S2E4: Back To School Tech Tips For Students, Parents, and Teachers

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This is a podcast episode titled, S2E4: Back To School Tech Tips For Students, Parents, and Teachers. The summary for this episode is: <p>Moser Consulting Scrum Master and teaching veteran Jody Bergman joins us this week for a talk about tech as much of the country either heads back, or prepares to head back, to school.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

Angel Leon: Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Asking Anything presented by Moser consulting. I'm your host [ Angel Leon 00:00: 18 ], Moser's HR advisor. In this week's episode, we'll be tackling a subject that always comes up around the late July, early August timeframe and that is back to school. Today, we're doing it with a little bit of a twist. The techie twist, if you will, by bringing in one of our consultants to talk about the subject. We're lucky enough to have a consultant who used to be a teacher and she saw it all from the dog ate my homework to the dog bit my iPad. Here to talk to us today is Jody Bergman, one of Moser's senior consultants. Jody Bergman is a Scrum Master at Moser consulting. She has been working with Moser for the last 18 months and comes from a strong education background with over 15 years of teaching experience in both high schools and middle schools around the state of Indiana. Jody, thanks so much for joining us this week on Asking anything. I'm really looking forward to this topic and I'm sure we're going to have some interesting stories for our listeners. How are you today?

Jody Bergman: I am good. Thank you for having me.

Angel Leon: All right. Well, it's a pleasure to have you. I am a father. I have, I have two kids, one on the way. One just graduated high school so I still have one, he's in second grade or about to second grade. So this topic is near and dear to my heart. So let's start with IT tips for kids. What tips would you be able to provide our younger listeners as they embark on this school year?

Jody Bergman: Oh my goodness. Well, to start off, I think it's such an interesting generation that they grow up when it's Generation Alpha, I think is what it's called right now because they're all learning through screens. And so they've been called the Glass Generation I was looking at the other day because they'll have most of their learning and most of the communication through their glass screens. So one of the things that I always tried to emphasize with my students is to make sure that their devices were charged because you can't use them if they are not charged. And so I would like to emphasize that with them, make sure that they come to school prepared. It is amazing how that has now replaced the make sure you have a paper and pencil, and now it's make sure your devices charged. So that's kind of a cool transition, but with them being the Glass Generation, I think a lot of times what happens is you're actually going to find that a lot of the students have more of a technology knowledge base than the teachers. So I would encourage the students to just have patience with their teachers. You're going to have teachers who are right out of college and they are also part of that kind of Glass Generation and get it and have a really broad understanding. But then you're going to have teachers who are one or two years away from retirement, and this is all very, very new to them. So anything that students are able to teach their teachers, which is a really cool opportunity for them to kind of flip the tables like that. So.

Angel Leon: Yeah, the Glass Generation does make a lot of sense because I have to say my son, last year in first grade, going through the pandemic his teacher was, like you said, she was more closer to retirement than college. So it was an interesting thing to see, especially after they went back from being all Zoom to maybe just a hybrid. We had them on for three days of school days and then two days of hybrid. And it was interesting to see how even the children, through Zoom, they would do the little hand up, raise their hands and she would ask," What is that on the screen? I don't know what that is." So that is an interesting take. That's good advice.

Jody Bergman: Yeah.

Angel Leon: So since, of course, as I mentioned, we're still going through the pandemic. What tips would you have for kids as they go into year two in school of going through this? Any sort of routine that you would recommend in order for kids to start their activities and or homework at home?

Jody Bergman: Yeah. I want to emphasize the importance of brain breaks for the students. We spend so much time on the technology, especially during the pandemic, looking at the screens, being in front of that device, or what have you. Whether it be an iPad or Chromebook or whatever device the school gives or provides, making sure you take a brain break, stepping away from it. Just kind of readjusting. Taking a breath if that needs. If that means you go outside and take a walk around your house, or just a quick break into the sunshine. If that means you walk up and down the hallway of your house or just walk through your home. But stepping away from that I think is going to be really huge. Also, there are a lot of different brain break techniques that you can find online. There are YouTube videos that you can Google, but anything that gets your brain kind of thinking in a different direction. And so it's not just that one focus of technology, but you actually kind of have a reset. Which is really cool before they go into their next virtual class or what have you, because it refreshes them. And even as adults, I think we need that. We get so caught up in we have meeting after meeting after meeting or we're on our laptops, our computers all day long. And so to make sure that we take those breaks and have a time, a moment for our brain to reset itself. That's huge.

