Facilitating in-person professional learning is exhilarating. The nervousness and excitement in the room are almost palpable. As we immerse ourselves and our participants in the topic at hand, the anxiety slips away and the enthusiasm grows. We make meaningful connections to the content and each other, and we all walk away feeling more confident.
Then COVID-19 hit and stopped us in our tracks. Our ability to travel became limited or nonexistent. Schools closed and moved to remote learning, including the district where we work. While there was still a need for professional learning in the virtual space (perhaps even more so!), it was difficult to imagine how we would adjust for the “new normal.” For us, we were entering uncharted territory.
Here are a few of the strategies we have implemented over the past several months to navigate and prepare for virtual facilitation.
Explore new tools for engagement.
As educators, we understand how important it is to be flexible and responsive to the situation in front of us. The virtual space requires us to navigate technology in new and different ways. This may involve purchasing new equipment or using existing equipment in a different manner.
- For example, we now use dual monitors to facilitate professional learning sessions online. One screen is primarily used for the presentation and participant-facing components, while the other is for facilitator-facing items such as slide deck notes and access to the other tools being used to boost participant engagement.