Classroom Management

Leaving Tech Behind This Fall (Ep. 278)

As we look to this fall and the start of the school year, it is important to reflect on what we can do differently in the upcoming year and how we can take advantage of new opportunities. In today’s episode, Lindsey Moss joins Tim to share some of her thoughts on the coming year. Listen as they discuss how she is rethinking her classroom, her concerns with her students, and why she is leaving tech behind this fall.  Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for Art teachers. This show is produced by the Art of Education University. And I’m your host, Tim Bogatz.

We had a thrilling NOW Conference last week, and I think we were able to put together a great day of learning for all the teachers that attended. So if you came into that, thank you for joining us. I hope it was worth your time. I hope it was worth your while and I hope you have some inspiration and some good ideas for the upcoming school year. And speaking, unfortunately for the upcoming school year the end of the Summer NOW Conference always marks the time for me that we kind of quit thinking about summer and start focusing on the new school year.

Now for a lot of you, I know the start of the school year is not on your mind yet, and you want to keep it that way. In response, I would tell you two things. Number one, a lot of your teaching friends, especially in the South and in parts of the Midwest are back in school already. They’re doing their PD days this week, maybe even having kids in their classroom this week or next.

And number two, you will eventually want to listen to this episode. You don’t have to do it today. If you need to keep your summer as your summer and not worry about the next school year yet, that’s fine. I understand. But this episode will still be hanging around three weeks from now or a month from now, but you will want to listen to it. I mean, we’ll be bringing Lindsey Moss on the show and we have a lot to discuss in regard to the year that, that we’re going to be facing. Now, the thing that kind of intrigues me, the idea that Lindsey first told me about when we are deciding on podcast topics is about how she’s going to try to keep tech out of her students’ hands this fall.

Which I think is a really good idea. You know, we’ll see exactly where the conversation takes us. But the idea of stepping away from tech reminds me of a podcast idea, which we did that probably three years ago on doing a digital detox. I was with my friend, Gina Stukenholtz. She offered to get kids’ smartphones out of their hands and the benefits that she saw when she did that word, nothing short of incredible. So if you want to explore that idea a little bit further after you’re done listening here, we’ll link that podcast in the show notes, but I don’t want to limit our conversation to just that idea. I think Lindsey has a lot more to talk about. So let me go ahead and bring her on now.

Lindsey Moss is back on the show, joining me now, Lindsey, how are you?

Lindsey: I’m good. How are you Tim?

Tim: I am great. Let’s just start with this. You survived the last school year.

Lindsey: Barely, but yes, I’m alive.

Tim: Okay. So you survived teaching in the pandemic and the drive-thru Art show that you put together that we talked about and just all of the craziness of the past year and now like you’ve reached the summertime. So like really, how are you? And how summer going for you?

Lindsey: Good. It feels like it was a year and a half marathon really. Right?

Tim: That sounds about right.

Lindsey: Then I felt I was doing just fine. And then I got done with some art ed stuff and I just fell off the grid for about a week. I was just reading, spending time with my kids, trying to recharge. I think we’re tired in ways we haven’t totally identified yet. And I think that’s going to keep cropping up. How about you?

Tim: Same. Shepherding my own kids through the pandemic is not anything I ever want to do again.

Lindsey: Great.

Tim: And like you said, I felt like I was doing well. And then I had one particularly busy month and I got through it. And then I felt something had broken to be honest.

Lindsey: Yeah.

Tim: I’m like, oh, something’s wrong. I don’t know what it is. Like you said, you can’t identify, where you can’t put words to everything. But you know, something’s not right?

Lindsey: Yeah.

Tim: And so it’s weird just trying to, I guess, work my way through that.

Lindsey: I don’t know how long we’re going to feel like that. That’s going to be interesting-

Tim: That’s the other question.

Lindsey: If this is done or if like three months from now. I don’t know what the long-term effects of having lived through this are going to be-

Tim: No, nobody knows what that is. And it’s a curiosity. It’s a worry, but I think the more we can talk about it and the more we can share our experiences, I think the better we’re all going to be for that. So, and I guess we’ve talked a little bit about this, but now we’re going to do it on the microphone, but I know you started thinking about, I guess changes for the next school year and like what’s going to happen during the upcoming year. The big one that you were telling me about is just sort of stepping away from technology, like not having tech in the hands of your students. So, I guess can you just kind of walk me through your thinking here? Like what you want to do with that?

Lindsey: It is not something I ever thought I would say 18 months ago, right? I don’t know. I feel, not to be Pollyanna about it, but anytime something really terrible happens there’s always upside to, right? And so I’m not trying to say there is an upside to the pandemic at all. That’s not what I’m saying. But for me it feels… This is my man I don’t know, 17th or 18th year teaching, I don’t know, been a long time. Anyway and it feels like a weird chance to pause and say no to some things or kind of regroup and do some things differently. Because after a year and a half of not normal, I feel we have this brief time period where we can kind of take the reins and change the direction we were steering. Right? So pre-pandemic, I was doing kind of a lot of tech, not so much tech for art making, but tech for process documentation.

Tim: Right.

