New Communication Habits

I almost dropped my phone when our district’s chief communications officer started a phone message with, “Welcome to week four of e-learning.” Week four! How in the world did that happen? What a shock!

Where does the time go?

And haven’t these weeks been busy! If questions come in via e-mail, I can’t say that I’ll be right there; we have to start a much longer written dialog. The more frequent meetings require more time as everyone adjusts to the new technologies we are using. Most of the time, trouble shooting is more involved on the telephone. And what might have been a passing conversation in the hall is now a catch-up session. I don’t know about you, but when a teacher calls with a question, I want to visit. Man, I miss them!

What happens in four weeks?

A lot can happen in four weeks. We can:

  • Build some new habits
  • Settle into some routines
  • Master a new skill
  • Get a certification
  • Take an old skill to a new level
  • Just try something new
  • Learn a foreign language

The beautiful thing about this new skill set is my learning directly benefits the staff and students at my school!

New habits

In this time, I’ve developed some new digital habits. Some were intentional, but some have just found me.

Screen videos

One of my new habits is to do more screen videos. Instead of telling how, I show the steps. My new library of how-to videos includes:

  • saving a single page of a PDF,
  • sharing a Google Doc without giving editing rights,
  • inserting Google items into Power School Learning,
  • changing call numbers in Destiny,
  • making interactive games in Google Draw,
  • manipulating data in Google Sheets, and
  • uploading videos into YouTube

The list goes on. But when a computer-related question comes in, then it may be more efficient to just show the process. As a matter of fact, some teachers now start their requests with, “Would you make me a video on . . . ”


screen shot of library lesson formGoogle Forms are so helpful for lessons! If you are on the specialists rotation, then you probably see everyone and you need a way to keep up with all the submissions. Google Forms is a life saver for that. Not only am I using forms for lessons, but I moved our 1000-minute reading challenge to forms, too.

The best part of forms is not only the data collection, but that the organization and reorganization of that data through sheets:

      • Sorting by grade level lets me analyze a multi-grade lesson for attributes that worked best for that grade.
      • Sorting by teacher allows me to quickly see the percentage of the class that participated. In addition, I can go straight to Class Dojo, open up that class, and start communicating directly with students.
      • Sorting by answers shows me strong questions/activities and allows me to spot the weaker ones.


Badge for 1000 minute club. Made on Canva. Picture from Pixabay.

This is one of those accidental habits. Last year, Ashley Cooksey wrote a series of blog posts about badges. That idea stuck in my head but didn’t really go anywhere. Now we are home, and I need something with a little extra punch for digital responses. When students complete an assignment, they get a badge. I give them comments too, but the badge is what they talk about. When a student completes a milestone in the 1000-minute reading challenge, they also get a badge. Right now, those badges are just for minutes, but I’m planning to also make them for genres and types of books. We are giving these all out through Class Dojo right now, but I’m looking at other ways students might display them. Perhaps the web pages the older students build for online journals will be a good place to start.

What are you doing?

One of the amazing things about this e-learning adventure is the way that ideas have been shared! Please share about a new digital habit you’ve been working on in this last month!


Author: Bitsy Griffin

Bitsy Griffin is the school librarian for Chatham Grove ES in Chapel Hill NC. She has 25+ years experience in elementary, middle, and high schools as a math teacher and librarian. She is active in AASL and the North Carolina School Library Media Association. Find her blog at .

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Professional Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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