Author Archives: Amy Leslie

The Sum of the Learning!

Reflecting on how much we have covered in this class in such a short time, I realized it was incredibly difficult to do justice to what I have learned in this video! I could have talked at length about each debate. Instead, I stuck with the similarities I noticed across all the debates and where I think we can move forward. The one thing we know for certain is that the world has changed, and whatever side of the Great EdTech Debates we landed on, we are all tasked with supporting our children and students in navigating a digital world.

It has been wonderful meeting and working with you all! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer.

So Much More than a Digital Divide

Has technology led to a more equitable society? My answer is no, although after today’s debate, I see the issue as much more complex than when I first voted. At the initial vote, I thought only of access to devices and connectivity. By the end of the debate, I was thinking more about the divides in our society beyond technology and asking myself whether technology can bridge the gaps in those areas. While I do believe that technology certainly has the potential to create awareness and even begin to close some of the gaps regarding race, culture, gender, and socioeconomic differences, technology itself comes with its own predetermined set of behavioural expectations and trending language, which creates different gaps for the people who use it. International human rights day, diverse hands raised up together. Capturing the diverse voices, actions, and aspirations that contribute ongoing of building a more just and equitable global society

Welcome to Utopia conceptThe readings for the agree side of this debate advocate for equal access to technology and the utilization of technology to address issues of accessibility and learning differences for students. While the readings describe several hurdles that need to be overcome before we reach a point of equal access to technology, they have an optimistic take on the future perspectives of technology and where it can take us in creating an equitable society. I enjoy dreaming about a future like this, where everyone can access devices and bandwidth equally. I think we could achieve amazing things if we minimize digital differences in our communities!

Internet divide.The keyboard is split by the cracks that separate the opposites.Social Divide.Divided world.conflicts.cyberbullying.More realistically, this utopian view of the future is still many years in the making and will require a shift in a significant number of policies around how resources are distributed and accessed worldwide. After this debate, the disagreeing side’s points from Shaping Youth Discourse About Technology and how tech companies continue to push White colonial perspectives as the desired norm have resonated with me. The digital divide mirrors racial, cultural, gender and socioeconomic divides in our society. It’s not surprising to learn that digital have-not groups in Canada include Indigenous communities that also do not have clean drinking water. Before we can fix the digital divide, we have many other societal problems to address. 

Technology can play a huge role in helping minority voices gain traction and create action. Movements such as Me Too and Black Lives Matter have leveraged technology and social media to bring international awareness to the issues and gather support to call for change. Personally, I have enjoyed seeing Indigenous creators share their culture and ways of knowing on social media. When I come across a TikTok or Facebook Reel of an Indigenous person talking about their culture, I am filled with a range of emotions. I’m always thrilled to see their content and love to see it being shared on popular platforms. Still, then I think about the history of effort that went into silencing their culture and remember that these short snippets shouldn’t be a novel experience. 


& that’s just the tip of the iceberg! INSPO: @santeesiouxx @meekis.xo ❤ #indigenous #genocide #history #fyp #foryou #nativetiktok #native #canada #us

♬ original sound – 👑 The Audio King 👑

Technology has undoubtedly created new outlets for minoritized groups to share their voices and be heard in mainstream social media. This has made it possible for our society to become more aware of cultural, racial, and gender differences. With this awareness, it is possible we may begin to bridge some of the divides in our society. So, perhaps technology is a tool that can help us move forward and create a more equitable society, but we sure have a long way to go.

Welcome to the New Speakeasy!

Happy teenage girls in class looking at cell phoneAs an administrator, the thought of the provincial government implementing a ban on cell phones and classrooms fills me with dread. While I support the general idea of limiting cell phones in classrooms to limit distractions to learning, enforcing this legislation will continue to land on the plates of classroom teachers and school-based administrators. Many schools already have cell phone policies that prohibit students from having their cell phones with them or using them during class time. Despite these pre-existing policies, school staff fight daily with students about their cell phones. I am not sure how provincial legislation is going to change this fight. It is nice to have support from the province and the Ministry of Education behind school voices saying that cell phones are a problem in a classroom. However, I do not believe banning cell phones in schools is the solution.

Blah Blah BlahWhen I think about my stance on this debate, the usual arguments come to mind: This is the world we live in now. We need to spend more time teaching kids about digital citizenship; we need to spend more time training teachers, and parents need to be more involved in monitoring and learning about the technology that their children are using. However, Kendyll raised an excellent point today that has stuck with me. When and how do we do this? As experts in teaching children new skills and helping them find solutions to a myriad of problems in traditional subject areas, teachers have a general idea of what needs to be done to address concerns about technology in classrooms. The problem comes with finding the time and adequate resources to do it well.

