FETC Conference, January 25 - 28, 2022 Orange County Convention Center Orlando, FL

FETC® is here for you during this unusual
and historic time in education.

The Future of Education Technology® Conference is providing education technology leaders and professionals with guidance to help navigate the COVID-19 pandemic impacting schools across the nation. We understand this is a very difficult and unforeseen time in the lives of all educators.

As we all work through this together, we are collecting useful insights and strategies from former FETC speakers; plus our magazine, District Administration, is keeping on top of all the developments and passing helpful information on to you here.

This page will be updated regularly, join our mailing list to stay up-to-date.


Jesse Lubinsky

5 Tips

Jesse Lubinsky
Chief Learning Officer, Ready Learner One

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    Teachers often want to put their all into their work to create the best possible learning experiences for their students. But the pandemic has been an incredibly stressful time for educators. Learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. This can help focus you and your learning community.
    • Reduce by not adding anything unnecessary to your workload. Less can sometimes be more.
    • Reuse by reflecting on your teaching strategies and reusing the ones that resonate with your students. Even if you think using the same strategies might seem a bit redundant your learners will benefit from the consistency which in turn will help them be successful and know what to expect.
    • Recycle by resisting the urge to reinvent the wheel! Join an edchat (like #FETCchat!) and create a positive professional learning community through social networking. Having a learning support system in place for yourself is critical at a time like this!
  2. What Makes Your Students Unique?
    At a time when students are struggling to adapt just as much as educators, take some time to help students learn more about what makes them unique as learners. This can lead to some really great new workflows for your students as they continue learning in both new and traditional classroom settings. Here are a few of the options available:
    • Adobe Creative Type
    • VARK
    • Multiple Intelligence Survey
  3. Give Your Students Access to Agency
    Never has technology been more essential to the classroom than during the pandemic. But while educators are using technology to deliver instruction, how has that impacted the type of instruction we are giving to students? Find opportunities to give students agency by making them feel they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their learning. Here are two ways to give them more freedom to find the learning path that works best for them while meeting your instructional objectives:
    • 20% Time Projects
    • Genius Hour
  4. Experiment Comfortably and Take A Risk
    Many educators are nervous about trying out a new technology with their students without having mastered it first. But this is the perfect time to try something new with your classes to find an exciting learning experience you may not have discovered otherwise. We often ask our students to be risk-takers in their learning. The same holds true for educators! From virtual field trips to immersive new realities, the sky's the limit for what you can discover! Some places to start:
    • Google Earth - Incredible 3D imagery that can tie into any subject area
    • Mozilla Hubs - Free web-based virtual reality experiences
    • Adobe Spark - Visual storytelling brought to life
  5. Help students see the bigger picture
    If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that our struggle is the same struggle faced by people all over the globe. Help your learners understand that we are all in this together having your work viewed through a global lens. The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action by all countries, developed and developing, to employ a global partnerships that recognize “ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.” By using these SDGs as an anchor of your work, we will help flatten the global classroom even more and broaden the perspective of all learners.

Courtney Teague

5 Tips

Courtney Teague, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO, C7 Enterprises LLC; Director, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools; Founder,

  1. Create a balanced classroom, not a busy classroom
  2. Teach with grace
  3. Employ Improvisation
  4. Write them up (Write students positive notes)
  5. Practice Patience

Rosalyn Washington, Ph.D.

5 Tips to Encourage a Love of Reading During the Pandemic

Rosalyn Washington, Ph.D.
Digital Learning Specialist for Literacy, Atlanta Public Schools and Adjunct Professor, Georgia State University

  1. First, I want to encourage all educators to remember that this is a Pandemic – not regular school. There is no need to pretend otherwise. Because these are challenging and unprecedented times, extend a little (or a lot) of grace to students, parents and even to yourself. We should have realistic expectations of our students, families and the technology. Allow that the tech will sometimes disappoint us.
  2. Encourage leisure and free choice reading (even what we might call fluff) among your students and make room and time for students to chat or write about it. As educators we can model this by reading as well and taking time to discuss it with students. Don’t forget to give equal weight to digital books and physical books. Show that you are reading or rereading physical books that you have laying around the house or have borrowed.
  3. As you are teaching, showcase a variety of diverse texts: online articles, popular news stories, eBooks, etc. Students deserve to see themselves and a variety of experiences reflected. Representation matters! Choose a diverse set of texts and books to showcase. You can do this by accessing various webpages from which to pull examples. Choose to include passages from engaging eBooks in your lessons. Mention texts that are related to the units, etc. Ham it up as you would in the classroom – ooh and ahh a little over texts that might peak their interest.
  4. Remind your students of the platforms and options that they have access to through your school or district subscriptions. Post links to various district eReading platforms on your webpage, newsletter, or your LMS. Make sure that your students are aware of what they have access to. These are provided by and paid for by your district and they can use them, even virtually. Modeling is key, so make a point of routinely sharing your screen as you access and login to these platforms. Like adults, students sometimes forget how to access the multitude of resources. Make sure that they know their login credentials and take time to trouble shoot with them as needed.
  5. Offer support for struggling readers. Reading is fun, informative and a crucial part of the educational experience. Let’s make sure that our students who need supports have them. Make sure that your students know their Lexile Level or Reading Level. Model and encourage all students to check the Lexile level of a book. Illustrate how to filter eBook choices by reading level, etc. Show them how to choose books with audio functions. Remind them that they can add a Google Chrome Extension that will read web pages aloud, or that they can copy text into Microsoft’s Immersive Reader.

