Sometimes, the best lessons learned come from the most challenging circumstances. I know I have learned a lot more about career tech educators and students since March of 2020.
I learned that instructors and even administrators can learn new things, too. Even for those educators already familiar with or already teaching remote, there were still changes…changes in volume as the number of students (all of them) transitioned to remote learning. Our career tech teachers and instructors became students, because they needed to learn new skills, too. What worked in a traditional classroom didn’t always work in a virtual learning environment. Instructors also had to reach out to students who were not responding, not participating. Teachers had to meet students on their terms…the typical school day gave way to 24-7 teaching as we all became more accessible due to virtual learning.
To those staff members, teachers and instructors (and my fellow administrators) who struggled, adapted and managed to put interests of students first, I thank you. For those instructors and career tech staff who found the transition not that difficult, but shared their ideas, creativity and listening ear, thank you. Together, we discovered new ways of recruiting students through virtual open houses, new provocative assignments online, and instructors who set up video cameras in their living rooms to record or stream lessons – thank you! If you know of an exceptional educator who has shown outstanding effort this past year especially, please consider nominating them for an Ohio ACTE Award. The process is simple and quick, access the award descriptions and nomination form here.
I learned something about students - they are more resilient than I ever knew. They value their career-technical programs and complied with new procedures as well as sacrificed many activities that they were looking forward to during the school year. Just like we were looking forward to our usual activities as educators, like the Annual Ohio ACTE Conference.
In July 2020, we had to cancel the Ohio ACTE Annual Conference, but many instructors came together to share their experience during many virtual meetings held last July. While I missed the comradery of seeing all my friends and colleagues in person, we were still able to and share experience and information. Plans are underway for a 2021 Ohio ACTE Annual Conference, in person, as long as we can do it safely. Your Ohio ACTE leadership will thoughtfully consider how we can meet the needs of educators using whatever means possible.
Leadership is the foundation of Ohio ACTE and as always, committed leaders are encouraged to consider being an Ohio ACTE officer or lead a division. Officer nomination information can be found here, and I would be happy to answer any questions about service. Please read the information here and consider serving as an officer.
One of the most interesting aspects of being an Ohio ACTE officer is working on legislation that impacts career-tech education delivery. Our CTE legislative agenda was stalled this past year, but we still managed to advocate successfully for CTE programs to meet safely, in-person in order to provide hands on instruction and not short-change current students. SB 89 finally passed in December 2020, after a year of advocacy. That bill provides some small and large changes, designed to help us more effectively and efficiently deliver career-tech ed (see the article about SB 89 here.)
I know we have all learned lessons that we never imagined discovering. From my perspective these lessons will help to frame the future for how we deliver education. One thing is for sure, we will come out of this stronger than we were before. The proof will be in our students’ success despite the struggles of 2020.
Ryan McCoart, Assistant Dean of Satellites - Great Oaks Career Campuses