I apologize for the length of this post. I wanted to have all information for you in one place. I have bolded sub-headings to make it easier to navigate this document.
Over this past week, I hope that your families have been able to take a moment to breathe deeply, catch up a bit, and recharge. We are living in extraordinary times. Thankfully, the number of New Yorkers being diagnosed and hospitalized with Covid-19 is dropping. However, we still have far too many people who are ill or are becoming ill and so social-distancing will continue to be required until at least the middle of May. Our economy continues to be battered by social-distancing and unemployment numbers are skyrocketing.
Families in our community are impacted by this state of affairs. Adults and children are under stress as they navigate family illnesses, remaining indoors, and the financial fallout. Even those who do not seem to be impacted are experiencing emotional stress.
Providing emotional support through stability and consistency of relationships is one of our most important tasks right now.
As we all know by now, remote learning is very different than learning at school in a traditional “brick and mortar” setting. While you are learning to monitor your children’s learning and also working at home, teachers are learning to work from home while caring for family members, locating resources online, repurposing tools they have at home for teaching, and honing their digital teaching skills.
Our faculty have been hard at work all week revising remote learning structures to respond to parent and student feedback, evolving DOE policies, the research on remote learning, and the importance of supporting children emotionally through this difficult time. We are launching “Remote Learning v. 2.0” on Monday.
Grade teams will be sharing revised schedules with families this weekend. Key shifts you will notice are about scheduling and methods of teaching. It is our plan that these shifts will help students and parents have a better understanding of expectations, organize their schedules more effectively, and maintain a strong connection to our school community.
In order to reduce screen time, help with executive functioning and organization, and accommodate the various scheduling constraints at home, we have reworked the schedules for students. We also looked at available best practices on scheduling remote learning for children at different grade levels. The common recommendations are that we limit online time to no more than 3 hours for our oldest students with significantly less online time for younger students. Students also will have offline work, such as independent reading and writing. The instructional day at home is different than the instructional day at school. Learning at home should also include chores and play. Don’t forget to schedule those as well.
Live and video-based teaching
Faculty are planning for a blend of video-based, asynchronous teaching, and live, synchronous teaching. The bulk of teaching will be asynchronous through curated resources and teacher-created lessons. There will also be regularly scheduled face to face meetings via Google Meets to foster a sense of community and connection with staff and to provide small group lessons and/or office hours as age-appropriate.
Our faculty spent this past week looking at student work, the standards, and our curriculum to plan for units moving forward. These units are selected and designed to support student skill development, knowledge, and independence. I am confident that your children will finish the school year engaged in the rich learning experiences that they are accustomed to.
Teachers are entering grades for the second term into the grading system used by the DOE. Three things about report cards this term.
- Because our switch to remote learning collided with the end of our grading period, we are encountering some technical issues. We hope to have them all resolved by the time grades are released on April 25.
- We are not including comments this term. There will be comments on the final report card. We are awaiting new DOE policies on grading.
- You will need to use your access to MySchools (mystudent.nyc/FAM) to see your children’s grades. Because we have a different reporting system for PreK, Kim and Mary Jo will be sending out report cards via email.
Counseling and Social-Emotional Support
Our two school counselors, Mara Boden (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rachel Goodman (email@example.com) are here for you and your families even while we are not at school. Please feel free to reach out to either of them if you need support. They can also connect you with community organizations that are providing support remotely. Please continue to check our social-emotional website for new resources.
Beginning the week of April 20th, Mara and Rachel will be hosting weekly school-wide mindfulness/ meditation sessions on Mondays at 2:00 PM to decompress and help decrease anxiety. The link is available in the email that went home.
Special Education Supports
We are committed to continuing to support all our students. Our staff is working to adapt lessons and instruction through multiple ways to foster learning for all students. Our ICT partnerships, paraprofessionals, academic support teachers, and related service providers are collaborating to provide instruction to meet the learning needs of our students. Asynchronous lessons allow students (and parents) to watch the instruction multiple times, to use closed captioning, and to adjust the pace of learning. We are also providing some focused small group instruction as appropriate for student learning goals and modifying expectations as needed.
Related service providers are closely observing how the students they work with are responding to tele-therapy in combination with the other learning activities they are doing with their teachers. Some students are also working with multiple related service providers. This is proving overwhelming for many and counterproductive for some. The Related Service team has determined that they need to restructure some of the services that they are providing. They will be integrating asynchronous lessons into the work with your children (video teaching OT activities, for example, that you and your child can watch repeatedly.) This will enhance the impact of a coordinated effort to deliver optimal educational supports. This relaunch of Related Services is a natural result of our introduction of Remote Learning v. 2.0.
What we ask of you
- We ask that families look at these schedules together, consider the various scheduling constraints faced by families (shared technology, different work schedules, different time zones, etc.), and then create daily schedules for each student in the family. As you create these schedules, remember to build in movement, snack, and brain breaks.
- Check attendance for your child(ren) on your MySchools account and log attendance.
- We also ask that you let us know if your child or family is struggling in any way. We are here to support you.
I spent most of the week in virtual meetings with grade teams, support staff, and other District 2 principals. At the close of each meeting, I was so grateful to work with such thoughtful, knowledgeable and caring professional educators. I am very proud of the quality of the education that 276 is providing to our students in general and remotely. I am confident this new schedule and structures will allow all the students at 276 to continue to learn and grow.
Finally, I want to share greetings from our staff. (Here is the link to Lucas’s Chargers Banjo Song.) We miss seeing you and your children and are looking forward to the time when we can come together as a community.
With warm regards,
Terri, Nico and Alexis
Students are invited to join Nico, Alexis and Terri for office hours each day. Links are available in the email that went home.
Nico from 8:00 to 8:30 am
Alexis from 12:00 to 12:30 pm
Terri’s from 3 to 3:30 pm