Tony Vincent

5 tips for teaching through video

Tony Vincent
Educator, Learning in Hand & Shapegrams

  1. Balance live and recorded video.
    If your lesson relies on class discussions and student participation, then live video is a good choice. However, there are advantages to pre-recorded video. Teachers can add relevant visuals and edit for brevity.
  2. Make eye contact.
    Connect with your students by making eye contact with the camera. You can raise your webcam to eye level by elevating it on a box or stack of books.
  3. Involve students.
    Invite students to contribute segments. They could pre-record content for inclusion in live or pre-recorded lessons.
  4. Make it enjoyable.
    Teasing content, hosting competitions, and including silly jokes and gags are some of the ways teachers can surprise and delight their students.
  5. Be yourself.
    Embrace your quirks and interests. Infuse what you love and what students love about you into your videos.

Dr. Desiree Alexander

5 Tips for Educator Survival During This Pandemic

Dr. Desiree Alexander
Founder CEO of Educator Alexander Consulting

  1. Do not compare yourself to other educators.
    We all have our own situations and success looks different for each educator. Do not compare yourself to others because you do not know their true situation or what success looks like for them. Focus on your own situation to find those little successes you can celebrate and celebrate them! Do it big! You are awesome!
  2. Give yourself grace.
    The same grace you give to other educators and to your students should be extended to yourself as well. This is not a normal situation for any of us so we should not be expected to treat it as normal.
  3. Practice self-care.
    I loved it when I heard self-care is not selfish from Tanya Chapman-Griffin. And it is true. It is not selfish to take care of yourself and put boundaries around your time. It does not mean you do not care. It simply means you are not a robot and need time to take care of yourself and your family/friends to ensure that you are the best version of yourself for your students and parents.
  4. Cry and grieve.
    It is OK to feel the way you feel whenever you feel it. It is also OK to grieve not having your students in person the way we used to (with no masks and distancing and such). It is a life change and it is OK to grieve that change.
  5. Laugh and celebrate.
    It is also OK to laugh, have fun and celebrate anything good happening. I have heard educators say they don't want to celebrate because they feel others may take it in the wrong way because they are hurting. Empathy is absolutely needed, but so is celebrating the good things happening in our lives. Your celebrations help others see there is light at the end of a tunnel and may be that thing to bring a smile to their face!

Brianna Hodges

4 Tips From an Ed Tech Expert

Brianna Hodges
National Advisor & Spokesperson, Future Ready Instructional Leaders

  1. Support = Solidarity.
    "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." — Coretta Scott King
    Glean pain point(s) of current instructional circumstance through conversations and empathy interviews. Center adjustments in practice to reflect valued strategies, and increase authenticity of purpose. How might you connect previous instructional priorities, strengths, and/or skills to current circumstances? How might you acknowledge concerns and assure action?
  2. Support = Significance.
    "We have someone's child. Or we have someone's wife. We have someone's husband. We have someone's grandchild. We have a social responsibility to use all tools available to enable success." — Fabiola Torres
    Convey genuine interest and learn about them and who they are beyond ‘educator’ — seek to understand and appreciate their culture and identity. Foster meaningful relationships and demonstrate value, respect, and concern. Whenever possible avoid minimizing worries, rushing conversations, and/or making light of stressors. How might you strengthen connections? What gestures, mannerisms, habits of practice, etc. do you feel indicate significance? How might you incorporate these elements into your interactions?
  3. Support = Safe Space.
    "What you are thinking, what shape your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all." — Willie Mays
    Offer an accessible time and space for authentic vulnerability. Provide a listening shoulder, refrain from judgement, discern the need to vent vs. the hope for help. How might you create an atmosphere of trust and allow others opportunities to process (thought and emotional) change and challenges?
  4. Support = Specific Priority.
    " If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there." — Yogi Berra
    Clarify and articulate specific instructional priorities (one to three, max). Placing emphasis on too many initiatives or haphazardly regrouping, renaming, or introducing initiatives confuses, dilutes, and, worse, undermines efforts. Reframe priorities from a focus of what or how (eg, move all instruction to Google Classroom, or create a hyflex environment) to a focus grounded in why (eg, We are committed to providing accessible content for all learners in ways that are most appropriate to their needs. Google Classroom lets us organize our instructional resources so that students can choose the content format best suited to their needs and circumstances.).