Our education systems are currently divided between what curriculum standards teach and what society values. Digging into the Saskatchewan Curriculum, there are no formal learning outcomes related to the use of technology in the curriculum until grade 10 when students can take optional Practical and Applied Arts (PAA) courses. Students in grades 7-9 may get earlier instruction on these concepts if their teacher decides to teach some of the outcomes as part of their PAA program. Other curricula from K-9 often mention reviewing or responding to information in multi-media formats. However, a significant lack of direction regarding student learning about technology exists. Teachers often spend class time designated for other subject areas to teach students the minimum required skills to use the technology in their classes effectively. Teachers are expected to use technology in their teaching and classrooms and understand it well enough to teach students how to use it. However, there has been little to no capacity building for teachers to build their familiarity and proficiency with the available technology, leaving students to learn how to use it independently or through their peers.

A computer science classroom for elementary school students. Smart students work on computers and learn programming languages for software coding. Schoolchildren get modern education. Back view.When considering cell phones in classrooms, the opposing side made several key points, highlighting how cell phones can be useful resources and tools for students and staff. While I agree with this argument, with our current education system and the level of tech instruction that teachers and students receive, at the moment, it kind of feels – to borrow a phrase used by my school division while teaching through COVID – like we’re building the airplane as we’re flying it. Certainly, classroom management plays a huge part in ensuring that cell phones are not being misused or disrupting the learning taking place in classrooms. However, at the same time, it is clear that children need more education and support from adults to use their devices appropriately and find a balance between online and offline interactions. 


Just like prohibition didn’t curb the sale or use of alcohol, putting a blanket ban on cell phones in classrooms will only encourage students to rise to the challenge of finding sneakier ways of getting their phones in the building and using them.

Bots, Cymeks, and J.A.R.V.I.S, oh my!!

Terminator-like cyborg bionic robot looking angrily at the camera portrait style orange purple and pink neon vivid colorsWhen reflecting upon the debate about AI (Artificial Intelligence) in schools, I struggle to decide which side of the fence I am on. While I see the potential benefits of including AI as an educational tool in classrooms, I am still wary of AI and its place in our daily lives. This wariness most likely comes from growing up watching The Terminator and its depiction of the near-mass extinction of humanity brought about by the AI network Skynet

Lately, I have been reading The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Which, chronologically, is the first in the Dune series. While completing the reading for this module, particularly thinking about how AI can free up teacher time from doing administrative tasks, I kept thinking about the novel and the background the author gives to set the stage for the events in this book. 

The beginning of the book describes the history that has led to this point of the story. Centuries ago, humanity became complacent and lost all ambition to think or dream after relying on AI and machines to do all their mundane tasks. A group of rebels decided it was time for a change in the Empire to renew the human spirit. The group reprograms the AI to help them take over the Empire by giving the AI human characteristics. After their victory, the group turned themselves into Cymeks, robots with human brains so that they could live and rule forever. They ruled this way for a century until one of the rebel members surrendered too much access to his AI network so that he could spend more time pursuing his pleasures. 

Generative AI illustration of illuminated brain in glass jar

This results in the AI known as Ominous becoming self-aware, turning on his creators and conquering most of the galaxy. The rest of the book tells the story of the war between humans and thinking machines (AI robots) after centuries of Ominous spreading and ruling the galaxy. 

This fiction, along with the discussion in the disagreeing side’s readings about the possibility of teachers becoming obsolete, has me thinking about how easily we could hand over tasks that we routinely do to free up our time for so-called more important work. The question that comes to my mind is, where is the line? How do we define tasks that are acceptable for AI to do or that should be done by humans? As AI continues learning from us and adapting, I imagine it will become more proficient at higher-level thinking problems. What happens then? As I write this, I am also aware that I am woefully ignorant of how AI works, which is a big part of my problem. I don’t understand it, so I’m slightly afraid of it. It’s also exciting to think about what AI could do! Artificial intelligence bot with thinking abilities, the world in a head, Artificial Intelligence powered system, AI brainImagine being like Tony Stark and having your own J.A.R.V.I.S. to talk to and help run your life – amazing! Imagine having an AI partner in your classroom who collects data as you teach and monitors student progress. In our classrooms bursting with 40+ students, would it become possible to reach them all with an AI partner monitoring the room? 

