Dear ASFM Community,
I hope you had a great “virtual return to classes” this past week following our Spring Break. I was happy to fall back into my regular “new” routine of online meetings, webinars, virtual training opportunities, Zoom sessions, Google hangouts, and of course a non-stop back and forth of emails from the early morning through late into the night. I continue to learn much about distance learning and about how to ensure the appropriate amount and type of instruction for students in a time of crisis, change, contingencies, and uncertainty.
The decision that we made and communicated last week about concluding the school year in June in a distance learning mode has allowed us to work this week on end of the year plans, DLP adjustments, planning for the summer, and planning for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. The feedback we have received primarily from parents, but also from students and our educators, has allowed us to identify the following key actions (current and near future) we believe will allow us to support all of our learners from now through the end of the school year:
- Synchronous events increased as teachers became more familiar with tools and practices in a digital environment
- Teacher office hours amended to have more 1:1 meetings with students on a weekly basis
- Staff Training to safeguard students with synchronous learning with online platforms
- Designation of assignments and complementary activities for clarity with parents and students
- Amendments to the support services model with learning specialist teachers
- Staffing changes in responsibilities to support classrooms without assistants
- Increase live sessions focused on social-emotional learning and academic lessons.
- Expectation that either the homeroom teacher or the assistant have a 1:1 virtual discussion once a week with a student or parent to check-in about life and feelings and school work. LSTs doing extra check-ins. Spanish and specialist teachers check-in on a needs basis.
- Counselors and Psychologists checking in with at-risk students based on individual needs and teachers for well-being purposes.
- Admin, Counselors and Psychologists checking in with each teacher 1:1 on a weekly basis.
- Educational assistants check in daily with homeroom teachers about workload and duties, and Inclusion Assistants check in daily with specific students.
- Teachers scheduling additional 1-1 and small group follow up sessions in and out of scheduled times as needed or requested by teachers/students
- Added HS access sessions to connect and help students organize their time and their work
- Moving away from final exams toward preponderance of evidence and project-based learning
- Moving toward more small group and individualized feedback sessions
- MS parent reach out by advisors
- MSHS parent reach out in cases of learning support, at-risk and personal issues
For more information about our Distance Learning methodology, its origins, its ongoing development and adjustments and its future, please be sure to read the informative article in today’s Weekly Eagle entitled, Digital Learning, Distance Learning, Remote Learning.....Navigating the Future!, written by our ASFM Assistant Superintendent for Innovation and Learning, Mr. John Hickey.
In today’s Weekly Video I talk about “being forgiving”, a recommendation given by Sal Khan of Khan Academy in a training I received this week. This suggestion caught my attention because it is one I believe we all need to emulate for our children and students on a daily basis. What we are experiencing right now in the world and online is far from ideal, but it is the reality we are living. In another webinar just this morning, a renowned educational expert, Will Richardson, reminded us all that it is ok to “just not know what exactly to do at this moment in time.” Everyone, staff and parents alike, are doing their absolute best, as fast as possible to figure things out, make things work, meet student needs, and ensure ongoing growth and learning for our ASFM Eagles from Nursery through grade 12. This teamwork, coupled with understanding, forgiveness, patience, respect and trust will help us maintain our pace and will fill us with hope for the future.
I conclude by once again thanking all of our amazing educators for their time, care, attention, dedication, and commitment to our students and to our entire ASFM community. Equally, I thank all parents for their ongoing and continuous trust, patience, input, and support during these difficult times.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me personally if you have a question, doubt, or concern; or if you want to just say hello. Take care and stay safe.
Dr. Michael W. Adams