Look at that. Two weeks in a row being back with our blog. Consistency. Boy, that feels good.
Today is also our first day back to school for the 2020-21 academic school year.
We are on as scheduled, because we’ve been working all summer long to make this possible.
Personally, I truthfully can’t remember a summer that I haven’t traveled. That’s obviously in part due to the pandemic but also because there just wasn’t time.
You saw last week how we used the last three months of the school year to finish strong with our students. But you have no idea how much harder we worked over the last (almost) three months of summer to make this year even happen.
Literally hundreds of hours. Every week, long days, into nights, and almost every weekend were spent preparing for today and for this year.
For the first month and a half, we were physically redesigning our space. We continued to connect and plan with our families. Which required sharing and listening to one another’s comfort levels and personal family needs. Our teachers were planning content that could transfer between virtual and in person learning scenarios and thinking through the myriad of scenarios that could present themselves this year.
By mid-July, our families and teachers knew who their teachers/classmates were, what the academic overview would look like, our health and safety plan and processes, and a specific plan/schedule for in person and virtual learning.
That gave an entire month for our families to coordinate the logistics of how to make things work for their individual family.
That gave teachers time to connect with each of their students and their families.
Which then gave everyone time to get familiar with platforms, schedules, send video orientations, and to have even already had our separate, cohort family orientations to simply connect and share a few moments of positive anticipation together. Before the school year has even begun.
We get it. No one has walked this road yet and we have no idea how it will turn out for any of us. But then again, do any of us really ever know what the next moment may bring?
I am biased. But I am proud of the thoughtfulness, flexibility, and dedication that all of our Indi-ED community have invested so that we can move forward together with a level of clarity and understanding and free of the stress that so many teachers and families are dealing with at this time.
In short, our K-1 students are returning in person to Indi-ED for a shortened day to start. The families were ready and their teacher understands their developmental needs at this time. There are a variety of outdoors plans that will be woven in to make sure that the kids can still be safe, but that their teacher can still work her magic.
Our 3-6 cohort will be taking their classroom outdoors to our local parks. Their teacher originally planned to teach our themes of courage, compassion, and connection through Lewis & Clark’s Expedition and the Civil Rights Movement. Now she’s adjusting to incorporate hiking and a variety of outdoor adventures in addition to serve as experiential launch days for her students and will then conduct follow up lessons virtually to slowly help her students navigate online learning platforms.
Because most of our middle and high school families preferred the virtual option to start, they will learning via live lessons on a schedule that mirror what a traditional school day would look like. In addition to one on one calls, they will also have weekly, optional, in person, at school meeting opportunities for lessons and connection time.
They’ll tackle American History, Racism, Anti-racism, Physics, English, Pre-Algebra through Algebra II, Videography, Coding, a community service project, and of course their inquiry projects that have the potential to lean more towards portfolio projects and career skills that may even help some of them start earning their own income as soon as next summer.
This pandemic has illuminated the systemic issues that exist in education that we have been speaking out about for years now.
Will everything work perfectly? Never does for anyone.
Will we have an exposure to COVID? Very likely, like everyone else.
But are we starting strong, connected, and prepared? You bet.
No one could we have created all of this in two weeks like so many educators and parents are being asked to.
This is not an attempt to boast, but to demonstrate solutions that are possible. But to also illustrate that they require an entire re frame of how we approach education in this country.
We look forward to checking in next week to continue the dialogue.