Jaime Donally

5 tips during remote learning/pandemic in education

Jaime Donally
Author, Speaker

  1. Innovation. Our students don't need another video lecture. We don't learn like that and they certainly need more than a completed class period of content. Bring a Merge Cube into your virtual or in class lessons to engage with hundreds of simulations and 3D content using the Explorer and Object Viewer App.
  2. Engagement. Get up and get moving in these augmented reality scavenger hunts. Students can capture 3D objects, answer questions and respond with pictures, videos or GIF’s. The potential in this app is enormous, and your students can play in class or at home using a mobile device.
  3. Creation. As if Minecraft didn’t already offer many creation opportunities for our students, they extended that content into augmented reality with Minecraft Earth. Not only are your students actively learning, but it encourages them to collect items around the community, while building alone or with another student. The unexpected adventures are an added bonus!
  4. Students Lead. Not only can students explore the world using Google Maps, they can now build virtual reality tours. The free website allows teachers and students to build experiences using 360 images from around the world. Let your students become the tour guides and demonstrate knowledge in an immersive tour.
  5. Collaborate. A new wave of virtual reality spaces are flooding in as classrooms and businesses have tried to adapt to remote settings. While virtual meeting spaces have been around for a little while, they’ve always lived on certain platforms, making it difficult for most people to join. With sites like Mozilla Hubs, students can join, collaborate, and create in virtual reality using most devices through the browser. We will see this new transition to virtual spaces more flexible and beneficial than typical video chats as the connections are more realistic.

Rachelle Dene Poth

5 tips for building relationships in remote learning

Rachelle Dene Poth
Spanish and STEAM Teacher, Edtech Consultant

  1. Set up consistent communication for connecting with students and their families. Be sure to keep families informed of class activities and set up office hours for students to ask questions and to support families during remote learning and throughout the year.
  2. Provide students with digital spaces to build their presence and exchange ideas with their teacher and peers. Explore some of the digital tools for blogging to promote student collaborations and build digital citizenship skills too.
  3. Check in with students and provide ways for them to check in with each other. Use tools for video responses to help students feel more connected to their classmates.
  4. Explore the options for creating a collaborative digital space where teachers and students interact through backchannel chats or a whiteboard space. Using these options can help students to feel more connected to the content and their classmates.
  5. Build a learning community by offering options for students to tell their story through the creation of video introductions, podcasts, or digital storytelling tools, or using sketchnotes.

Adam Phyall

5 Tips

Adam Phyall, III Ed.D
Director of Technology & Media Services, Newton County School System

  1. It's not the end of the world. Remember, things will go wrong, and many of them will be out of your control. As leaders, we want to think of all situations and prepare for them. Unfortunately, with virtual learning, we will have new problems that will interfere with teaching and learning. We can only control what we can control, and we have to be ready to pivot with these new problems arise.
  2. Give a break. As a leader, we often find ourselves with team members that will work non-stop until the job gets done. These team members will not tell you that they need to take a break, so as a leader, it is essential to recognize when you have to take something off of their plate or tell them to take a day off.
  3. Take a break. You are not useful to anyone if you burn yourself out. Working remotely has blurred the lines of home and work. This means that as a leader, you may find that you are on call 24-7. It is impossible to work at that rate without fizzling out. So, you have to find time to take time for yourself and your family.
  4. You Better Recognize! Stop and recognize individuals that are working hard behind the scenes. We often have people that are the "nuts and bolts" of the operation that hold things together. It can become easy to overlook the effort that these individuals are giving day in and day out. Make sure that you recognize the work that these unsung heroes are putting in.
  5. Remember your WHY. With everything going on and getting pulled in a million directions, it is easy to lose focus. Staying centered and remembering your WHY is essential to keeping your sanity as we navigate through the ever-changing landscape of this school year.

Chi Kim

5 Helpful Tips

Chi Kim
CEO Pure Edge, Inc.

  1. Taking care of yourself is the least selfish thing you can do.
  2. Nasal breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system.
  3. Your body is communicating with you. Notice what it’s saying.
  4. Simple breathe, move, and rest strategies make a big difference.
  5. Think of the 1:5 ratio - negative image/interaction - it will take 5 positive ones to get to neutral.

Eujon Anderson

5 Leadership tips
during remote learning

Eujon Anderson
District Technology Director, Troy City Schools, Troy, Alabama

  1. Establish routine checkups with teachers, parents, and students who are remote learning. Parents, students, and teachers should not feel as if they are alone with using technology for remote learning. Work with administrators to give opportunities for parents, teachers, and students to communicate with you about different technology trends and impact in learning.
  2. Stay current with resources on websites and social media. Establish an online presence using social media or a website. Keep support information, best practices, and tips updated and relevant for those who seek help.
  3. Share the resources that are most impactful; don't overdo it. When creating external resources for parents, teachers, and students, do not add too many. They are probably overwhelmed already. Keep all information, digital tools, and best practices simple and to the point.
  4. Keep a united front on the digital tools we use. Whether it's Google Classroom or Schoology, Zoom, or Google Meet, try your best to stick with tools that can fit the needs of all the students.
  5. Remember to be digital citizens. Digital Citizenship is extremely important during remote learning. The best way to teach this is by becoming models of proper internet usage for our teachers and students.
  6. Ongoing Professional Learning for everyone. Professional learning is critical to the success of everyone involved in remote learning. We need to redesign our strategies, methods, and schedules to offer professional learning strategies to make everyone feel at ease with a new way of learning.

Dr. Catlin Tucker

5 Tips

Dr. Catlin Tucker
Bestselling Author, International Trainer

  1. Embrace a “less is more” mentality.
  2. Prioritize relationships and make time to connect with students.
  3. Design learning experiences that give students a high degree of agency.
  4. Allow student curiosity to drive learning.
  5. Remember that we are ALL learning right now. Be patient with yourself.