Science fiction is no stranger to telling stories that warn us of the dangers of misusing AI and its eventual takeover of our societies. At the same time, science fiction can also be a precursor to science facts, with shows like Star Trek helping us to imagine the possibilities of technology in our daily lives, such as video calls, flip phones and automatic sliding doors. Movies like Interstellar helped scientists render images of black holes and provide new insights into how black holes’ gravitational fields work.

Black hole system. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

However, when I reflect upon the science fiction movies I have watched, I have difficulty thinking of any revolutionary depictions of how education might look different. The 2009 Star Trek movie shows us glimpses of a young Spok answering rapid-fire questions in some sort of learning pod while an adult monitors, and we see James T. Kirk attend university in classrooms that mirror those of today. Maybe it’s time for educators to take up the dream of how education can evolve in a technological world.

Undoubtedly, to prepare students for their futures, we must embrace the technology that is available and readily accessible to them. AI is another tool that teachers can utilize to help prepare students to live in the world. However, if there are any lessons to learn from the fiction surrounding AI, it seems that caution is key. As with any tech tool in education, there is a need for professional development and sound policy development to guide the use of AI to ensure that it is being used meaningfully and that student data and privacy are protected.

I Sounded Smarter in my Head

For me, this is what debating feels like! I have great arguments in my brain, but when I open my mouth, my mind empties and nothing comes out how it should!


#haveyoueverhadadream #thinkingabout #eminem #quadriplegic #humor #funny

♬ original sound – Marcial

Cell phone addiction concept. Many teens hold smart device. Social media like obsession. Online communication problem. People watch mobile gadget screen. Art illustration. Cyberspace internet network.This debate was a hard one for me to argue the disagreeing side. As an educator these days, you don’t have to look very far to see the negative impacts of social media on students and their social interactions. The change I see occur between students in grades four or five and students in grades 6 and 7 in my school always makes me stand back and marvel at how quickly these little people change and grow. One of the main differences between these two groups of students is their access to technology and social media. In my community, grade 6 tends to be when most of our students get their own cell phones and some device freedom. This is also when they begin to test the boundaries of school expectations and desperately try to fit in with their peers. It doesn’t seem like much of a reach to say that access to social media is making an already socially difficult time in students’ lives even harder.

Rear view of people with placards and posters on global strike for climate change.While doing the reading for the disagree side of this debate, I was surprised to find research that does not support a direct relationship between adolescent use of social media and adolescent mental illness. I found it quite interesting to read about some of the fears and facts surrounding social media use by children. While I agree that social media impacts children’s lives, I also wonder about the accuracy of some of the claims and whether adequate research supports them. Children live in a very different world than I grew up in; the world has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. We live in an ongoing recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed society. Today, children live in a world that is more uncertain than ever. Undoubtedly, social media use can add even more stress and uncertainty to student lives and provide easy access to dangerous spaces and people whom students may otherwise not have encountered in their lives without social media. The world has become small, and danger lurks around every corner. Whether or not we want technology in our lives, this is the world that we live in and the world that we must learn to navigate. 

Multi-Ethnic Group of People in a Meeting and Research Concept

One of the ongoing problems in any technological debate is the issue of methodologically sound research being able to keep up with technological innovations. Every day, there seems to be a technological breakthrough, and these innovations are rapidly being introduced to social media platforms. The lines between reality and fiction in the technological world seem to no longer exist, and children are being overwhelmed with information they don’t know how to analyze critically. Academic research has always been slow to evolve to include the social sciences and technological advancements. Studying the impacts of technology requires new methodologies and longitudinal studies that can accurately capture the many complexities of living in a technological world. Unfortunately, one of the problems researchers face in a longitudinal study is that technology is changing so fast that the variables of their studies change over time, making it difficult, if not impossible, to interpret results accurately.

A hungry boy and a girl with a cardboard tablet with the inscription I'm hungry . The social problem.There is no question in my mind that social media is drastically impacting our children. However, the blanket statement that social media is ruining childhood is extreme. While social media has risks, there are also several positives that children can benefit from that should not be discounted. As we work to find ways to keep children safe online, we also need to look at the challenges they face in their offline lives and address those areas as well. Placing all of the blame for the current child mental health crisis on social media seems a bit irresponsible. Just as we have seen previous generations struggle to accept innovations such as drive-in movies, comic books, and other things we now take for granted, we must accept that social media is here to stay and find ways to regulate it that support positive experiences for the children who use it.