Angel Leon: Yeah. So kind of like right now being in summer and school starting, I know that with my seven year old, I always have to quote unquote, take the iPad away because it's fine to let go, just go outside, ride your bike, just play with some Legos, play with your neighbors outside. We live in a cul- de- sac. So they're constantly going and playing kickball, if you will. Because they have little paths that they normally put up down on the street and then they play kickball. So that gets him out of that screen time. And so with school starting and now being so dependent on iPads or laptops for the older kids, that's good advice. You mentioned some of those brain breaks. Do you have one in mind that you maybe could recommend?

Jody Bergman: I used to do a breathing techniques with my students. So a lot of times I taught middle school for several years and school can be really chaotic and whether you're in the classroom or you're on a zoom call, you have that chaos and that energy of all those other people. And so it's really nice to take 30 seconds or a minute and just pause and breathe. My students used to think I was crazy because I would start classes off by having them close their devices and just breathe for 30 seconds. But it is amazing how it slows down your brain. And it really allows you to focus on the next thing that's being said. So it really quiets the mind and it allows you to absorb the next words that the teacher says, or kind of just have your own personal reset so that you're focused and ready for your next class.

Angel Leon: Yeah. That sounds a lot like a sort of mini meditation session.

Jody Bergman: It is. It is. And it's so funny because at first they really, they think that you're kind of crazy. They're like," What is she having us do now? This has got to be the crazy teacher." But then after a while they sort of get used to it. And then they ask for it because if you forget to do it one day, they're like," Well, are we going to breathe today? Are we going to have our minute? Our minute of breathing today?" And I'm like," Oh yeah, thank you for reminding me." Because they start to really enjoy that routine and that brain break because as middle school students and I'll speak to that probably a little bit more because that's the age group that I taught. But their brains are still developing and they function at such a high rate and they have all of this stuff they're trying to input. Whether that be the conversation that just happened in the cafeteria or the argument that just happened outside in the hallway at their are lockers or if their home during COVID. That could be somebody's texting them and somebody has put something on social media and they want to look at it and they want to watch and they want to do and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, and their brains are functioning at such a high speed. And so I always would recommend to them just take 30 seconds to a minute and just slow down, allow yourself that time, allow yourself the opportunity to breathe and refocus. And then you can really enter into your next class with a clear mind. And then you would be amazed at how you can absorb the material so much easier.

Angel Leon: Yeah, absolutely. And kids in that stage are like huge sponges. I mean, they're taking everything, not just what they're reading, but you know, they're sensors, what they're seeing, what they're looking at and it kind of paces them. It brings them back to zero. If you will, to kind of just settle down, this is our next activity and they can go in there with a positive mind frame.

Jody Bergman: Absolutely. Yeah.

Angel Leon: So moving onto the next topic I to get to tips for parents because as I mentioned before, I'm a parent, as I mentioned, I have a school- aged son and he's going to second grade. What tips could you provide to us parents starting off this school year?

Jody Bergman: Patience. I think it's funny. You'll hear me say, especially during this time, we all have to have patience and grace. Patience and grace with each other, with ourselves, making sure that if something doesn't get charged, it's not the end of the world. You can always plug it in all the teachers that I know and I've had the privilege of working with, we have been gracious. If a student needs to charge it's not a big deal. So don't let it ruin your day. It's all going to be fine. Make sure you communicate with your teachers. Communication is huge. All your teachers are going to have email and they're going to have apps like Remind or Class Dojo where you can utilize those and get information on your individual student or the class as a whole, or just different happenings and announcements. Make sure that you understand what platform each teacher's going to use, whether that be a Google Classroom or any other platforms that are out there. And if you need the class code or if you need any sort of information that you gather that from the teachers and maybe keep that in an organized place because sometimes teachers use different stuff. One teacher will use Google Classroom and another teacher will use something else. And so it's nice to just keep," Okay, well, this subject is going to use Google Classroom and this subject has something else," and to just keep it organized. But always stay in contact with your teachers. It's always nice to get an email from a parent and just checking in or talking and having those conversations is always really good. So I would recommend patience and grace is always huge. Making sure that you communicate to your teachers, your student's teachers, if you have any questions or any concerns and just understanding what platforms that they're going to be using, because it does vary teacher by teacher and what the schools recommend.

