Reflection on the First Day of the Writing Retreat@ Kean 2020

Blog 1: June 22, 2020

After abruptly shifting to remote learning on March 17, 2020, I did not get a chance to reflect on my experiences as a graduate student and as a high school English teacher. In terms of my graduate experience, my professors smoothly transitioned us to remote learning without sacrificing academic rigor. In my Digital Literacy class, I was able to leave with a digital story treatment filled with memes and gifs that chronicled my emotional journey during COVID-19. In my Research Methods class, I managed to write the first 15 pages of my research proposal along with an annotated bibliography. During the writing retreat, I plan to expand my research proposal. I look forward to Dr. Zamora’s feedback. 

Since I had great professors during remote learning who taught me Slack, Zoom, Google Meets, Blackboard, and various other educational technologies, it made my transition into remote learning quicker and more efficient. I did not have to quickly learn how to implement new technology platforms since I was accustomed to using them as a graduate student. By the second week of remote learning, I was able to successfully schedule both Zoom and Google Meet sessions with my students. By the end of the school year, I felt confident to be a marshal for the first virtual graduation, which was conducted via Zoom. From the experience with remote learning, I agree with Dr. Zamora that socio-emotional during remote learning, a period of isolation, is paramount. It is important for our professors to connect with us;  it is important for us, educators, to connect with our students, their parents, and our colleagues. Humanity is crucial during remote learning. 

However, by the end of the year, I had enough of remote learning. I was mentally exhausted and was not looking forward to September 2020. What would the first day of remote learning look like in September? 

Fortunately, Dr. Zamora provided such a great first day of remote learning. It was organized, multimodal, and interactive. Here are my thoughts about today’s first day of remote learning lesson:

  • I liked the suggestion of everyone switching their view to grid-view since it created a sense of community and connectedness. 
  • I also enjoyed the Two Truths and One Lie icebreaker since it was engaging. Based on my experience, students during Google Meets were checking their social media and not paying attention to one another. However, with this particular icebreaker, the  audience had to listen to one another to find discover the “lie.” Everyone was engaged and learned new information from one another. Listening to one another is essential in creating a sense of connectedness.
  • I also plan to provide information on slides so students can hear and read the directions. Having directions in writing is like a comforting blanket; students can refer back to them when needed.
  • I also liked that Dr. Zamora focused on participation and that participation is an important part of the “grading.” Yes, engagement and collaboration will be a major part of my grading policy in the fall. 
  • Multimodal assignments such as posting a picture of your writing space create a community of writers. The photograph gives the audience a glimpse into your little part of the world. It creates a beautiful sense of intimacy.
  • I miss blogging, and I am excited to learn from Dr. Zamora and all my classmates, old and new.

Overall, I had a great first day and look forward to tomorrow when I will be working in small groups and with Dr. Zamora. 

(Gify, June 22, 2020)

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