Kristin & Joe Merrill

Five Remote Learning Tips

Kristin Merrill
Fourth Grade Teacher, co-author of “The InterACTIVE Class"

Joe Merrill
First Grade Teacher, co-author of “The InterACTIVE Class”

  1. Streamline as much as possible. Too many clicks = the student quits!
  2. Embed, embed, embed! Whenever possible, embed platforms into each other. Find an app that acts like a house and use it!
  3. Expect delays. You’ve thought through your lessons like a pro - but SOMETHING will go wrong with the infrastructure. Have a plan B, C, and D.
  4. Everything is slower! Understand this and don’t try to rush. It will only frustrate everyone involved.
  5. Keep the families at home informed about what is happening and what is coming up. They’re your best ally!

David Lockett

5 Tips for Incorporating STEM

David Lockett
Albert Einstein Fellow at NASA Office of STEM Engagement

  1. Accessibility. Make STEM accessible to all students. Empower students as agents in their own learning and teaching. Contribute to each student's engagement, learning, growth, and achievement through relevant conversations, activities, and engagements.
  2. Collaboration. Students must work together to advance class collectively. Student collaboration about STEM content is important for sense-making and provides students an opportunity to discuss observations and organize thinking.
  3. Engage. Allow students to explore their interests through meaningful and manageable STEM tasks and projects.Consider including time for independent work, synchronous, and asynchronous connections.
  4. Learn Together. Exchange helpful resources with each other. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for their help and expertise!
  5. Nurture. As educators during a pandemic, our work should enhance learning for students and their families. Encourage parental involvement with specific and manageable asks, which will vary by student age.

Hall Davidson

Tips for Leading Distance Learning

Hall Davidson
Senior Director, Global Learning, Discovery Education

  1. Continue celebrating! Teacher Celebration Week every week, alternating with Staff Celebration Week, birthdays, shout-outs from teacher-to-teacher. Gold stars and highlights. Celebrating failures that led to improvements. The importance of diversity!
  2. Digital recess! Don’t forget the non-instructional elements of school: Hat Days, virtual talent shows, virtual yearbook signings (Flipgrid), social interaction (Minecraft, Flipgrip, et al), student to student opportunities.
  3. Best time to meet the parents. Percentage of attendance at parent/teaching meetings historically high, contact every week, reach out to every home, digital kits for parents and family activities. The importance of simple phone calls. Reassurance and patience!
  4. Love, listen, then learn. The social-emotional element never more important. The whole child in the home learning environment becomes essential to address. Health comes first — for teachers and staff, too. Wellness Weeks, wellness checks, are exceptionally important. Onboard SEL counselors. Reassurance and patience with students and staff, too.
  5. Lean Into Families. This is not a time to say..."I told you our job was hard." They know. It doesn't need to be talked about. This is a time for us to say... "You didn't choose this and I am here to help in any way I can." We can create a tremendous amount of momentum with families if we lean into their needs right now.
  6. Distance leading for the site administrator. Becoming the Chief Learner. Joining classroom roster as student. Finding and hiring permanent substitute teachers. Watching the screen for teacher stress. Finding the resources people need. Importance of some physical site presence. Hotlines (some 24 hours!). Staff breakout rooms for (digital) faculty meetings.

Joe Sanfelippo

Tips for Working with Families

Joe Sanfelippo
Superintendent, Fall Creek School District

  1. Love Kids and Like Content. There has never been a better time to prove to families that we LOVE kids and LIKE content. When we start with questions like "Are you ok?" and "What can I do for you?" it gives parents a sense of calm in a time of uncertainty.
  2. It’s a trap! I love when there is a technological solution to problems. That said, introducing too many new tools can be hard for students (and their parents) - especially ones that haven’t used them before. They are not a vaccine or panacea and can actually make things worse if not used as prescribed. Limit the additional resources and tools you provide students to ensure that they are not lost in a digital wasteland. Also be consistent if the school has not provided a device, to ensure that the resource can be viewed on a mobile screen or older computer, etc.
  3. Start and End Your Day with Joy. Find something to start the day that gets you excited about the connection to kids. A book to the group, an individual meeting with a student, journal, exercise...whatever it is that makes you WANT to start the day in an environment where it can be hard to get the momentum rolling. End your day by making one positive connection. It puts you in the right mindset to be there for the ones you love AND it adds closure to your day.
  4. You Are Enough. No explanation. You are enough. Don't ever question that.
  5. Lean Into Families. This is not a time to say..."I told you our job was hard." They know. It doesn't need to be talked about. This is a time for us to say... "You didn't choose this and I am here to help in any way I can." We can create a tremendous amount of momentum with families if we lean into their needs right now.
  6. Take Care of Your Colleagues. Your colleagues have new colleagues. You can't go next door to see your fellow fifth-grade teacher and now your fellow fifth-grade teacher has a new set of colleagues at home. They could be 4, 8, 10, 19, and back from college and they all have needs too. Take care of your old colleagues by reaching out to their new ones to let them know how important they are. Your colleague feels better...their kids feel feel better. Win. Win. Win.

Dr. Randall Sampson

Tips for Curating The Learning Experience

Dr. Randall Sampson
Innovation Learning Specialist, Liberty Leadership Development

Adam Bellow

Tips for the Virtual Learning Model and More!