If I put a computer in the desert, does it enhance the desert?

Human impactObviously, dropping a computer into a space does not automatically enhance that space or make those in that space technologically proficient.

When I first considered the debate about whether or not technology enhances learning, my immediate response was, “Of course it does.” Technology is an amazing tool that can do amazing things in our classrooms. In my teaching practice, I have actively searched for ways to integrate technology into my teaching effectively. This has often included using hours of my own time to learn how to effectively use teaching tools and plan for effective implementation in my classroom. The readings for both sides of this debate share a common theme: more research is needed, as is more training and professional development for teachers implementing technology in the classroom. There is general agreement that simply putting devices in a classroom does not guarantee that students will use them effectively or appropriately. 

young blonde sad and depressed caucasian manager working in stress at office computer desk feeling overwhelmed and frustrated suffering headache and depression isolated over red background.

Unfortunately, teachers are tasked with overwhelming daily duties in today’s classrooms. Adding on expectations for teachers to spend their time exploring technology and becoming proficient in its use in the classroom becomes another daunting task on a plate that is already full.

Some teachers, like myself, enjoy using technology, exploring what it can do, and finding ways to bring it into our classrooms to enhance our teaching and students’ learning. However, this is not the case for all teachers. Just as our students have different levels of technological proficiency, so do our teachers. For some teachers, including technology comes very easily. Using technology is daunting for others, and they would prefer just to teach how they’ve always taught. After all, classrooms without technology were good enough for them as children, so why shouldn’t technology-free classrooms be good enough for today’s children? 

Digital community, smart homes and digital community. DX, Iot, digital network in society concept. suburban houses at night with data transactionsThe problem with this thinking is it does not align with teaching students to thrive in the society that we live in. The purpose of education is to teach students to be successful members of the society that the dominant groups have determined to be ideal. Some of us may remember the good old days before a screen was in our hands every minute of every day. Or disagree that today’s society is the ideal. However, the truth of our world is that there is technology everywhere our students go. It is deeply ingrained in our society, and students are expected to be proficient technology users. 

Undoubtedly, for us to develop the skills of our students so they may thrive in a technological world, teacher capability, pedagogy, and school curricula need to adapt to meet the demands of a technological world. Simply putting technology in a classroom does not enhance learning. However, spending time providing professional development for teachers and allowing teachers to collaborate and intentionally plan how technology can be used to enhance their teaching is an important investment for the future of our classrooms. The more proficient teachers are with technology in classrooms, the easier it becomes to use it to enhance student learning and build student capacity with technology.

No longer dying of dysentery, but maybe a little too connected?

pc, computer, desktop
Photo by DziarskiLisek on Pixabay

My love of technology began the first time I stepped into the computer lab in elementary school and played The Oregon Trail. I died of dysentery every single time, but it didn’t bother me one bit; I was hooked! Throughout my seventeen years of teaching, I have always been an avid user of technology and have sought to incorporate it into my teaching whenever and wherever I can. I have sought opportunities to try new tech in my classroom and volunteered to be a tech innovator in my school division. When teacher convention time comes, I always seek out presentations based on Ed Tech, and in recent years, I have begun to present some of these sessions myself. There is no doubt that when it comes to tech in education, I am an advocate. However, as I grow in my career, I am learning to ask important questions about the technology that my students and staff are utilizing and take a more critical look at how tech companies use student data.

Photo by janeb13 on Pixabay

Three years ago, my teaching position changed to a vice principalship. Initially, I was a bit sad to be out of the general classroom where I could use technology in my day-to-day teaching, and it took me a little while to identify ways to integrate technology into my administrative practice meaningfully. When I reflect upon a typical school day and how technology is involved, I immediately think of my iPhone. During the school year, my phone is within arm’s reach every minute of every day, and I wear a Fitbit watch on my wrist that connects me to my phone, ensuring I never miss a notification. While I have my phone and watch on Do Not Disturb between 10 pm and 6 am, I respond the rest of the day.

