Schoology: A Teacher’s Perspective

April 6th, 2015

Category: Policy and Practice

Tim-and-Schoology

This blog post is a follow-up to our earlier post Cool for Schoology: Eight Things to Know.

By Tim Brewer, science teacher, St. Georges High School

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the individuals involved with the Delaware Department of Education’s decision to make Schoology available throughout the state. Schoology is a Learning Management System (LMS) that teachers, students, and parents can use to personalize instruction.

The choice to contract with Schoology statewide was not a “top-down” decision—as a member of the BRINC Consortium, I have been piloting Schoology (along with 40 other educators) for close to two years in my classroom, and BRINC’s work with Schoology informed the state’s decision. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers, IT personnel, specialists, and administrators were all included in the decision making process. Selecting Schoology was a very collaborative effort led mostly by classroom teachers.

Schoology transformed my classroom. It wasn’t always easy (and every day continues to be a learning experience), but I am amazed with the results so far.

I’d like to offer some advice to future Schoology educators about creating your virtual classroom. Keep an open mind and continue exploring and learning how the tool can be most effective for you and your students. A few big ideas that come to mind:

  • Schoology won’t replace your expertise as a teacher. Schoology is a great tool, but it’s still just that—a tool. As a teacher, your pedagogy, training, and experience will still have the biggest impact on students, and you’ll learn how to use Schoology based on your teaching style and what works best for you.
  • Learning how to use Schoology is an ongoing process—for teachers and for students. I’ve been using Schoology in my classroom for a couple of years now, but there are still occasional Schoology hiccups. Schoology streamlines a lot of things in my classroom, but it’s definitely been a learning process to find the right balance.
  • More isn’t necessarily better. When starting out with Schoology, it can be tempting to want to automatically put all of your course materials onto the platform and then wait for/expect the classroom dynamic to completely change. I learned quickly that in my case, I had to be strategic about what I added to Schoology, and had to be clear with my students about my expectations for them. It was a transition and a process, and we all need some time to adjust and find out what works best.
  • Communicate, collaborate, repeat. One thing I learned quickly is that in order to use Schoology most effectively, I had to collaborate and communicate with students and colleagues about the ultimate goals for using Schoology, and the ultimate goals that we had for students.

Using Schoology is a great opportunity for all of your students to have a 21st century learning experience, and whether you’re a digital native or a digital immigrant, you can find ways to make it work in your classroom. Keep me posted on how it goes!

Tim Brewer is a science teacher at St. Georges High School, and member of the inaugural Rodel Teacher Council. The Rodel Teacher Council is currently accepting applications. Learn more here.

Author:
Rodel Foundation of Delaware

info@rodelfoundationde.org

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