Adam Bellow
Co-Founder, Breakout EDU

  1. School is more than learning objectives. While we all know this, the rapid shift to a virtual-first learning model has many educators scrambling to cover the same amount and type of content that they would in their traditional classroom. One of the most important parts of school is socialization and peer connectedness which doesn’t translate easily to a digital environment. One of the things that I really appreciated was that my 3rd grade son's teacher suggested that he work with a student in the class as a pair and do a book study as well as some enrichment work. This allowed for some direct student-to-student interaction as well as the fact that the class was scaffolding for work ability even in this environment where doing so seemed difficult.
  2. It’s a trap! I love when there is a technological solution to problems. That said, introducing too many new tools can be hard for students (and their parents) - especially ones that haven’t used them before. They are not a vaccine or panacea and can actually make things worse if not used as prescribed. Limit the additional resources and tools you provide students to ensure that they are not lost in a digital wasteland. Also be consistent if the school has not provided a device, to ensure that the resource can be viewed on a mobile screen or older computer, etc.
  3. It’s time to learn something new. This experience has been difficult for so many of us - both the adults and the kids. That said, I feel as though it also brings an opportunity with it as well. Most schools have made the wise decision to not fully replicate the complete school day in front of the computer screen. That leaves the gift and challenge of time for many students - and their parents. I see the opportunity in creating passion based objectives for students of all ages here. There is now time for them to become experts as something that they are passionate about. My own kids have been immersed in learning to touch type, they are working hard at a passion project to develop a mobile app, they have even spent a little more time in the yard learning to ride a bike, becoming better at drawing, and discovering the love of reading for fun.
  4. Support and Forgive. Even in the best of circumstances, these changes have had impacts on students. Whether it is fear of getting sick or having someone they love get sick or just basic fears about losing school - which is the basic stability for too many children in the country. It’s easy to be binary in an online world because that’s how digital works. Students can more easily fall through the cracks when they don’t show up or complete an assignment. I think one of the hardest thing for teachers to do right now is to adapt to and continue to provide support when the struggles are largely unseen. Since the virtual instruction of the school day for many teachers is shorter, it would be great if there were smaller meetings or personal connections throughout the week with students. It definitely adds to the workload, especially for teachers with multiple classes - but it is so helpful for students to get the one-on-one time that they crave from a teacher. My son did a few FaceTime calls with his teacher throughout the last few months. It was the highlight of the week usually to get some personalized feedback on his writing work and to have a few minutes to share with his teachers what he has been up to and how he is doing.
  5. Remember to have Fun. There is no denying the serious times we are surrounded by. Students pick up a lot of this from the media or their parents or just sense that something is going on that is different. My advice to ensure that school not only supports students academically, but also helps provide them some fun. From playing a game together online to ensuring a few minutes of class to chat with friends or ask about the day before/weekend, etc. - These are all parts of the day that not being in school has taken away. It’s important to layer in some fun with the learning, especially with the serious tone of the world surrounding the world.

Shannon Miller

Quick Tips for Library Media Specialists

Shannon Miller
Teacher Librarian, Future Ready Librarians; Project Connect Spokesperson, The Library Voice

  1. Don’t wait and ask what you can do. Just start doing.
  2. Communication is key. Stay connected to each other and to students, families, teachers and your communities through video meet-ups, emails, phone calls, texts and other creative ways.
  3. Be creative and flexible.
  4. Build in the amazing resources, ideas and projects you already have in place. Think about how to make them work in a virtual learning environment.
  5. And the best advice I have right now as we are in the summer months…Take some time for yourself and your family every day. You are all doing incredible and inspiration work. YOU deserve time for you too.

  1. Provide choice: Allow students to choose the activities that are of interest to them. We have a unique opportunity to leverage student choice and help students find and nurture a passion for learning.
  2. Keep it simple: People are finding it difficult to navigate all the new technology thrown at them. Use platforms that students are familiar with and consistent through your schools. Our district uses Google Classroom which now has google meet directly integrated making it easy for students to join live sessions right from classroom. Prior to being home my students were already accustomed to submitting their quests through classcraft so the transition was fairly smooth.
  3. Build community among your students in class and extracurricular activities: While I do believe that we must keep things simple, I also think it important to meet students in spaces that are a 'third place' (now 'second place'). Examples include discord as many students are comfortable in that environment. I was especially successful in using discord to keep my game club connected as it is the go to platform used regularly by gamers. Many gameclub students felt more connected with each other during this time as they had the potential for more persistent communication and connection. Class meetings / office hours have also helped to build community. Office hours served as a space for students to connect with their teachers as well as their peers. This was especially important to help avoid isolation.
  4. Make activities meaningful and relevant: Everyone is impacted by Covid-19. One of the projects we launched was a worldwide series of Minecraft Build Challenges related to the theme of Covid-19. Many teachers adopted this project and it was also open to anyone who wanted to participate. Minecraft was used in many ways during the pandemic and this is just one example. It allowed for students to learn relevant meaningful content while using a tool that they really enjoyed. It also served to address SEL and other skills to provide meaning and an outlet for students. Another set of build challenges we launched with NASEF (The North America Scholastic Esports Federation) was the Minecraft Faceoff in partnership with the Anaheim Ducks and other professional hockey teams. This provided an opportunity for fanst to apply valuable problem solving skills in minecraft while connecting with sports while live sporting events were on hold. I heard many great stories from other educators about how this situation provided a great opportunity to leverage the power of games while engaging students in meaningful activities.
  5. Celebrate the accomplishments: My students publish their work in a number of ways. Throughout their process and as a culminating activity for many of their 'quests', they submit a blog post to share their work with an authentic audience. Likewise, when they published their final projects (games, minecraft worlds, etc.) they would do so in a public facing way so others could download and play them. When projects are especially good I like to amplify the student work by tweeting links to their blog posts and games. This provides a global audience to experience their projects and celebrate the accomplishments with us. Students love when we amplify their work and share the great work they are doing. We also celebrated our accomplishments among ourselves. During online class and office hours we would devote time to testing each other's games and providing feedback throughout the process and play the final games upon completion. These are things that we do during class in school but it was an easy way to maintain a sense of normalcy from home and still share our accomplishments.
Neil Gupta, Ed.D.

