In the most trying years in education, we, as educators, have had so much thrown at us, yet realize that we are needed now more than ever. We have all had to learn new vocabulary like “distance,” “virtual” and “hybrid.” We are applauded by our communities for being essential, yet are left lacking the tools and training really needed to take on these challenges. 

But ready or not, when the Fall of 2020 arrived, we returned back to some modified version of our classes. With so much more for us to do to make learning happen (know what a LMS is, learn how to screencast, create a HyperDoc, buy a webcam!), we realized on top of teaching in a pandemic, we had to bring back some degree of normalcy to our students. We simply had to be MORE of who we are. 

More responsible for the safety and well being of our students and ourselves…

More present and involved in the social/emotional needs of our students…

More flexible for changing schedules…

More tech savvy as the landscapes we all had to face were now radically different…

More forgiving of ourselves as we flounder through our missteps and rejoice in our wins.

For me, I experience those missteps and wins daily. It’s something that exhausts me for sure, but it also validates what I do and who I am. 

Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Ryan O’Donnell and I both live and teach in Rocklin, California. I teach Video Production at Rocklin High (GO THUNDER!) I have spent most of my career as a Social Studies teacher, and have always been a firm believer in helping other teachers – both local and beyond – to improve their craft.  

Since everything changed on March 13th 2020, I have found myself tapping into my skills as a technology teacher, a TOSA, a history teacher and a presenter to survive while teaching in an ever-changing environment. These environments have ranged from Asynchronous to Distance to A/B Hybrid and AM/PM Hybrid and, through it all, I did some things that worked really well! But being completely honest, some of what I did just plain failed. 

So at this year’s virtual CUE, I hope to share with you just some of my reflections of my wins and not wins (sounds better than losses).  Hope to see you there – well virtually that is!

Join Ryan on Friday, March 26th at 7:00pm PST for his session “Lessons Learned: Teaching and Surviving During the Pandemic.” Register for Virtual Spring CUE today at!

Ryan O’Donnell is a Video Production teacher at Rocklin High School in Rocklin, California. Before teaching video, Ryan had been a TOSA and social studies teacher. With over 20 years in education, he is passionate about professional development for teachers with a focus on using tools, techniques and strategies in order to help students become more engaged and connected. Along with being a full time teacher, Ryan is a podcaster, co-hosting the ed tech podcast, “Check This Out” as well as a presenter at various workshops and conferences throughout the country. 

About Kristin Oropeza
Kristin is a full-time special education teacher, contract consultant, and educational content writer. She is a Google Certified Teacher (Level 1 and 2), Google Certified Trainer, and MIE Expert for 2020-2021.