Today’s Contributor: Tanya DaMommio is a 5th grade teacher at Summitt Elementary. She is an English partner teacher in the Vietnamese Dual Language program and a graduate of the Transformative Technology Leadership Pathway. This is her 5th year as her campus’ CIC. Not only is she a product of Austin ISD herself, but she also has three kids who are as well, almost, one is still in high school.
To put things in perspective for you, on March 12th, my campus of 857 students had about 7-9 teachers using BLEND (Canvas LMS) consistently. We just weren’t there yet, though we were trying and making baby steps, we hadn’t gotten all the way there. Then, on March 25th I held my first Zoom about getting started in BLEND. Every teacher from PK-2nd attended and the next day I hosted one for the upper grades and Special Education. I’m not going to lie, I suddenly felt like the most popular kid at school. It was a heady feeling, that this tool I had been trying to share for so long was suddenly what they were all clamoring for!
About 3 minutes into that first session I realized that I was going to have to ditch my entire, carefully made plan for the session and start at the very beginning. You see, though all my teachers had used BLEND, they didn’t consider themselves BLEND Users. That may seem like semantics, but if you think about it, there is a huge gap between knowing how to get your dinner out of the fridge and warm it up in the microwave and being able to cook a meal from scratch. My teachers didn’t feel comfortable enough with BLEND to help their students navigate, much less build content. So, even though we were retracing our steps, so to speak, we started at the beginning. I realized, somewhat belatedly, that they needed this rehearsal to become more comfortable in their new environment. They needed a chance to say, “Oh, yeah, I remember that!”. They needed some familiar ground on which to take their first steps.
Once that familiar territory had been established, I was able to branch out into more complex topics and do some 1:1 sessions for people’s unique situations. Thankfully, one of our awesome Kinder teachers decided to take on learning SeeSaw and our Technology Design Coach and the rest of the tech team jumped into that breach as well. Because even though tech is my “thing”, I too was feeling the overwhelm of the situation and I’m grateful I didn’t have to learn SeeSaw from the ground up to the level that I would need to in order to provide support for my teachers.
After that first couple of weeks, my teachers really found their groove and they started trying new things and barely needed me at all! I have to tell you, that if you had asked me on March 12th, if my campus would be adopting BLEND by the end of the school year I would have given you a very emphatic, “No way!”. But, like dedicated teachers all over, my colleagues adapted and adopted quickly so they could serve their students. They all signed up for the crash course and all graduated with honors, I am proud to say.