When COVID started, my school and first grade class went virtual. Many educators were telling me that students were not coming to their zoom or not turning in their work. They were struggling with getting students engaged and participating in the process. However, I was not seeing those student outcomes. I had over 90% attendance and student work completion. Why? EduProtocols. The students were excited about learning, the work was fun but challenging, and they saw that they were truly learning. They had bought in.
When our school district went back to in person learning, my class stayed virtual, and I ended up getting an entirely new class in a different grade level. At first, I was stressed, but then I remembered EduProtocols. Using the EduProtocols helped me transition that new class mid-year. All I had to do was change the content, not the system. What a difference that made! I learned that EduProtocols not only engaged students, and made pedagogy intensely more effective, but it also saved me as a teacher. EduProtocols saved me time. EduProtocols saved me energy. EduProtocols saved me stress. EduProtocols made teaching fun again.
My journey to EduProtocols. After teaching pre-kindergarten, first grade and second grade I really saw how the standards progressed along the years, yet students were not quite mastering them. I would see how we went from teaching students numbers to gaining a strong number sense which would then help them with adding, subtracting, multiplying and even eventually fractions. Yet the actual number sense itself was not being mastered. Why? Why were kids learning their numbers and adding within 10 but not able to transfer those skills when we moved to adding within 20 or subtracting? I saw the same in my ELA standards. I know kinder and first grade teachers teach nouns, starting sentences with capital letters, and developing more complex sentences yet students in second grade would act like they never heard the word noun before. This is because they may have learned it at the time, but they did not truly master and internalize the concept. They did not learn how language worked together. How could we help ALL students master these skills and truly learn?
These are questions I asked myself. For me, one answer was small group instruction. Although this was effective, I was faced with another problem. What do the other kids do while I am working with students in a small group? How can I keep them engaged and learning instead of just providing busy work? And most importantly, how do I have time to do this? My answer at the time? Technology! I knew my students loved technology and were easily engaged with using it in almost any form. I also knew I could easily differentiate my instruction using technology. This is how I got involved in the world of educational technology. However, it was not until I moved to California that my world really began to transform.
When I moved to California, my school sent me to the annual Spring CUE conference in Palm Springs. I was excited because I actually lived right in Palm Springs but had never been to a conference like this. Although I did not attend any of the EduProtocols sessions, this is where my journey began. I started learning about using technology in a way that enhances students' learning experiences. I went from using the tools, to using the tools to increase pedagogy resulting in some amazing student growth and classroom transformations. As a result, I say I was bitten by the technology conference bug. I started going to the local affiliate events and this is where I met Kim Voge. I attended one of her EduProtocols sessions and I immediately started to think how although many of the protocols seemed geared towards upper elementary and beyond, they could easily be adaptable for my younger learners. I got on Twitter and started to explore EduProtocols for primary learners. Wow! This is where my world opened up. I was hooked and I had to learn more.
I reached out to Jon Corippo and Kim Voge and invited them to present a workshop for one of our local events. This was by far an amazing learning experience that really showed me why EduProtocols were so important. It was not just about technology. In fact, many of the protocols did not require technology at all. It was about pedagogy. It was about truly transforming the way we teach. I went back to my classroom that Monday and started implementing some protocols right away and then COVID hit.
This was something that we all know truly rattled the world of education, but it also changed the way we as educators could learn. Kim Voge offered up some FREE virtual professional development through her Facebook Group Empowered Ed. I helped support and offered some of the PD as well, but more importantly I got to be a learner. As I participated in these sessions, I learned more and more about EduProtocols and started adapting them for primary grades. The result- students started asking me to assign the protocols. Students were learning and wanting to learn. This is how I knew EduProtocols weren’t just a fun concept, they were a necessity.