Design Thinking Principles

Neil Gupta, Ed.D.
Director of Secondary Education, Worthington School District

  1. Engage with Empathy. Regardless of what needs to happen, engage in empathy experiences to understand how decisions will be received and impact staff, parents, students, and the community. Too often, decisions are made in the best interest of a single group or with assumptions in knowing the impact of others, without really spending the time to find out. Create systems to gather input, feedback, and advice from various groups, and consider the impact on multiple subgroups within each one and throughout the process. For example, consider the impact from an equity standpoint by thinking about and engaging the special education, English Limited, and low socio-economic subgroups.
  2. Define the Needs. Don't rush the need to truly understand what your needs are and ensure clarity among your team in what everything means. Too often, we get caught up in going straight to the work only to find frustration of not understanding the goal, the parameters, and the workflow. Investing time ensuring clarity at the beginning minimizes frustration and confusion later.
  3. Challenge the Process. Allow time and space to challenge thinking, assumptions, and beliefs. Sometimes, questions are perceived as negative. Foster the questioning process with question stems, such as "How might we..." or "What if...". Pause to allow team members to share their hopes, fears, and dreams to elicit insight. And, encourage collegial dialogue to push past the ways things are usually done.
  4. Ideate for Innovation. Establish challenges for teams to (co-)create in the development of solutions. Bring people from different points of view, including cooks, custodians, bus drivers, parents, teachers, principals, administrative assistants, and even students. Provide different mindsets by having them approach situations from a different perspective in different fields, such as: Tesla, Amazon, Google, Netflix, Apple, AirBnB, or Uber.
  5. Prototype for Success. Many times, we establish plans that plan and then implement. Break up your timelines to incorporate small pilots or prototypes to test initiatives. Then, give yourselves and the team time and space to reflect, review, gather feedback, and improve the initiative as it scales up. Don't lock yourself into a plan that can't be changed by fostering the spirit and attitude of flexibility.

Thomas Murray

Tips for Education Leaders

Thomas Murray
Director of Innovation, Future Ready Schools

  1. Lead with Empathy. It's imperative to remember that many of your students may have very different life experiences than you do. Things you take for granted may be things your students long for at home. Teacher empathy is key to remote learning success.
  2. Lead with Equity. Equity in opportunity and equity in access have been brought into the spotlight; something that has been long overdue. As a teacher, show grace and flexibility for your students that may not have connectivity at home or have limited bandwidth due to shared devices and connectivity. Ensure that children that don't have these essentials at home are always a priority.
  3. Lead with Heart. "Social distancing" is the worst and most inaccurate phrase of this pandemic. Physical distancing makes sense, but we need to be more social and provide more opportunities for connections than ever before. Just like in a face-to-face classroom, social-emotional learning must remain at the core, so too is the case during remote learning. So, make time for students to connect informally, both with you and with their peers.
  4. Don't Forget About Privacy. The more we go digital, the more student data privacy has to be kept at the forefront. Digital tools are great, but we simultaneously must adhere to COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Bottom line: If you're not sure, ask! Your tech director and principal can be great privacy resources here.
  5. Take care of YOU! Educators are those people that give and give and give, often until they have nothing left. Doing "whatever it takes for kids" does not mean that you run over yourself in the process. Taking care of you is not selfish, it's needed. Besides, you work hard. You deserve it!

Jacie Maslyk

5 Quick Tips For Self-Care

Jacie Maslyk
Assistant Superintendent, Hopewell Area School District

  1. Find Balance — During this challenging time it is easy to become overwhelmed by all that is happening or by all that is on your to-do list. Find balance between family, work, and personal time, ensuring that each gets attention in a way that creates a positive balance in your life. Schedule time within your day that creates a balance of tasks and responsibilities.
  2. Get Outside — Spending the day in Zoom meetings, responding to emails, or on the phone may mean that you are stuck inside a lot. Be intentional about getting outside for at least a few minutes during different parts of the day. A little fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mood and personal well-being.
  3. Stay Connected — Remaining connected to our colleagues, students, and school community are important during this time, but don’t forget about the importance of your own personal connections. Call an old friend, chat with a next-door neighbor, or FaceTime with the grandparents. Keep a personal connection to all of the people who matter.
  4. Time Out — Know that there may be times that you just need to walk away. From the computer, your kids, your spouse, your boss! It is OK to give yourself a time out to find clarity, take a breath, and refocus yourself on the task at hand.
  5. Be You — Don’t lose sight of yourself amid the stressors you may be experiencing. If you enjoy running, go for a run. If you like baking, whip up something delicious. If gardening is your thing, plant some flowers. Do whatever it is that makes you feel like your best self. You will be better for others when you take time to nurture you!

