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Quality Remote/Hybrid Teaching Framework

A woman teaches remotely while a child attends class virtually

During the pandemic, educators everywhere pivoted their refined teaching practices to an online environment on a dime.

I woke up on Friday, March 13, 2020 afraid to go to work because the “novel virus”, as I kept hearing it referred to on the news, had “reached” New York, whatever that meant. By Sunday, I was sitting in Central Park reading a tweet that public schools would be closed for a month. 

A month? I hadn’t prepared my students for a hiatus from their normal routine, I thought. Wait — I hadn’t prepared myself for it. How could I have? None of us knew what was coming. 

Teaching from Behind a Screen

And then we figured it out. Public schools across New York went into crisis mode with varying degrees of organization and support for teachers. Whether we felt supported or not, teachers sat down at their computers, stared at their keyboards, and did little else but figure out how to teach online for the remainder of the school year. 

Our students’ faces stared at us from their homes, some grinning like they were enjoying a long snow day, some blank-faced, missing their routine, friends, and — us. 

We missed them, too. Sadness and stress piled on.

Over the 2020-2021 academic year, teachers developed skills for delivering quality instruction in remote and hybrid environments. We discovered downsides: challenges to student management and accountability and a diminished sense of community, but we also discovered surprising upsides: some students were better served, our schools invested in technology that works for our students, and communications and organizational barriers were broken with stronger online platforms. 

I figured it out to the best of my ability and I know you did, too. 

A New, Supportive Framework 

Now, the folks at Stony Brook University’s Center for Teaching and Learning in Community (CTLC) have capitalized on resources awarded under New York State’s Teaching in Remote/Hybrid Learning Environments (TRLE) project, part of the Rethink Grant awarded under the CARES Act, to provide relief, structure, and support for teaching in remote and hybrid environments. 

Dr. Nicole Galante was chosen to lead the Evaluation Team for the TRLE project because of CTLC’s rapid intervention during the early months of the Covid pandemic, reaching 3,500 teachers March-April 2020 with professional resources at a time when every educator was scrambling. 

Now, CTLC wraps its creation of the Quality Remote/Hybrid Teaching (QRT) Framework, which acts as a guide for schools to reach mastery in serving students in remote/hybrid environments. It is the first of its kind to be used in New York’s public schools and is cross-functional with NYS Teaching Standards and the National Quality Remote/Online Teaching Standards, so that curriculum development that aligns to the Framework can be easily held up against pre-existing standards.

a construction scaffold many stories high

A GrassRoots Effort to Rethink and Reimagine Education

As the first phase of the TRLE grant centered on deployment of resources to the twenty-nine hardest hit school districts in NYS during Covid, CTLC ran 240 workshops in teaching in remote/hybrid settings and reached thousands of teachers through BOCES Level 1 centers. Tireless educators showed up with creativity, flexibility, and a growth-mindset amidst the crisis to better serve their students and communities. These are the minds, combined with the education experts at CTLC, that went into the creation of the QRT Framework. 

Through focus groups, professional development exit reflections, and over 6,500 reflection surveys, Dr. Galante and her team were able to include teachers of every level, from every subject area, from across the state, in the creating process. The result is a dynamic methodology that combines the enduring understandings of thousands of teachers with the knowledge of the experts at CTLC. 

Questions at the core of the QRT Framework

  • What does the new normal look like?
  • What lessons can be taken from pandemic teaching into the future?
  • What barriers were broken? Which are yet to be broken?
  • How can technology be leveraged to the fullest extent to support teaching and learning?

The Four Promising Practices

The flexible, dynamic methodology in the Framework begins with the four promising practices. They are high-level principles rooted in actionable verbs, as all quality teaching is rooted in action. They are: 

  1. Encouraging Global Thinking 
  2. Learning using Multiple Modalities
  3. Providing Equity and Access to Rigorous Instruction
  4. Personalizing Instruction using Technology 

To think globally is to see the larger world around us. 

To learn with multiple modalities is to celebrate the varied ways in which we create meaning — to celebrate that there is more than the ‘I speak / You listen’ paradigm of the antiquated classroom. 

