October 30, 2020

Teachers share practical tips for hybrid instruction

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source:  NYUST Communications
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blended and hybrid learning

MORE SESSIONS AVAILABLE! By popular demand, NYSUT's Educational & Learning Trust has scheduled a second round of webinars on blended and hybrid instruction Nov. 19 and Dec. 1. Learn more and register online at nysut.org/hybrid.


While there’s no magic answer key for teaching in today’s blended/hybrid learning environment, a panel of experienced educators shared a variety of practical tips to help curb the chaos.

From turning off emails to using microphones and subtitles, panelists featured in the union’s new one-hour webinar on hybrid/blended learning said it’s crucial for teachers to lean on each other and share resources to make the daily instructional load a little less challenging. Keep it simple and your objectives more manageable.

 “Some days are more about survival than academic achievement,” said panelist Kurt Hassenpflug, an ELA/ENL teacher and North Colonie Teachers Association member. “I feel more like Sisyphus than Hercules.”

NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said Thursday night’s free webinar was the first in a two-part online series sponsored by NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust. “You told us what you needed and we’ve heard you loud and clear,” DiBrango said, as she welcomed hundreds of teachers from around the state. When the first session quickly filled to capacity, the union added a second round Nov. 19 and Dec. 1.

In the first session, “Preparing to Balance it All,” panelists discussed how they have adapted their planning to weave structure and routines into a chaotic day, lessons they learned from experimenting with technology and simple actions they are taking to get through each day.

Presenter Kira Martelli, a sixth-grade teacher and Massapequa Federation of Teachers member, offered tips on staying mobile, such as using an apron, a backpack and a cart. Stick-on big chart paper is invaluable for teachers traveling from classroom to classroom.


Preparing to Balance it All. In the first of two sessions, educators on the panel discussed how they adapted their planning and pre-instructional processes to weave structure and routines into a chaotic day, what valuable lessons they learned from experimenting with technology, and what actions they are taking to get through each day.

Presenter Kira Martelli, a sixth-grade teacher and Massapequa Federation of Teachers member, offered tips on staying mobile, such as using an apron, a backpack and a cart. Stick-on big chart paper is invaluable for teachers traveling from classroom to classroom.

To keep things sane, Martelli suggested teachers share instructional materials and “always have a lesson plan in your back pocket” just in case. “We are in a blended model and we always have to be ready to go (fully) remote with less than 12 hours notice,” Martelli said. “That’s happened three times since September.”

To get out in front of that, “Wait, what are we doing?” constant question during instruction, Hassenpflug suggested a multi-modal approach, including subtitles, images and multiple screens. If you are doing breakout rooms, give clear instructions on what’s expected. Be careful trying out new platforms with the whole class — pilot it with small groups first.

Hassenpflug also urged participants to work through their union to advocate for training and raise concerns. “Know your contract,” he said.

 Newburgh TA’s Kathleen Young, a physical education teacher, said it’s important to keep social-emotional needs front and center. “Turn off emails at the end of the day. Set alarms for start and finish times,” she said. “Be patient with yourself and the students.”

During a question and answer period, participants talked about the importance of informing parents if students aren’t working, keeping grades up to date and ensuring school counselors are in the loop. They also shared resources like loom.com for making simple how-to videos, Pinterest and the Teachers Pay Teachers website.

An online chat during the session included everything from comments on teacher evaluations to suggestions for escapist movies and T.V. series like Schitt’s Creek.

Others offered praise for the session. “This was incredibly encouraging and full of very practical information,” posted one. “It is so necessary to connect this way,” wrote another.

“Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to educate your students, to attend to their social and emotional wellbeing … and to keep one another going during this pandemic,” DiBrango said. “Your union has your back.” She urged participants to look into other ELT courses and seminars — and to suggest any other professional learning needs.

More sessions to come

The second session for the hybrid/remote learning series, “Instruction, Assessment and Now What?” will be 5–6 p.m. Nov. 12. Panelists will share suggestions for engaging assignments and purposeful formative assessments, trouble shooting technology and modifying instruction for different learners.

The second round will be 5–6 p.m. Nov. 19 and Dec. 1.

For more information and to register, go to nysut.org/hybrid.

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