John Meehan

Tips for Online Learning

John Meehan
Instructional Coach, Bishop O’Connell High School

    Are you checking in with your students regularly? Or have you simply been reduced to a faceless funnel of new curriculum? Emails. Zoom calls. Google Voice. Text alerts. Those little check ins just to say hi can offer a great deal of reassurance in a challenging time. Even if the average student doesn't quite make it through every last page of The Great Gatsby.
    Robots can beat us in the efficiency department. And they never ask for a raise, a meal, or a bathroom break. Remember to maintain your humanity in this time away from school! And recognize the inherent dignity of the human person that is each of your students. Students learn better from teachers who treat them like people.
    Many of our students are frightened. And they look to adult role models in challenging times. But that doesn't mean teachers have to take themselves so seriously! Something as simple as a Bitmoji in a slide deck, a funny t-shirt, or a goofy background in a teleconference can go a long way in helping a student maintain a sense of normalcy even in the middle of a crisis.
    Did you binge watch Tiger King in one sitting? Or did you space out all its wacky trainwreck TV across several days’ worth of viewing? If Netflix can get the entire world talking about Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic no matter when we watched the show, then there's no reason why your distance learning plan can't allow for flexible deadlines and the ability to "binge learn" at a student's leisure within a given window.
    Please stop telling students everything is due at a certain time with “zero excuses” for late work because we’re all magically supposed to have adjusted to the new normal by now. Grownups are literally deferring their monthly mortgage payments. Your worksheet can wait.

Matthew Joseph

Tips for Online Learning

Matthew Joseph
Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Leicester Public Schools

  1. Establish communication among administrators, staff, parents, and students. Methods of communication should be frequent, clear, and consistent. Leaders should prepare an FAQ outlining how the school will operate during the extended closure, so staff and parents are on the same page, and teachers do the same for families.
  2. Determine a daily schedule. Expectations should be clear about when students need to be learning online, and when teachers are online for support. Expecting students and teachers to be connected all day is unrealistic. Create a consistent schedule with two check-in times (morning and afternoon), for instance.
  3. Less is more. In a rush to develop e-learning plans, leaders will often look at availability, not impact. It is more important to examine how teachers want to teach and what is out there to match instruction and student learning than using what is available. There is a flood of tools out there, and schools can easily get lost. Leaders must select a few tools that fit their platforms and learners.
  4. Set expectations. Shift your mindset from “I hope I can be successful as a remote teacher” to “I am going to be successful as a remote teacher.” Hope is not a strategy. As educators, set a time to establish clearly defined goals for students and turn the hope of success into achievement.
  5. Meet educators or students where they are. Often, online meetings or virtual teaching sessions move too fast because a presenter or teacher assumes participants/students know the basics. Everyone has a different ability level. When preparing any session, be mindful of the ability level of the participants. Limit topics for each virtual session to just one new skill or topic per session, so participants leave feeling empowered, not overwhelmed.

Ryan Schaaf

Top 5 Quick Tips

Ryan Schaaf
Associate Professor of Educational Technology, Notre Dame of Maryland University

  1. Learning with Digital Games: A Guide for Educators and Parents during the COVID-19 Crisis is a free guide that will provide educators and parents with over 40 learning games and ten learning game hubs to supplement instruction for learners during the pandemic.
  2. Globally, over 2 billion people play digital games. They are highly-interactive, engaging, and fun. There is a growing body of research that supports that players can learn through gameplay.
  3. Digital learning games are available and can help both parents and educators provide academic experiences for learners, while schools are closed.
  4. Each game entry in the guide provides the title of a game, its suggested age range for players, a game description, and the academic content covered in gameplay.
  5. Gameplay for learners may include independent play, where children are simply learning as they play. Some games may require support and guidance from parents or educators.


Leslie Fisher

5 Gadgets to Help you with Remote Learning

Leslie Fisher
Leslie Fisher, Director,

  1. Lume Cube: Lighting so bright you can actually bounce it off a wall or ceiling instead of it having it hit your noggin. Allows you to control light levels from you mobile device and enhance how you look while in your virtual meetings.
  2. iPevo: Offers high quality wired and wireless document cameras with accompanying software that does everything from time lapse, zoom, brightness, OCR and so much more. Website includes tips on how to use their devices for remote learning as well as with a multitude of popular online meeting platforms.
  3. Think Board: Dry erase plastic sheets that you can peel and stick onto tables, walls, etc. Easily removable and can be applied again and again. Perfect for placing a sheet on your work table, pointing a document camera at it and scribbling away for others to see virtually.
  4. iCloth: Handy little cleaning cloths I have been using for years. Cleans your devices of grime without streaks. I use it now more than ever on my iPhone.
  5. Snap Camera: If you heard about the principal logging into a meeting as a potato and not knowing why you can blame this free application that gives you the ability to access snapchat filters for free from your Mac or PC.