Photo by rgaudet17 on Pixabay

I am their first phone call if a staff member is sick in the morning and needs a replacement. With my phone in hand, I can easily access our school calendar and substitute contact information to start looking for a replacement immediately. Throughout the school day, I always keep my phone in my pocket as my principal, and I are rarely in one place for very long. The principal, office manager and I must communicate efficiently throughout the school day. In the event of a school drill or emergency, all staff use our cell phones to communicate updates and student counts in group messages efficiently. Having our cell phones on us also ensures that our superintendent can reach us anytime throughout the school day. This was particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic when our superintendent would notify us of potential protests being staged near our school.

technology, keyboard, computing
Photo by Pixies on Pixabay

After ensuring we are fully staffed each day (Which has become an incredibly challenging problem worthy of its own blog post!), my next step is to ensure that our calendars and daily staff schedules are up to date. When I began my vice principalship, one of the first problems I was asked to help solve was ensuring all staff had access to timely information about student absences and school events while also ensuring that this information was being kept confidential. Before this, the information was available on a whiteboard in the school staffroom, a system that had worked flawlessly until a parent volunteer chose to share the information inappropriately in the community. To address this, I took our daily schedules digital and created a shared document for school staff to access, including the day’s events and daily student absences. Since creating the document, it has evolved to include the calendar for the entire year and hyperlinks to many documents that staff regularly use, including school division policies, spare bus driver lists, school supervision schedules, and staff contact information.

Digital Book of Knowledge - Digital Data in a Futuristic Book
Digital Book of Knowledge

The rest of my technological school day involves fixing student and staff devices when they aren’t working properly, collecting and sharing student data in spreadsheets, forms, and presentations, and checking out new websites and apps for my staff to use in their teaching. While some of my staff can be a bit tech-phobic in their teaching and prefer to keep things as low-tech as possible, I have a few teachers who enjoy tech as much as I do. I get excited when they ask for my help finding new and innovative ways to help students share their learning or connect in the classroom. My administrative position allows me to search and test new websites and apps and allows my staff to focus on their teaching rather than trying to find apps that work. Over the past few years, I have helped my staff to use Flip to connect student reading groups in different grades and schools, Google apps to help students collaborate, Google Meets to connect students with Olympic athletes, and Boom Cards and Kahoot! to help students practice the concepts they are learning. Most recently, through my master’s classes, I have taken apps such as Mentimeter, Genially, and Blooket back to my staff and shown them how they can use these sites in their classrooms.

While technology in my teaching practice and my daily life have changed significantly since I began my teaching career, my passion for exploring new technology and integrating it into my street girl privacy settingsteaching practice has remained constant. I am thankful to have had opportunities to learn more about how student data is being used. In a recent class, I found the article Disaster Capitalism, Rampant EdTech Opportunism, and the Advancement of Online Learning in the Era of COVID19 by Moore, Jayme, & Black (2021) to be especially enlightening when describing how large tech companies are profiting from and pushing the use of EdTech that may not be effective or particularly helpful in today’s classrooms. Technology and social media are integral parts of our daily lives, whether we want them to be or not. As we progress into the future with EdTech, it is incredibly important that we continue to scrutinize every aspect of how technology is using our data and affecting our mental health and relationships. One of my absolute favourite things to do on the last day of school each year is to take off my Fitbit, stuff it in my dresser drawer until the end of the summer, and declare my backyard a no-cell phone zone. It is one small way that I disconnect myself from the constant notifications streaming through my phone and strive to be present among nature and the people around me rather than focusing on the digital world.

Summary of Learning

It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of this course! I have learned a lot in this course and really enjoyed digging into some new technology and reflecting upon how I can implement it in my blended learning classroom. To summarize my learning, I took a risk and tried out Animaker to make an animated video for my final presentation. This proved to be another fun, but also challenging adventure on my content creation journey in this class. I had a lot of fun using Animaker, only to realize once I was done that I couldn’t download the full-length video using the free version! So I borrowed an idea from one of our class discussions, and used Screencastify to record my video. I’m a little sad that some video quality was lost in the recording, but not sad enough to pay for Animaker! I have included two links to my Summary of Learning video to help you access it; the Animaker viewing link that works, but is a little slow to load and the YouTube recording below.


Final Module & Course Walkthrough

Grade 5 Math Course Overview

Throughout the duration of this class, I have created a blended learning course targeted towards teaching grade 5 math using both synchronous and asynchronous activities. I have used Google Classroom to create a course shell that includes placeholders for future content, along with the two instructional modules that I created for this course. The modules I have created target the learning outcomes for fractions in the number strand of the Saskatchewan curriculum. To learn more about this course, please take a look at my Course Profile blog post. This profile details each of the elements I’ve included in my course prototype and the rational for each element included.