Angel Leon: And then there is of course the IT side of things because we're, we're an IT consulting company. So we have to touch on this. What about kids get their own devices, they can bring devices from schools, but there's parameters that have to be put in place. So security, what can you tell us about maybe protecting your home network monitoring kids' activity?

Jody Bergman: Yes, absolutely. So I'll just start at the beginning and it's passwords. You know, every student is going to have a login and a password for that device. To my students I would say," Please do not share your password with your best friend, even if they are your best friend right now," we all know how that can go. So just don't share your passwords with anybody, make sure that you keep your things secure. Don't write your password down on a post- it note and then keep that on your device. That's the same as sharing it with someone because they can see it and then log in. I see that a lot. I would see that a lot, especially with the younger ones, because they do forget. So just making sure that they have it memorized. Don't write it down on a post- it, don't share it with anyone. In regards to bring your device home. I would encourage the parents to make sure the devices stay in a central location. Don't have your student go off in their room and just use it, make sure that you have them somewhere where you can kind of monitor what they're doing. You don't necessarily have to stand over their shoulder and micromanage them, but just be aware. Just be aware of where your child is at and what they're working on. And then that way you're there if they have any questions or they need any help.

Angel Leon: Well, and at the same time, as you mentioned before, have patience, because some of those activities that they're going to go through in school, you might not necessarily be familiar with it because, like me, I went to school several years ago and I don't remember anything math- related nowadays. So yeah, we had a lot of discussion about math in my house last year. So yes. And of course having been a teacher like you were, and since you're currently working in IT, what tips would you have for teachers?

Jody Bergman: Oh, for the teachers, again, it's going to be grace and patience with yourselves and with the students, because you're always going to, as soon as you think you've seen it all, something's going to happen and there'll be a new situation. But for teachers, it's just always learning, making sure that you're constantly learning and trying new things and it's going to fail sometimes and that's okay. We tell our students just fail, but fail forward and we need to extend the same to ourselves. So know that if you try a new lesson or you try a new website or a new activity or what have you, it might fail, but that's okay because you always learn something. So for teachers, I would say, just keep trying, have grace and patience with yourselves and with your students.

Angel Leon: So Jodie, how important is it for all parties involved, in this case, children, parents, and teachers all together to start off with a positive attitude towards the school year, even while going through a pandemic?

Jody Bergman: Yes. I think attitude is going to be the make or break. Attitude is going to be huge. Start off the year with a positive attitude. Make sure you go in excited about the year. Don't go in thinking," Oh, this is going to be terrible or hard or difficult," or what have you. Your teachers will always work with you. And the students are amazing. Parents are a phenomenal support system for the teachers. I leaned on my parents a lot for help. So going in having a good attitude, being excited for the school year, like be excited for it. Back to school. And I know the students would say, oh, we're not excited for school. But when then when they get there and they see their friends either in person or on a Zoom call, that excitement shows up. So just feed off of that and remember that it's school and it's supposed to be fun too, so we can learn things and have fun at the same time.

Angel Leon: I always used to tell my kids the metaphor. I always used to compare the start of the school year with the start of a season in professional sports. Everybody's zero and zero. It's time to win. Let's go make it happen. So I think, I think my oldest son who just graduated high school, he got a little bit sick of that, but I always used to tell him every I have to start over every year. It's zero, zero. Let's go. let's go a hundred and zero. Let's go. All right, we'll move on to the next subject. But Jody, before we end our show, I'd like to ask you the following questions, but I want you to answer them from a teacher's perspective.

Jody Bergman: Okay.

Angel Leon: All right. So what's a commonly held belief about teaching that you passionately disagree with?

Jody Bergman: That's a great question. I would disagree that when people think teachers do not work during the summer. That is false teachers work all summer long. That is when we prepare lessons for the upcoming school year. That's when we collect data on the previous school year to know what direction we need to go in the next school year. That's when we get together with our colleagues to do common planning. That's when we do professional development, unfortunately that is not when we just sit by the pool and have some fruity drinks. We do work during the summers.

