As we continue thinking about how to structure our classes in moving to the hybrid model, one of the most important factors we need to consider is what the learning experience is like for our students.

As I mentioned in several of the PD sessions I have helped facilitate, we need to design with empathy. What is it like to be a student in this class the way I have structured it? And what is the student’s whole day like?

The fact of the matter is this: if every teacher structures their class the same way, that’s 6 times the experience for every secondary student. Multiply your 40-minute “discussion” by 6. Multiply the number of tools and websites you have students learn, log in to, know, and transition into by 6. Multiply the amount of time students sit compliantly and passively, or sit silently in a breakout room until it’s over, by 6.

Simple Doesn’t Mean “Teacher-Centered”.

While I advocate for keeping things simple, especially at first, that doesn’t mean that we need to make this a teacher-centered endeavor. There are many things we can do as teachers to make this a fruitful experience.

While it may be tempting to use many different tools in your class, and sometimes looks like the class is moving at break-neck speed and give the illusion of engagement, that is also a source of anxiety for students–not to mention multiple sites to juggle for yourself (times 6, too). Using too many tools and transitions may just work in the opposite manner and limit the degree to which deep learning is happening in our classes. One way to streamline things is to use a multi-tool. My preference at the moment is Nearpod. And I’m thankful that Nearpod is available to all teachers. Nearpod contains many tools within, including the option to create interactive videos (which can eliminate the need for EdPuzzle), collaboration boards (à la Jamboard), and other embedded interactive, formative-assessment. And, what’s, more, it will record a decent selection of data for you to use in assessment and as you decide what steps are next for your classes. I would highly recommend just using Nearpod and cutting down the number of tools.

But again, students don’t necessarily want, nor will they benefit, from going through 6 class periods of a teacher-driven Nearpod lesson. Remember that student voice and choice is, and will always be, key to empowering students to take ownership in their learning. What choices do your students have in your lesson design? How much say do they get in which activities they do? What are their goals in learning in your class? These are all things we made progress in prior to the pandemic. Let’s keep these things in mind as we continue to get better at hybrid teaching.