Dear Green Hedges Community,
If it is acceptable in this moment of local and global crisis to call any of our new challenges “exciting” or “stimulating,” I think that my colleagues and I would all concur that functioning as educators in this “novel” environment has provided us with the professional development opportunity of a lifetime. Like the children, we are developing a whole new way to “go to school.”
The students have responded very well to this new school setting, and they have been both helpful and forward-thinking as they assist their teachers and each other with the occasional and predictable techno-wrinkles that arise over the course of the day. There is a can-do spirit, modeled and shared by their teachers, that seems to infuse each class. Thank you for being supportive presences on the homefront as Distance Learning continues to evolve across the school.
Our guiding principles in this journey have been to tend to the well being of our students and teachers in this time of uncertainty; to maintain connection through synchronous classes in homerooms and core academic subjects; to continue to provide lessons that nurture creativity and exposure to the arts; to keep instruction as simple as possible by focusing on essential skills and content through meaningful lessons and projects; and to find ways to continue to celebrate our small, friendly community and preserve a sense of playfulness in our lives.
Another anchor for us has been to stay as consistent as possible across the school so as to avoid unnecessary complication and confusion. Haiku/PowerSchool Learning, well in place as a central information center for all classes for several years, serves beautifully as the communication hub for every grade level. Thanks to teacher and tech ingenuity and teamwork, the Homeroom pages metamorphosed into multi-purpose, clear, and user-friendly landing sites for students and parents. Teachers across each grade level benefit as well as they post their lessons to each page and are able to stay informed about their students’ experience in all subject areas. This invites interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration.
We are also driven by the need to discern, from the abundance of resources available, which make the most sense for our needs, with keeping things as simple and user-friendly as possible a top priority. GHS Distance Learning 1.0 has featured the implementation and/or continuation of Zoom, Google Classroom, Scannable, and other apps such as FlipGrid and EdPuzzle. Teachers continue to develop their own competencies in utilizing these platforms in real time. It’s true “on the job training.” In the next phase, Distance Learning 2.0, it is our hope to dedicate time to teacher training in Seesaw (a Google Classroom-type platform for lower grades) and screencasting (which can be used to create asynchronous lessons as well as supplement synchronous lessons).
With a new daily routine established and a working comfort level with the various classroom and instructional tools in use, every day teachers have a better sense of how to design their lessons, manage classroom time, and check for understanding. They remain committed to the essential curricular goals set forth at the start of the year and are finding both traditional and creative approaches to help their students engage and apply their cognitive and creative energies in this online setting.
With more than two weeks of Distance Learning and teaching under our belts, our work as pioneers, innovators, and curators -- as teachers, that is -- continues. Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding of the many aspects of the work of distance education.
Honored to be a part of this incredible team of educators,