has happened for a while now. It started last spring and has taken its toll. I don’t just mean that in the way that it has impacted the education of my students, but in the way that it’s left my heart in palpitations, my night’s sleep interrupted, and has helped those strange shadows flit from the corners of a dimly lit room.
Sure I’m being over-dramatic, but I am not being a bit untruthful. Distance learning is stressful for teachers too. For me, I think, it is the uncertainty of the whole thing, but I am working to change that.
I’m working to translate my in-person instruction into something like independent learning. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years now and I’d like to think I’m getting the hang of it. (Not that I am, mind you, that’s just what I’d like to think.) I’m also hoping that by documenting some of my efforts here that it will help me reflect and refine my pedagogy, sharpen my skill, and open my mind to new possibilities and opportunities that are out there with things the way they are now, are going to be, and will never be again.
Let’s start with what I have to work with: My district has had Canvas as an optional tool for years now. It is one of those things the district mentions occasionally in a general email that has little meaning and relevance for daily instruction. It is one of those nice things that some teachers who seem to be so lightly engaged in their own instruction that they have time to wonder, to ponder, to explore the possibilities of things strewn across their path by some district administrator who happened upon the same thing in his/her path. A newsletter, of sorts, that suggests that they are actively engaged in the activity for which they are paid. “Did you know” goes out via email and “It’s so wonderful” comes back. Now pack up your things, stroll through the office space, chat up the classified staff, and drive home thinking about how excited you are to coach your daughter’s soccer team this weekend or whatever else a person does to occupy their time on the weekend. Nice.
For those of us who avoid the small talk and rush home impatiently because there is little room for thinking in the classroom and have a lot of grading to do, there isn’t much attractive about Canvas. It’s a tool. One of many. Like stars in the night sky; those that have spent their early years studying their particular characteristics can appreciate individual beacons of light, but the rest of us just look and wonder. They are spectacular in their multitude!
Clever! Canvas! Ooh, look, there’s Quizizz and Freckle! We don’t know the story behind them or what they mean, but we know the origin of the myth, that of an effective change agent, impacting the lives of all those who encounter our dedication and professionalism! Who has the time to read the story of each one? Who has time to consider its impact on our career? Please! My sleeves are already rolled up and I’m doing that thing that I’m meant to do. What feckless imp would think I have the spare time to read that wasted email that has this minute fossil of discovery? If this discovery was worth sharing, it should be a training, not a newsletter!
So… here I am, using Canvas, and finding it… interesting.