoTeac1.

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