I along with many educators across the globe have been trying to figure out how to move forward in this pandemic. Our country is broken, and I am disheartened to hear and see all the fighting over whether we wear masks and if schools should reopen for face-to-face instruction. Like a family in turmoil, educators are in the middle. However, educators are not the parents in this situation. They are having to listen to all the fighting between school leaders, parents and politicians and “patiently wait” to be told what to do next. So, what’s a teacher to do? Start creating plan B (C, D, and E). They are also finding ways to stay inspired, creative and think critically through how to best educate students regardless of where the learning takes place. 

This summer, many educators have started exploring different tools and thinking through how each may enhance their classroom. However, I’m disheartened that some people are criticizing teachers over WHAT tools they are exploring, collaborating and using to create lessons. Educators are familiar with others dictating what content to teach, but now they are being criticized for what tools they choose as part of their instruction.

Like everything, the tool will only be good as the teacher who uses it. In my opinion, educational tools (or apps) are like Legos. They are cool, but don’t do anything amazing unless you put in the work to build something extraordinary. Furthermore, before you can build that epic structure you have to be inspired, willing to think outside the box and have grit. 

Bitmoji Classroom is helping teachers develop these skills and is a tool that is a creative outlet for many. Did you know creativity is a great stress relief? Teachers are creating virtual spaces that are visually appealing and will engage students (whether they are face-to-face or virtual this year). While they are creating these Bitmoji classrooms they are collaborating with one another. They are asking for feedback and offering suggestions to one another. All the while, they are discussing how to best integrate their curriculum with this tool. How do I know this to be true? I am actively working in online spaces where I see this collaboration occurring daily. One Facebook group alone has over 300,000 members sharing and discussing Bitmoji classrooms!

So, before anyone criticizes a teacher for how they want to move into this next phase of pandemic learning, let’s praise them for working on the 4C’s (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication). These are the critical skills our students need to be successful in the future.  After all, don’t we want teachers to practice and model these skills before stepping back into the classroom this fall?

For any educator that wants some support & coaching, join me in the PLP Community Hub. It’s a supportive (and collaborative) space where educators are built up and celebrated! Oh, and did I mention I love talking about best practices with Bitmoji classrooms 😉

Want to explore more tools and consider best practices for teaching in online and blended learning spaces? April Chamberlain is getting ready to kick-off our fully updated Teaching and Learning in the Online and Blended Classroom course! It’s an 8-week instructor led course that will support you as you get ready for the year ahead.

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Christen Dodd

Christen is a Connected Learning Specialist for PLP. After earning her MEd. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Virginia, she began her career as a K-5 Computer Resource Teacher. She enjoyed collaborating with staff and creating technology lessons that engaged students, but caught “the bug” for presenting to educators on a national level. For eleven years, Christen trained educators both face-to-face and virtually with Verizon Thinkfinity. She also served as their Distance Learning Coordinator and Vice President of Professional Development. Christen has enjoyed working with Powerful Learning Practice since 2011 and continuing her work with educators, parents and students alike. Currently, she is also an instructional technology specialist at her children's JK-8 Catholic school.

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