Creation Process

When I began working on developing this course, I started with a foundation of the elements and blended learning activities that I developed to Curious woman looking through a magnifying glassuse with my students during the pandemic. As my course development has progressed, I have developed new ways of creating content for students. One of the most impactful pieces of learning from the readings and activities I worked through in EC&I 834 has been to take a critical look at my course prototype through the lens of accessibility. I have found myself going back to my first module content and assignments multiple times throughout the creation process to review whether my content is accessible, and to make improvements where I felt they were necessary.

The process of creating this course has also given me an opportunity to work with new technology that I previously was not aware of, or felt I did not have the time to dig into. I am really excited about the possibilities for creating content that are now available and have found myself looking for ways to integrate what I have learned into my daily tasks. While creating this course, I have learned to use Explain Everything and Canva, and I have taken my skills with Screencastify and video editing to the next level. I have also taken a closer look at the types of interactions that my course provides for students, and have spent some time further exploring the capabilities for student-student interactions within the Flip platform.

Course Walkthrough & Joining Information

Google Classroom  Join Code: l5bcal4

If it’s not possible to get into my Google Classroom, you can use these links to access and view the Daily Boards for Module 1 and Module 2.

Course Walkthrough Interactive Video

Course Walkthrough YouTube Video (no interactions)


Online Learning Community

Smiling girl in headset using laptop, talking during videochatThere are a variety of interaction forms included in my course prototype. In the physical classroom, students have the opportunity to problem solve together during their math thinking problems and during the different workstations. Students working virtually have the opportunity to provide and reflect upon peer feedback in their Flip video math journals. After reviewing the feedback given to me last week, I have decided to also create a virtual Flip community for my class to share their thinking and problem solving strategies when completing the math thinking problems by Peter Liljedahl. Students in the face-to-face classroom have the opportunity to interact directly with the teacher during the teacher table workstation. The instructor is also available to provide feedback and interact with students during the thinking problem and exit ticket at the end of the lesson. Online, students receive feedback on their work directly through Google Classroom. Students also receive teacher responses to their Flip video math journal entries.

I’ve chosen to use Flip as the main form of student-student interaction in this course as it is easy for me as the instructor to set-up discussion topics and moderate student responses as needed. I appreciate the variety of options that Flip provides for teachers when setting up discussion grids, and students are easily able to create content and respond to their peers after a brief learning period. To ensure that interactions are meaningful and supportive in the Flip, I spend time with my class co-constructing a behaviour rubric, similar to the workstation behaviour rubric that is posted in my course. This allows students to set the criteria for responding to peer journals, and helps to keep them accountable to the expectations they have decided on together. The rubric also provides an opportunity for students to engage in self-reflection and assessment of their online work and behaviour. I feel it is important to note that these rubrics are not used for formal student assessment, they are solely used for student reflection, discussion of expected classroom behaviours, and classroom management. I will post an example of a Flip response rubric in my course prototype with the next module.

Woman teacher teaching online, coronavirus and online distance learning concept.While completing this week’s readings about building community, particularly the article by Parrish, I found myself reflecting on teaching through COVID. When the pandemic began, colleagues and I noticed when we went online that students who were more connected in the classroom, were more willing to ‘show up’ online. Those who were not regularly included in the classroom community did not engage online. I remember having the discussions with colleagues about students who weren’t joining the online discussions, but they were finishing assignments. We would express our frustration with these students not logging in and joining class discussions because, as teachers, we know the rich conversation and connections that can happen during conversation. At the same time, however, several of these ‘absent’ students were completing their online work with accuracy, so the questions soon became, “How do we measure their success with online learning? Does attendance matter?” Inevitably, the conversation would always return to the point of allowing grace for students who were thrust online while suddenly living in a pandemic, and we accepted whatever we could get from them. We were just happy to be able to continue teaching and connecting with our students in whatever way we could.

I wonder (with the benefit of hindsight) if our online courses would have had higher engagement if the focus at the beginning had been on building community. For myself, in the division I was working in at the time, the focus from the top-down was simply, get students online and focus on math and ELA as soon as possible. I think teaching through COVID and asking these questions raised awareness of asynchronous models of teaching and has created an atmosphere where different modes of learning and content delivery are more acceptable and more readily available, particularly in the elementary classroom. While pandemic teaching was challenging, I think it created a kind of catalyst event in that it has shifted perceptions of blended and online learning. Colleagues of my own are now more open to the capabilities of technology and using them more comfortably in their day-to-day teaching than they had before being pushed online in 2020.