4/27/2020
Dear HDS Families,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to our recent survey on Distance Learning. Our evaluation of the program has been ongoing since we launched on March 25, and your feedback is much appreciated as we continue to make adjustments.  

We were happy to hear that many of you are finding that the program we are offering is working for your family, that our students continue to learn, and that the routine and structure are value-added in these challenging days. Thank you for expressing your gratitude for our hardworking teachers who continue to convert traditional material and lessons into Distance Learning lessons using new approaches and platforms.

It did not surprise us, and probably won't surprise you, either, that opinions expressed regarding specifics of the program ran the gamut from "too much"  to "not enough" in almost every realm: assignments, live classes, expectations, enrichment, and more. From the beginning, our goal has been to acknowledge the range of circumstances our families juggle at home, while at the same time provide a balanced, age-appropriate, and engaging program. 

In a typical classroom setting, students require changes in pace, transitions within lessons, opportunities to practice skills, a variety of approaches, and a mix of independent and group work. The same is true in Distance Learning. What is also true for Distance Learning is the fact that so much of this must happen with the child sitting in a chair, looking at a screen. Our teachers strive to find the best possible mix of formats for all of our students, knowing that some days/classes/platforms/assignments will be more successful than others for each student. Without your partnership, we would not have been able to achieve nearly what we have thus far. 

Your survey responses will inform our work in the days and weeks ahead; some have already been shared with teachers, and others will be considered in light of overall goals and capacity. We do wish to highlight several aspects of the program that have already benefited from previous feedback received from families, and we will certainly continue to update you as we move forward. 
  • A number of lessons at each grade level are provided as enrichment and are not required, thus allowing students to focus on their core academic classes and complete enrichment offerings as time allows. Those enrichment lessons are:
    • Early Childhood - Grade Three:  Music, Art, PE, Media, Chinese, Spanish
    • Grade Four - Grade Five:  Music, Art, Media, PE
    • Grades Six - Eight:  Wellness, Art, Music, PE
  • Teachers and Courtney Hart, HDS Counselor, have begun to add more social opportunities for students to interact through lunches, clubs, and drop-in activities.
  • Through additional, internal checks and balances, teachers are achieving greater consistency in the number of live sessions across subject areas and posting of assignments.
  • Teachers continue to examine and implement tools, resources, and platforms to provide ongoing feedback on submitted assignments, projects, and student progress.
  • Faculty are on top of student work completion and attendance. Students will be well-prepared for the essentials of fall curricula, and teachers will review and supplement as needed to meet the children's needs when we return.
  • MS students will be delving into projects, investigations, research, and reflective challenges in lieu of final exams.
Finally, we received feedback expressing an interest in keeping Fridays more flexible, to allow our students time to breathe, catch up, and complete projects and assignments. Our teachers have also used the time to participate in much needed training and professional development. Therefore, we have decided to continue the flexible Friday schedule with live homeroom / advisory check-ins and no additional live lessons through the upcoming weeks of Distance Learning.

Again, thank you for your input and your support. We are proud of our faculty and all that they have enthusiastically accomplished thus far, and we are proud of your children for their engagement and resilience. 

Warmest regards, 

Susan, Ashleigh, Lynne
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