Lindsey: So my kids, we were part of a pilot in our district where they were trying to infuse more technology. And that was I feel pre-pandemic, the call, more tech, more tech all the time, any way you can get it in your classroom. And the Holy Grail seemed to kind of be tech for individualized instruction so that kids could have sort of self-pacing and everything. Well anyway, the way that was sort of manifesting itself in my room, we were using Seesaw and they had the school district installed a huge TV at the back of my room. And so we were monitoring the Seesaw feed and it was really cool. Kids were taking process photos and then throwing it up on the TV, so they could see throughout class the different processes that were going on at the different tables. And it’s really kind of cool collaborative atmosphere where kids were sharing. So then the pandemic hits, right? And so Seesaw became one of the platforms that my district was using for kids to consume everything from home for that spring-

Tim: I would say for instruction and all of that is done through Seesaw?

Lindsey: Yeah. I mean people were still doing, we were required to do live instruction. And so were their teachers. So there was Zooming and stuff. But then, they were using Seesaw to post work artifacts for all kinds of subjects.

Tim: Okay.

Lindsey: And then, and then more. Because then my own kids, I’m a mom, I have a wow, about to be sixth grader, which is shocking. And then it’s humble-

Tim: I have an eighth-grader and sixth-grader this year. So I’m feeling old. I know where you’re coming from you know.

Lindsey: Yeah, I’m traumatized that she’s going to go to middle school next year. But anyway, so I was watching them in the spring when we were under full lockdown. And so now all of a sudden there were math platforms and language arts platforms and everything was gamified.

Tim: Yes.

Lindsey: And my kids, I felt their skin looked weird from the glow of the… Did this happen to your kids too?

Tim: The glow of the screen constantly. Yes and no. My wife and I were actually kind of concerned about too much tech.

Lindsey: That’s what I meant, yeah.

Tim: And so what we did is we made a list for each subject that our kids could do as an alternative to their Zoom class or their tech lesson or whatever. And just say, “Hey, if you feel like you’re on the screen too much, just step away, go out on the back deck and read the social studies book, or do these math problems. Or even get off the screen and do a Sudoku.” And that counted for math. And that was just fine-

Lindsey: So your district did that? Or, you just provided that as a parent?

Tim: No, just as a parenting thing. Our district did lots of good online instruction for our kids, but like you said, it gets to be too much. And so we felt we needed to give our kids some alternatives and smelling chance.

Lindsey: That was smart.

Tim: So, basically long way of me saying, I know where you’re coming from. I know that the tech can get overwhelming and it can be way too much for our kids.

Lindsey: Right. So we were fully quarantined in the spring, but then last fall, we went back in person. And since I was teaching in person, my kids went back in person and we lost the Art room. It became a Quarantine room. I was on a cart. So I was pushing in to each individual classroom. So I feel walking through the halls, it’s like all of a sudden, because of the pandemic, the tech immersion that I feel was being pushed on us as educators, the Holy Grail of every kid with a device, every kid’s got… It happened and at first I feel the kids were pretty engaged because tech is very engaging-

Tim: Especially when you gamify everything.

Lindsey: Oh yeah. Then after a while, I think they started to not enjoy it. It was too much screen time. And the novelty that is learning something through a tech platform, wasn’t so great anymore.

Tim: Yeah, it becomes a grind.

Lindsey: And so there were actually times where I would come into a classroom with the cart and the kids would be, “Put away the Chromebooks, Moss is here.” Because they weren’t really excited for content that wasn’t tech-based.

Tim: Yeah. Or just even to work with their hands on something, instead of just working on the screen.

Lindsey: Yes, absolutely. And so, I am just really rethinking… Well, first of all, I don’t know what the fall is going to look like. I don’t know. I’m in Illinois and we’re fully reopened as of two weeks ago. But I don’t know if that’s going to mean that I am on a cart or if they still need a Quarantine room. Who knows what’s going to happen. They keep talking about all these variants of the virus. I don’t know. But I’m really rethinking what I do in the fall. And I feel like just as a mom and an educator, if I can be the place in the curriculum where there is a digital detox, I am going to intentionally do that. And so that is not to say, I’m not going to still use tech to present content.

I’ll still use my document camera so the kids in the back can see what I’m doing for a demo or whatever. And we do some really cool stop motion projects that involve some tech. But other than that, I’m really looking I think this fall to get actual materials in my kids’ hands for the maximum amount of time. I think they’re going to come back to us with some social, emotional deficits. I think there’s going to be, at a certain level a lot of these kids have been through trauma, they really have.

Tim: Yeah. Absolutely.

Lindsey: And I think that the best way to help them cope is not another 40 minutes on a computer. So I’m not even going to have them bring their Chromebooks till Christmas.

Tim: Yeah. I think that’s a great, great idea. So do you think or do you foresee that there might be some pushback either from your district or from your parents? If they get word that, “Oh no, Ms. Moss won’t let us use our Chromebooks or there’s no tech in the arm.” Do you think there’s going to be any kind of pushback against them?