To provide equity and access is to use technology to universally design a lesson that provides space for each student to engage with content in their way, at their level. 

To personalize instruction using technology is to choose platforms and tools that support differentiation and provide data so that a teacher can serve all students and understand what was learned, quickly and easily. The days of keeping tallies in a grade book to be analyzed long into the evening can be over because the days of supportive technology are here

The QRT Framework guides educators through the teaching cycle with these four promising practices front of mind. 

The Four Focus Areas

While the four promising practices weave through the Framework, the four focus areas reflect the natural parts of a teacher’s work. The first three reflect the teaching cycle, from planning through assessment. The fourth focus area relates to a teacher’s professional development and engagement beyond the classroom. They are:

  1. Planning and Preparation 
  2. Learning Environment and Delivery of Instruction
  3. Assessment and Reflection
  4. Collaboration and Communication 

While this teaching cycle from planning through assessment is standard, the QRT Framework is uniquely concerned with where and how technology fits into the cycle. 

It guides the transition from physical teaching practices to remote/hybrid settings. 

Imagine having a tech-savvy guide holding your hand at the beginning of the pandemic, helping you figure out which type of platform or tool would best serve your objective and students. Now, we have that helpful guide. 

For assessment, the Framework is focused on using technology to collect data, to support a teachers’ reflection and understanding of the outcome of a lesson. It scaffolds that process to support development in this new space.

Three Unique Elements of the Framework

This linear model of the teaching cycle from planning through assessment is where most pedagogical frameworks end, assuming it to be a straight line from Point A to Point B, with professional development tacked on. Not only is the QRT Framework the premier design for teaching with technology, but it is also unique in three other ways. They are: 

  1. It defines reflection as an essential part of the teaching and learning process. Without space, time, and tools for reflection, teachers and students are not awarded the practice of cyclical, intermittent growth. 
  2. It includes professional development and engagement through collaboration and communication as an essential part of the teaching process. Without space, time, and professional learning communities for connection and learning, teachers are not awarded support in developing as professionals. 
  3. And here’s the big one — it doesn’t assume a linear model for teaching, at all. The teachers and educators involved in CTLC crafting the Framework understand through professional experience that teaching is anything but a straight line. It is a dynamic, interactive practice. It is playing Tetris while doing ballet. It demands a flexible methodology in which to practice, learn, and grow. That’s where the four promising practices come in. 

These three unique elements of the Framework have very practical applications in a teacher’s work life. They mean that time and space is built in for reflection and growth. Teaching is not seen as a solitary effort in which a teacher works around the clock, alone, to make miracles. Rather, teaching is seen as a dynamic profession which requires reflection and development. Professional learning communities are commonplace and resourced in schools and networks, so that teachers can engage in collective development. Lastly, the teacher functions within the flexible methodology of the Framework among people who recognize and respect that teaching does not start at Point A and stop at Point B, but is a daily practice of initiative, trial, and growth — particularly in the new frontier of remote/hybrid education. 

Interested in Field Testing the Framework?

Beginning in February of 2022, educators will field test the Framework so that real-time feedback can inform the refinement stage. 

If you’re interested in field testing the Framework in your school…

Let Us Know

A Dynamic Framework

Through collaboration between teachers and the experts at Stony Brook’s CTLC came a methodology that more truly reflects the teaching cycle than a straight line model ever could. With the promising practices as its bedrock, the Framework combines the best of what we already knew with the best of what we’ve learned. 

It acknowledges that quality teachers in remote/hybrid settings model the practice of global thinking, employ multiple modalities, provide equity and access to rigorous instruction, and personalize instruction using technologyas they plan, prepare, build classroom culture, deliver instruction, assess, and reflect. 

In this way, CTLC’s QRT Framework is set to be a guiding ethos for teachers looking to root their developing remote/hybrid pedagogy in a 21st century methodology built by teachers, for teachers.

Meg Kende

Meg Kende

Meg Kende is a writer specializing in education and educational technology who holds a master’s degree in teaching English and formerly taught in New York City and on Long Island. She now writes for organizations that are cheerleaders and change-makers for schools.

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