September 1, 2020

Ride the Wave of Our New Normal – Hybrid / Blended Learning

If there was ever a time to “ride the wave” of life, it is NOW. As educators, we tend to prefer things orderly, planned, organized, labeled, and color coded. We like to give hugs, high fives, and pats on the back! However, we are facing a 2020-2021 school year filled with uncertainty, anxiousness, and fear. Many of us have that sick, heavy feeling in our stomach. If there was ever a time to “ride the wave” of life and Transform Our Teacher Mindsets, it is NOW. 

I took some time to reflect on the months ahead and chose to dig deeper into the Hybrid Model of education. This model appears to be a common approach among many school districts around the country. To help me surf with the pros, I set out to answer a few foundational questions. 

1. What is Hybrid/Blended Learning? 

The terms Hybrid learning and Blended learning are used interchangeably in the education industry. Most districts in the country are using the verbiage Hybrid Learning. This approach to teaching combines face-to-face instruction with a component of online learning that extends or enhances the face-to-face instruction. I discovered there are many Reasons to Love Blended Learning

2. What forms can Hybrid/Blended Learning take? 

There are several approaches to Hybrid learning. Each district will plan a strategy that works best for their population. Here are a few examples.   

  • Two-day rotation: Students would receive in-person classroom instruction on two days a week based on their grade level. For instance, Monday and Wednesday would be for kindergarten through third grade, and Tuesday and Thursday for grades four through six. On the other days, students would work on “enrichment” learning activities that can be online, in-person, or with small groups. On Fridays, all students would participate in distance learning while buildings conduct sanitization processes. 
  • A/B:Half of the student population would attend class in-person four full days per week, while the other half would engage in distance learning. The students would alternate each week. 
  • AA/BB: In this plan, the AA group will attend school on Monday/Tuesday. On Wednesday the school would close for cleaning. Thursday/Friday would be face-to-face instruction for students in group BB. When not in the classroom students would complete the online learning tasks. 
  • Early/Late Staggered Schedules: Grade level cohorts would have staggered start and dismissal class times. There would also be multiple recesses and lunch periods. 

3. How do I plan for Hybrid/Blended Learning? 

I am a detailed, logistical thinker just like many educators. Once my district announced they’d begin the year with Hybrid learning, I immediately began planning what the days and lessons would look like. The most impactful statement I read was, “Make your planning decisions through the lens of the least well-served students in your community.” I found these valuable videos to get me started and build my background knowledge around this concept. While reading through these resources, I became excited about offering a more flexible, engaging and thought-provoking learning environment.   

If you are looking to further your professional learning on the topic of Hybrid/Blended Learning, I highly recommend the following Learners Edge courses: 

Take a few deep breaths, center your mind, and prepare to ride the wave of our 2020-2021 school year. Ride the ebbs and flows with grace, dignity and confidence. You WILL be successful! Look forward to growing from the new opportunities and the challenges that lie ahead. 

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