Lindsey: That’s interesting. I mean I’m not saying that I’m going to give up tech forever. I’m just saying that for right now, I see a need for my kids. And what I think is best for them is this detox, like I said. I actually think we’re going to see a weird pushback in all of that. Because I think for the last decade, there’s been this emphasis on finding the money to put tech in everybody’s hands. And I think you mentioned how you as a parent were concerned. And I think we’re going to see a groundswell of that over the next couple of years. Just because you can do something or you did because of the pandemic doesn’t mean that now we’ve seen it in practice, that it’s really, what is best for kids?

Tim: I was just going to say it doesn’t mean it’s best practices just because it worked then, doesn’t mean it’s okay.

Lindsey: Absolutely. And I suspect we’re going to start hearing more and more from parents who are concerned about the tech consumption. And so I don’t expect to have a lot of parents pushback this fall. And I think that as things hopefully normalize, maybe we’ll get some normalized equilibrium with tech in my classroom too. But like I said for now, no.

Tim: Yeah. Okay. So the next thing I’m thinking about, and I feel this might be its own podcast.

Lindsey: Oh boy, okay.

Tim: To be honest. Do you think there’s going to be a learning curve when kids show back up in the fall? I know you talked about the social, emotional learning deficit, but just with skills, with what they remember how to deal with working with their hands. What do you think is going to happen to them?

Lindsey: Okay, so the thing I’m super fascinated to see this fall is… Okay, so Art teacher confessional, I’m real bad at kindergarten. Kindergarten has always been a real challenge for me.

Tim: Welcome to the club. You are not the only one.

Lindsey: I feel everybody feels that way about kindergarten. We all kind of look at kindergarten like holy moly. And for me, I can’t teach kindergarten the way I teach anything else. It has to be like centers-

Tim: Oh it’s in its own world. Yeah.

Lindsey: Okay. But now imagine this if you will, Tim. Imagine a kindergarten class where no one had preschool.

Tim: Oh God, yeah.

Lindsey: Because that’s what every art teacher in the country is about to have a kindergarten group that didn’t have preschool for a year and a half. So their fine motor is what? It’s limited to whatever they were doing at home with their grownups.

Tim: Right, right.

Lindsey: And so, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a kindergarten like this. I feel almost afraid, but I feel also, we’re going to rise to the challenge, but I’m interested to see on social media. I feel there has to be some kind of groundswell of Art teachers giving each other advice, because this is going to be a kindergarten year like no other.

Lindsey: Not only the fine motor, but they’ve never done any type of organized class or school. Usually you have the benefit of a large number of them having been in daycare or having been in preschool in some setting. No, none of them. So we have an incoming kindergarten class of I think 80 some kids, were high. Also our numbers are going to be high this fall. And so I’m really trying to wrap my head around what that’s going to look like. A kindergarten group that’s younger and lower in terms of skills than any I’ve ever seen before. And also maybe haven’t had the benefit of a lot of social interactions-

Tim: Yeah being around people or being in a class or knowing how to listen to a teacher. Oh man.

Lindsey: Right. So it’s I think going to be special.

Tim: It’s going to be… Yeah. Okay. So yeah, this is its own podcast. I feel like we have to talk about-

Lindsey: Yeah, Kindergarten SOS. That’s a totally separate podcast, yeah.

Tim: Oh Man. Yeah.

Lindsey: Send help.

Tim: Giving me so much to think about. Yeah. So I’ll have to have you back on.

Lindsey: Okay.

Tim: And in the fall in September and to see how much of your hair you’ve pulled out dealing with kindergarten.

Lindsey: There you go.

Tim: But no. I think that, I don’t know, it gives me a lot to consider. A lot to think about. But we’ll go ahead and wrap it up there. So Lindsey, thank you so much chatting with me and good luck with all of this, this fall.

Lindsey: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Tim: Wow! My mind is still reeling from those last couple of ideas that Lindsey dropped on me there. But I think the biggest thing that she talked about, I think the biggest thing that we need to consider is the fact that our students are going to have very different needs this fall. Whether that be social and emotional learning; whether we need to think about trauma informed teaching. There are just so many things that are going to require parts of our attention. And like I said we’re in there. Lindsey talked about kids coming in, who don’t have any experience in the classroom at all. And I think we need to explore that idea so much more. Lindsey talked about kindergarten, which elementary teachers need to think about. They need to consider. But I’m also thinking about, I’m also considering the implications for Intro to Art students at the high school level and kids in advanced classes.

And how just missing so much time and missing that regular year of instruction permeates throughout our programs. There are a lot of consequences. Both positive and negative; both seen and unforeseen. There’s so much there that we don’t know how it’s going to work out. We don’t know how it’d shape our instruction yet. And so we’re going to be feeling our way through this year with a lot of unknowns.

And you know, I wish I had some answers. But right now I think the best we can do is promise each other that we’re going to think about and reflect on best practices. We’re going to need to share with each other, what’s working. We’re going to need to continue to explore these ideas throughout the air because there’re just so many ideas that are going to remain up in the air. And so, the best I can tell you right now is we can just continue to work on this, continue to share and continue to return to the topic throughout the fall.

Art Ed Radio is produced by the Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll be back next Tuesday with another episode.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.