It’s hard to believe that it’s only been five days since we began Learning at Home! Thank you to the many families who have reached out with feedback and suggestions. Some families have asked for more, some for less, and some families have shared that their child’s experience has been exactly what s/he needs. I am going to remind you to start small and celebrate the little wins. I am also going to give you permission to interact with the Learning at Home materials in a way that best meets the needs of your family – this might mean that you are opting out of assignments and teacher suggestions, and that’s okay.
This will be the only informational email that I send this week, so please flag this email to read when you have time. I’ll send out another short video on Friday to celebrate the completion of week two!
I’m going to offer three different ways to structure the day and the week for your child. I will also share the schoolwide expectations for teacher/student and teacher/homeroom interaction over the next few weeks, so that you know what to expect moving forward. And finally, I will close with a short reminder that we are here to help you and your family as we navigate this uncertain time.
Structuring a day or a week for your child
By now, many of you have figured out how much bandwidth your family has for supporting online learning. You also have a good idea of what times of the day are busiest for your family, and how much work you can expect out of your child on a good day.
Here are three options:
*You do not interact with any of the online materials or the DCPS packet. You carve out time each day for reading, writing, and math. You make sure that your child is reading for 20-45 minutes (based on age) and discussing the reading with a family member. This can also include listening to an audio book or reading a chapter book as a family. You make time for 15-30 minutes of math practice every day – counting, practicing math facts, or a math game. And, you make time for 15-30 minutes of writing every day – this includes writing fictions stories, writing letters to relatives, or writing informational stories. This structure ensures practice of foundational skills and allows for a lot of flexibility. Please note that your child’s teacher will still reach out on a weekly basis to check on your family.
*Your child completes the DCPS packet. This does not require time online and allows a degree of flexibility each day. You also make sure to set aside time to read to your child or to allow them independent reading time. This structure might be used if your child can work independently for short periods of time and/or if the number of devices that you have in your house is limited. Again, teachers will be checking in on a weekly basis to make sure that your family is doing okay.
*Your child interacts with the online materials and completes what s/he can. This might mean that your child is only completing math assignments one week, and then completing reading assignments the next week. As with the other options, we strongly recommend daily reading practice. You also might choose to log-in to Teams on Mondays and work on the posted assignments during the first part of the week, and then stay offline for the remainder of the week to work on the DCPS packet. The important thing is that you create a consistent schedule and that your child completes a manageable amount of work.
What you can expect for your child’s teacher
We are slowly transitioning to the Teams platform. I know that there have been some issues with student log-ins and that the learning curve is steep right now. One of the benefits for having the entire school opt-in to one consistent platform is that we can ensure instructional continuity for your child. If a teacher becomes ill or needs to take a few days off for personal reasons, another staff member can step in and support your child vis this platform. Again, the learning curve is steep right now, but it will get easier.
By the end of this week, every child should have been given the opportunity to connect with his or her teacher via video chat or to schedule a video check-in for the upcoming week. Every homeroom teacher has also practiced posting files to the Teams page. If you cannot log-in or you cannot see files, please reach out to your child’s teacher and we can work through the issues.
Moving forward, here is what you and your child can expect:
*All homeroom teachers will schedule two whole class meetings per week. These will be on the same day and at the same time each week. Your child might have a lunch check-in on Wednesdays, and a Morning Meeting on Fridays. The purpose of these meetings is to offer the entire class a chance to be online at the same time. Teachers will use either Zoom or Teams to schedule these meetings.
*All homeroom teachers will schedule one video check-in with your child per week, most likely in a small group. Teachers are gradually moving towards this expectation, so your child might not have had their video check-in just yet. Our fourth and fifth grade students will be given the opportunity to participate in consistent video “office hours” with their teachers each week. The purpose of these meetings is to provide some academic feedback or support, but also to see how your child is doing emotionally and provide support as needed.
*All homeroom teachers will provide some form of written feedback to your child once per week on their work. For most children, this will include comments on work uploaded to Teams or comments on their work on RazKids or iReady.
*All teachers will post a brief Morning Message on Teams each day by 9am and any daily or weekly assignments will be posted by that time as well. The class message boards should be open daily from 9am-3pm and teachers are prepared to answer questions as they arise.
Finally, it is important to note that we will not be moving towards synchronous learning anytime soon – synchronous leaning means that all students are learning together at the same time each day. This means that teachers will not host class wide math, reading, or writing lessons at a certain time each day. Rather, teachers will be uploading short videos or Powerpoint presentations of daily lessons and read alouds.
You can do this!
I know that for many of us, our current situation seems overwhelming and exhausting. Many of you are feeling like you are failing as parents, as work colleagues, and maybe even as neighbors. Now more than ever, we need to be kind to one another and most importantly, kind to ourselves. We will get through this together. Remember to start small and celebrate the little wins. Eventually, we will settle into a routine and the emails won’t be so lengthy and the tech issues won’t seem so insurmountable. Each family will move at their own pace and find success in their own way. Know that we are here to support you and we look forward to celebrating with you.
Stay healthy, stay well, and stay in touch. We miss you!