We started Continuous Learning thinking it would be a two week thing. Ha! It ended up being 13 weeks. But so many things that we started in this week laid the foundation for the entire Continuous Learning experience. Teachers had two days of professional learning and were ready (kind of) to go. But this video was the first time the kids and parents really heard what the learning would look like.
I started making these videos on a whim. I just know middle school don’t read all the things. But maybe if they heard me talk a critical mass would know what is up.
The Big Idea: Same, same but different
The way we introduced this kids was helping them realize that being online has similarities to being in school. We really wanted the kids to feel confident as they started learning online. The similarities included 9AM morning tutor, using Google Classroom, using school appropriate language, teachers are there for you, asking for help. We knew things would be vastly different, but it was vital that the kids felt secure in some things. So we stressed with kids (and teachers) that somethings stayed the same…we were YIS and would continue learning even if we closed school.
Big Reflection Months Later:
The very best decision we made was making sure every single morning started with morning tutor (you might call it homeroom or advisory). One — it provided a reason to get out of bed every morning. Secondly, morning tutor became a home base, a community, and a place to figure things out for the day. And the nine tutors ended up being superheroes throughout the weeks of campus closure. No matter how messy things got or how how disengaged kids may have become, the kids turned up to tutor every morning.
The tutor program is key. I think like most schools, we are realizing moving forward we need a culture of voice and choice…kids can handle it and we don’t know when the next emergency situation will happen. And if we want to do anything in terms of flexible time or personalized learning, it’s important that kids have someone who knows them. Tutors challenged some kids, supported all kids, and bent over backwards to make sure no kid got lost in the shuffle. As we move forward, it’s imperative that we develop skills of tutors, increase collaboration between tutors, and give tutor time the time it deserves.
We really struggled to figure out balance between synchronous and synchronous sessions. We started with only morning sessions and then independent work time rest of day. Many people wanted more sync sessions, as that felt the most similar to what we were used to. We would continue to tweak this throughout the CLP…but we did know that being online 9-4 wouldn’t work for teachers or kids. We would need to increase professional learning that would support asynchronous learning and probably something we could continue to focus on.
I think I started doing this and caring what my hair looked like and what I was wearing. My nails are manicured. We will witness a decline in pride throughout the next 13 weeks.
I ended the video saying, “we can’t wait to see you after spring break”. Poor innocent vice principal…