Monica Burns

Tips to Support Families with Online Learning

Monica Burns
EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, Class Tech Tips, LLC

  1. Lean into the workflows students and families are already familiar with as best as you can. If you’ve already used Seesaw, Microsoft Teams, or Google Classroom, commit to these instead of trying something new.
  2. To support students and families as you implement online learning, use your established communication channels (email, mailed newsletters, social media, apps like Remind and Class Dojo) to share resources and make recommendations.
  3. Include a “how” with any free resources you share with families. For example, if you send a link to a collection read aloud videos like StorylineOnline to families, include some tips for how to use those videos with students.
  4. Think weekly in addition to daily. Families with a variety of obligations might find it easier to support their children with weekly academic goals than daily goals for submitting work or completing activities.
  5. Provide space for families to ask questions or request support for resources. Although a community group may be useful at times, you may find that families are more likely to complete a Google Form with a request, than posting it in a public Facebook group.

Kyle Steele

Student First Strategies

Kyle Steele
Founder and CEO, Learn Jelly, Inc.; Program Director, Rally Social Enterprise Accelerator; Managing Partner, CREDO Conduit

  1. Do Not Fear
    Do not cuddle your fear or anxiety because you will never experience the power of these strange times staying in the shallows where it’s secure, where you can touch the bottom. Use these times to coax yourself into the deep by trying new things, experimenting with new methods, or pushing past the traditional. Yes, these are strange times and things can feel uncertain and unfamiliar but do not fear because we have each other and we’re all in it together. For in time, our students and community will reap a rich harvest if we fight to go deep.
  2. Turn Your School Into A Hotspot
    As we move to deliver educational content virtually, we must remember that a digital divide still exists. As a result of economic circumstances or living location, a significant number of students have either no or limited access to the internet. Therefore, allow students to access the school's internet via WiFi during designated hours from designated outside areas, such as parking lots. Additionally, have school personnel or security staff actively monitor the adherence of prescribed rules and ensure the security of students.
  3. Upload Downloadable Lessons To YouTube
    Have teachers record classroom sessions on their mobile devices, Zoom or other platforms of choice and then upload them to Youtube. Ensure that the videos can be downloaded by viewers. Once again, we have to assume students have various levels of internet access therefore, by making videos downloadable, we give students the ability to access the content offline 24/7.
  4. Low-Tech First
    When creating education delivery plans, keep low-tech options at the center of discussions and solutions. With everyone being ordered to stay at home, the competition to use available devices within the family unit has substantially increased. Therefore, educators should find and deploy low-tech options to deliver and present content. The reality is that printing out assignments, bundling them up for students, mailing them weekly, and providing return postage could be the new norm, at least for the foreseeable future.
  5. Lean On The Community
    No one has to go at this alone. People and organizations all across the education community are lending and providing support. Services providers are reducing or eliminating the cost to access the internet, online content, and other important resources. Additionally, frontline educators are providing free virtual sessions that expose other learning guardians to new activities and lessons for students. Lean on the Future of Education Technology Conference and other trusted folks who can point you to credible resources and mobilize an army of teachers and thought leaders who are ready to help you. Remember, now more than ever, that our lives and work will always get better when we come alongside each other!

Eric Sheninger

Remote Learning 101

Eric Sheninger
Associate Partner, International Center for Leadership in Education

Kasey Bell

Top 5 Quick Tips

Kasey Bell
Learning Coach and Author, Shake Up Learning

  1. Grace is Greater Than Grades
  2. Prioritize Emotional Needs
  3. Choose a Platform and Stick with It!
  4. Offline Activities are Just as Important as Online
  5. Reduce Work by at Least Half

Rushton Hurley

Insights for school district administrators

Rushton Hurley
Founder and Executive Director, Next Vista for Learning

  1. Convey your faith that students and teachers can live up to this challenge.
    In our world at the moment, figuring out how to teach and learn effectively is hard. However, given the tools and information resources that are now available, the members of your community who push themselves will learn things that will make them stronger for the rest of their lives.
  2. Draw upon the talents of your team.
    Each member of your team has talents, but when things are easy and formulaic, many of those talents go unseen. Reach out to everyone - teachers, staff, students, families - and ask what they can do now that they couldn't a week ago, and what they are learning about themselves.
  3. Build a culture of creative exploration.
    People will judge themselves against the speed at which others learn, but foster a joy in figuring things out together. If your teachers can do this with each other, their students will be much more likely to have chances to discover new things in themselves.
  4. Seek and share stories of success.
    There are stories at your school as people grapple with this crisis. Stories of students who discover confidence and ability, of staff members who contribute in unexpected ways, and of teachers who keep building on what was already strong. These are the stories that will define your school for a generation. Document and celebrate them, and know that it has never been easier to create compelling visual stories to inspire others.
  5. Know that heroes are those who choose an honorable path, even when it is difficult to do so.
    Some in your community will complain about the extra work and the changes now required of them. It is easy to give them a pass, but know such gratitude is temporary. Stay strong, help them see strength in themselves, and you will have done what is right.

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