The RMAS Model for Going Outside (Reverse SAMR lol)

Sarah Thomas, PhD
4 min readMay 14, 2021

Yesterday, the CDC put out guidance that most vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks anymore, raising several eyebrows and prompting headlines such as, “Wait, does this mean the pandemic is over for vaccinated people?”

Today on Twitter, I saw that Bill Maher tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.

I am no health expert. I’m not qualified to give any kind of medical opinion on what other people should or should not do. We all live in different places, have different risk tolerances, need to do different things, have different resources available, etc. All I can do is speak for myself and what I plan to do to stay safe, while maintaining some sort of normalcy in my life.

What I would say falls more into my lane is educational technology, also known as edtech. In my job as a district-level technology coordinator, I work with schools, educators, students, and sometimes parents to help them integrate technology into the learning process more effectively.

One such model of technology integration is SAMR. Created by Dr. Ruben Puendetura, it is a continuum of how teachers can utilize technology in their instruction. Here is a video from Common Sense Media sharing more about SAMR.

As a recap, SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.

Creative Commons License. Source: Lefflerd

One of the things that I do best as a Virgo is overanalyze everything, and find common threads among random things that do not seemingly have any overlap. However, this morning, as I was musing on Facebook about what I felt comfortable doing and not doing as a fully-vaccinated person, my thought process seemed to follow an inverted SAMR pattern.

RMAS (pronounced “R-Mas)

I have no visual skills. Source: Me

So, as you can see, I have color-coded my RMAS diagram. The bright green is a “yaaaaaas,” then there’s a duller green that’s like, “yes, but be careful.” Also as indicated on the right, these are things that provide transformational opportunities.

In the enhancement subset, the yellow stands for maybe, sometimes depending on the circumstances. The red signifies, in the words of Maya Wilkes from Girlfriends, “oh HELL no!”

Keep in mind that this diagram is fluid and different activities may show up as different things during different times.


What might this look like? Let’s examine a few real-life examples and where they would stand. Again, these are the way I see them (today). You may see them differently and that’s ok.

If I’m keeping it 100, very little falls in this category right now IMO. Emergencies maybe. I can think of maybe three times where I’ve had a bright green situation arise over the past year.

Seeing my parents is high on my priority list. Yes, we can talk on the phone, but actually being in a room with them is way better than that.

Items in my modification category are typically low-risk, high-reward. Typically 🤣

For me, this would be stuff like getting carry-out at a place that doesn’t deliver. If it does, but I’m already out and it’s easier to pick it up myself, then cool…even though by definition, that would fall more into the red category, but they are my rules and I can break them.

Or maybe a friend is visiting. By now, maybe they are vaccinated and/or you are doing all the safety stuff. For me, this is cool once in a while.

Being a homebody even before the pandemic, damn near everything falls into this category for me. I can watch movies on HBO. I can order groceries on Instacart (unless it’s stuff they don’t have on Instacart, then that becomes a yellow situation). I can video call and screenshare with people when I’m teaching them stuff. (I recognize my privilege in saying all of this, and am grateful for the opportunities to do these things.)

Concluding Thoughts

I’m hoping the world gets a lot safer in the very near future. For now, I’m rocking with MRSA. I mean MSA….err RMAS!!! I would love to go out and do karaoke for my birthday with friends in a few months, but it’s not worth getting sick over. We will see.

I’m also hoping that in the coming months, traveling for fun will move into the yellow then light green…road trips will probably be first. Not sure when I’ll be good with air travel, but I would absolutely love to go to a conference and see my non-local friends again in-person. I don’t really see that happening until at least 2022 for me.

Also, huge shoutout to the millions of cicadas in my area that will help me stay in my red zone this summer. Thanks to them, it will be way easier to stay inside.

In any case, be safe and stay well! Thanks for reading.



Sarah Thomas, PhD

Educator/Regional Tech Coordinator. Passionate about using social media to connect w/ educators around the world. We all have a story. What's yours? #EduMatch