The spread of the Coronavirus has surely led to big, quick changes in most of our lives. Along with colleagues in other schools, at Schechter Manhattan we made the enormous shift from physical classroom to distance learning in just a few days. Our parents and students have seen this in great detail, and with such a big endeavor underway, it feels appropriate to share with our larger community of family and friends.
We knew from the start of our planning for distance learning that it would be important for us to maintain the student-centered, active, purpose driven learning that is at the heart of our school, even as we would be implementing the learning activities and community building through online tools. We wanted to make sure that we approached the project of distance learning in developmentally appropriate ways, so that all of our students, K through 8, would be able to engage successfully across their diverse needs. And while we would be leveraging amazing 21st century tools, we also recognized the many ways in which technology and screen-time can be overstimulating and distracting for students. We do not think it appropriate for our students to be on-line all day long.
So our talented and hard working faculty designed a distance learning program to meet these aspirations. The distance learning includes a balance between synchronous (simultaneous) and asynchronous (on your own time) learning. Every grade has a schedule of learning for each day, with some activities requiring screen-time and others requiring work away from the computer.
The best way to get an idea of how this all works is to check out some samples from the distance learning program.
Sample Daily Learning Plans: Each evening the teachers are sending home a learning plan for the day to come, including all of the directions, materials, and digital tools needed for the learning activities.
Seventh Grade (Our Middle School students are using Google Classroom to manage assignments and communications with teachers- so the Daily Learning Plan does not need to include all the details of their work.)
Sample Daily Schedules: Teachers have provided students and parents with suggested schedules for their day, to help structure their time.
Sample Teacher videos: Teachers are creating videos of instruction so that students can watch and learn at their time and pace.
In addition, the students gather multiple times each day by Zoom video conference, for classes and community building.
We are new to distance learning and expect to make adjustments in the days ahead. I am so grateful for the professionalism, care, and tireless work of our faculty Under the leadership of our Principal, Gary Pretsfelder, they are succeeding at excellent teaching within this new distance learning model.