Angel Leon: So that, it's interesting because as a parent, that's the first thought that comes to mind as well, they're done for the year. They usually work a couple of days because the school year calendar says teachers and a day later or a couple of days later. So I'm always thinking that's when they go in and kind of clean up the room and then they're gone and it's like," I'm free." So you're telling me that's not true?

Jody Bergman: That's not true. That's not true at all.

Angel Leon: Okay. I'll take your word for it. So next question, what's something that everyone in your industry, so basically teaching should start or stop doing?

Jody Bergman: I think everyone in the teaching industry should start learning more about technology. Technology is not going anywhere. In fact, I think it's going to become even more prominent in education. And so anytime you can go to a technology training or watch a YouTube video or lean on your younger teachers for help or any of the resources that you can find always be learning. And so I think that teachers just always need to be learning especially about technology. Cause it's not going anywhere.

Angel Leon: I agree. I often think because I grew up this way in chalkboard with chalk and my teacher just hearing the sound of the chalk hitting that chalkboard. And it's not that way anymore. Teachers should, I mean, everybody really should just get with technology because if the pandemic has taught us anything, is that Zoom, Slack, all of these softwares are here to stay because that's how we're now portraying ourselves to the world. So teaching is no difference.

Jody Bergman: I agree. Yeah.

Angel Leon: So when you first started in teaching, what was harder than you expected?

Jody Bergman: Oh my goodness. Classroom management, being able to walk into a classroom and have rules and have parameters and set boundaries for the students and be able to stick with it, making sure that everybody is on the same page and everybody understands the culture and the atmosphere of your classroom and adheres to that. As soon as they walk in the door, that's something that is really hard. It's hard for a teacher to learn and enforce and really understand what works best for them and what works best for the students. And so that was much harder than I ever anticipated it being.

Angel Leon: So I can only imagine what it would feel like to just walk in your first day as a teacher into a room. And like you mentioned, you have to set those parameters. You have to set those standards. How do you do that with a group of 19, 20 students who you've never met, you've never had any inkling to who they are, what they like. And so here comes Ms. Berkman, just walking in the room and" Hi guys."

Jody Bergman: Right? So there's an old saying in teaching and it is," You're not supposed to smile until Christmas." So to go in and just be very stoic. You're not supposed to smile until Christmas. I recommend not doing that. I think that's the exact opposite of what you should do. For me, it was always about culture and tone and to set the culture and to set the tone of my classroom. I worked with my students. We would have discussions and I would say here's some rules. Here are some parameters that I would like to put in the classroom. What do you guys agree with? What do you not agree with? And we would work together. And so it's really interesting for me now as a Scrum Master here at Moser, we talk about working agreements. So when I'm starting work with a new team, that's one of the first things we do is we discuss, how are we going to work best as a team? What are things that you need from me? What are things that you need from each other? And they're the exact same discussions that I would have in my classroom at the beginning of the school year. What are the things you need from me? What are the things you need from each other, as classmates, to make this room, to make this culture, what you need to do your best?

Angel Leon: So then if you're not supposed to smile before Christmas, then do you smile before Labor Day, at least?

Jody Bergman: I think I walked in smiling on the very first day.

Angel Leon: That's great. Jodie, this has been fun. Thank you very much.

Jody Bergman: Thank you so much for having me.

Angel Leon: Thank you for listening in to this week's edition of Ask Anything presented by Moser consulting. We hope you enjoyed listening to our conversation about back to school with our guest, Jodie Berkman. For more on this topic, we have a block posts related to today's podcast on our website, moserit. com. We'd love it if you would join us next week, when we continue to dive deeper with our resident experts in what they're currently working on. If you have an idea or a topic you'd like us to explore, please reach out to us through our social media channels. In the meantime, please remember to give us a rating and subscribe to our feed wherever you get your podcasts. Until then have a great start to the school year. And so long everybody.


Moser Consulting Scrum Master and teaching veteran Jody Bergman joins us this week for a talk about tech as much of the country either heads back, or prepares to head back, to school.