Guest Post: Virtual Appy Hour

 

How do you engage a group of educators in the middle of a pandemic when professional development may (rightfully) be the last thing on their mind?! With a virtual Appy Hour, of course.

Education is ever changing, and this new way of life has us all searching for new ways to be innovative, to connect with others, and to engage students. When I first started reading The Four O’Clock Faculty it really resonated with me. I loved the new, fresh ideas and was eager to try some.

But. Pandemic. Quarantine. Working from home. Lots of limiting factors.

However, I am blessed to host a weekly Zoom with educators from all over the region.

Perhaps that would be the perfect opportunity to try something new? Enter Appy Hour!

A group of educators who serve students with significant cognitive disabilities have met virtually once a week since mid March. In the majority of our meetings, I go through updates from the state and then discuss resources. The teachers are engaged, but I feel like the content, while necessary, is not the most fun or even truly meaningful to what they are currently going through.

Last week, we tried something new during our Zoom. I invited them to all share two applications with each other. One app being educational or an app that keeps them organized, the other being a fun or self-care app. We collaborated and compiled our ideas on a Padlet. I popped up a 5 minute timer and shared a QR code and link. So many great ideas were shared! This week, we revisited the Appy Hour Padlet to discuss what we have tried in the last week.

We even added in some fun appetizer recipes! You can check out our Padlet here: https://padlet.com/starsha_canaday/AppyHour. After each meeting, I create a Smore Newsletter (easy peasy way of connecting and providing information). This newsletter summarizes what we go over during our meeting for those that can’t attend weekly. My favorite part is the teacher share and exchange. I have been so impressed (though not at all surprised) at how innovative and creative educators are right now. We learn the most from each other. Why reinvent the wheel?! When we share what we are doing right now, it makes our entire system stronger.

Following our digital Appy Hour, I can honestly say that every person on the Zoom meeting had something to take away and implement that day. That is relevant and current PD, and I’m loving it! From someone who longs to be innovative and creative in developing high quality and meaningful professional development but often gets caught up in the web of self doubt and fear of failing, I’m loving these new ideas.

I’m thankful for Kristi Daws for introducing our team to #4OCF and to Rich Czyz for writing this book. It is so exciting to see all the ideas already being implemented!

 

Starsha Canaday (@StarshaCanaday)

Starsha is an education specialist in Texas, a mom to two kids, a wife, and a lifelong learner with a passion for special education.