Greetings TEC21 community!
God’s grace and peace be with all of you.
COVID-19, as we all know, is impacting the U.S. in many ways and is leading to school closings in some states. In fact, a few in Nebraska have made the decision to shift to eLearning for the next two weeks. If the spread of this virus plays out similarly in the states as it has in other parts of the world, then it is possible that two weeks could evolve into more by the time it’s all said and done. In addressing this situation, I pray we can all keep calm and carry on placing our trust in God alone knowing we are in His hands.
At this time, teachers everywhere are asking themselves, “How is COVID-19 going to impact my teaching and students’ learning should our school shift to eLearning?” The facilitators are asking the same question, but additionally we’re asking “How is COVID-19 going to impact our upcoming workshops?” As each of us ready ourselves to shift from teaching our students in the traditional setting to an eLearning environment should we need to, we want you to know that the TEC21 Facilitators are prepared to not skip a beat and are ready to provide you with the relevant learning and support you’ve come to know. We are poised to successfully deliver a synchronous eLearning experience because of the various digital tools we have in place–WordPress (for the delivery of our agendas), TEC21 Educators Group on Facebook (for teachers to ask questions and/or give support), and Blackboard Collaborate (for our cohorts to connect with each other via video-conferencing).
George Couros, of The Innovator’s Mindset, writes, “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” In light of that spirit, the TEC21 Facilitators are prepared to conduct their next workshops either face-to-face, virtually, or a combination of both depending on the regional situation. It’s really amazing what technology can afford us to do and what a blessing it is that we can support each other during this situation. In fact, we look forward to the opportunities this challenge presents us:
- The opportunity for us to use Blackboard Collaborate to model a video-conferencing platform and to give you the opportunity to explore other platforms (e.g. Zoom) so you can CONNECT with your students virtually
- The opportunity for us to equip and support each other, to SHARE best practices, and to INSPIRE each other regarding remote learning (e.g. teaching and learning strategies, tools and resources for content delivery and learning/assessment activities, “how to’s”, and troubleshooting, communication strategies with parents and students, etc.)
- The opportunity for you to GROW and experience online learning so you can have empathy for your students
- The opportunity for us as a community to pray together and to connect, equip, encourage, and SUPPORT each other
What happens next? We move forward as usual and adjust as needed.
- Your Facilitator will send their usual Pre-workshop email the week before your next gathering
- Your cohort will meet as scheduled (Your facilitator will announce in their pre-workshop email whether you will meet face-to-face, virtually, or a combination of both as this will be dependent on your respective region’s circumstances.)
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and for supporting us in our plan as we put our best foot forward in this fluid and unprecedented matter. We also want to you know that we understand that your number one priority at this time is your personal and community’s health and safety and your students’ learning. This is uncharted waters for many of us, so if making this shift to eLearning ends up placing demands on you that impede your ability to participate in the upcoming sessions either face-to-face or virtually, we will understand. Having said that, however, I believe there’s no better time to have a network of support from friends and colleagues so we hope you’ll be able to join us one way or the other!
Know that I am praying for Lutheran school leadership daily that God will give you strength and peace through these and more of the challenges we face in the teaching ministry. God is good. May His word be a blessing to you as it says in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”
Serving Him with you,