Inspired by a document to support homeschoolers created several years ago by Apple Gifford, Director of the Learning Center and shared with the faculty, here are some quick tips on supporting educational engagement.
- Flexibility and Patience. This is a learning process for all of us. As carefully as we teachers are planning, we are well aware we will need to make adjustments en route. Similarly, each student will be adjusting to this new learning environment at different rates and in different ways. Flexibility and patience on the part of all of us – students, teachers, and families – will help us focus on working positively through the inevitable bumps both major and minor, be these technological, academic, and/or emotional.
- Organization. Each student will need to come up with a space for remote classes that is conducive to learning, and will need and/or seek different levels of support from parents depending on age and other factors. Getting this space organized will involve different devices depending on your location and quality of service, and may involve additional materials such as books, pens, paper, art supplies, and so on. Check to see what is in the background when your student is online as this will also be visible to others in the class. This remote learning space may or may not be able to double as a study space, but any study space you and/or your student design would have similar needs. Minimizing distractions is extremely important. Phones may help if students are forming study groups and genuinely focusing on their work; at the same time, some families may prefer/need to monitor or restrict phone usage.
- Comfort – both physical and emotional. Remote learning and study spaces should be as comfortable as possible. We will be working to integrate chances for exercise and active movement into the day, and this too can contribute to emotional health. Students will probably need frequent breaks. While teachers and advisors are always conscious of the need for emotional support, families obviously play the primary and most critical role here. The more students can relax and focus on their work, the more they will learn. At the same time, learning may periodically need to take a back seat to emotional needs or family responsibilities.
- Communication. If your student needs additional support in any way, especially academic and/or emotional, encourage them to reach out to their teachers or advisor. If you see stress building over a few days, or if you have other questions and thoughts, please feel free to reach out on your own to your student’s advisor.
We are working hard to ensure students’ academic, social, and emotional needs are being met to the best of our ability. We have a strong and close community, and look forward to partnering with you all to make this period of remote learning a success.
100 Nights has come and gone and we are now in the final stretch to graduation. Tears have dried, laughter has faded, but the memories of both remain along with the vision of happy and proud seniors celebrating their connections to each other and to the entire SBS community.
International Women's Day,
Class of 2020,
In a combined middle school advisory yesterday, Sam Torres ‘08, the faculty advisor to Community Alliance, led the students in watching and discussing “I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype,” a TEDx talk by Canwen Xu.
Middle Level Education,
World Day of Social Justice
When the United States launched airstrikes that killed General Qasem Soleimani and others shortly before we returned to classes from winter break, I was pretty sure the students in my seventh grade Humanities class would want to talk about it. As I sifted through posts and articles, verifying facts, weighing opinions, I kept in mind these important precepts:
- My kids would want clarity. What were the facts of what had happened?
- My kids would want to feel safe. I can’t control world events, but I can help create a classroom atmosphere where my students could honestly say what they were thinking and feeling, knowing there would be things on which they’d all agree and other areas where they would have a range of opinions.
- My kids would want hope. Here, I often turn to Mr. Rogers’s famous dictum to “look to the helpers.” I’m also well aware that any concrete action kids can take can also be helpful.
- My kids would need the comfort of familiar routines.
In a recent meeting, the Middle School Team discussed how technology in general and social media in particular affects middle schoolers, kicking off what we envision will be a series of deep dive discussions. As always, we will rely on a mix of what experts and the research tell us, and how our day-to-day experience with the students - and conversations with families - further shapes our practice.
Middle Level Education,
There are typically thousands of people who participate in the annual Hot Chocolate Run in Northampton, Massachusetts. The event raises money for Safe Passage, which serves survivors of domestic violence; this year, the run raised $632,000. Each year, our Community Service Club organizes a group of supporters to volunteer to cheer people on.
Hot Chocolate Run,
Last night on Twitter, Sara Truebridge (author of Resilience Begins with Beliefs: Building on Student Strengths for Success in School) hosted a #ResilienceChat focused on giving thanks. As always, her questions are well thought-out, and I want to share them here in case y’all would enjoy thinking through your own answers:
Most every night, I sign off social media with the following post:
Good night, everyone. / #EverydayKindness / #Coexist
International Kindness Day,
Many of my online friends are teachers, active or retired, and many of them have recently been sharing advice urging people to give teenagers a smile and some candy if they come trick-or-treating. I love the posts, thinking, of course, of my own students but also of teenagers everywhere, every one of them somebody’s kid.