As we mentioned a few weeks ago, it didn’t feel right at the time to share about how well our kids and families were handling our forced and immediate shift to distance learning.
But now as most schools have made the shift and we’ve heard from parents and teachers from a variety of situations and have had the time to reflect, we wanted to share the hows and whys that created the ease.
To paint a brief picture-our teachers made the adjustment in under 24 hours. Our kids were submitting meaningful work on the first day. After three weeks, we’ve made adjustments but we’re still on track with our plans.
No busy work just for the sake of doing it. Not requiring a one size fits all schedule for our kids. Not expecting every family or teacher’s values and situations to mimic the other.
So how did that happen?
We’ve always operated like this. I’m not talking about the sitting behind a computer or lacking connection parts. But our students, families, and teachers are used to making changes based on our current situation.
More specifically, our students and families are used to being a part of a community and part of the conversation. We know them and their situations. But we still asked them what they needed and wanted and they know that we’re all doing our best to accommodate. Not to be missed, they also asked how we were doing. They aren’t one way relationships.
We’re also used to being in constant communication. Our kids already had group chats established. The teachers already communicate with our families weekly. Our kids have used technology to communicate ideas. They know how to find us and vice versa and we know how to get work done without being physically present.
Our teachers are also used to being trusted and having creative license. They aren’t forced to follow a specific curriculum or way of work so this was no different. They have the same agency that we want for our kids. They are in the habit of having to be creative and understanding what their kids need. They don’t just pull out the unit from last year, they adjust every week.
The kids see the value…and the values. We talk about real world values often. They have a different perspective of grades and time usage. They know this could be an opportunity. An opportunity to slack off or to rise above-integrity, our first unit’s theme. They know that self-care and kindness are important because they are some of the lucky ones-empathy, our second unit’s theme. And if we couldn’t have asked for a more serendipitous theme, for a few weeks before we were even forced to embark on this distance learning journey, our kids were literally studying what it meant to be adaptable.
They were having experiences that they were forced to adapt in but to have fun with and problem solve. They were reading books on how other people adapt and suggestions on how to do so. They were forming their own definitions. And then Corona…what a real life lesson. We can keep coming back to those themes and ideas as we all ebb and flow throughout this experience.
The reason all of above are possible, is because we had the pre-existing culture. However, the most important reason logistically is because our cohorts only have 10 kids in them.
It is unrealistic to expect any one human to provide those same services to 25, 40, or 140 students and families.
It is unrealistic to expect students, families, and teachers to adapt immediately if they don’t have similar systems in place.
We know we’re some of the lucky ones. We miss each other. We can find the silver lining right now. We know we’re still in the thick of it. But what a gift this would be if on a larger scale if more educational systems took the time to reevaluate what really is important.