Online education has changed this school year dramatically.
We chatted with experts from Indian Creek School, The Key School and Severn School in a panel discussion about the successes of their online learning efforts.
Third Floor Views host Janet Jefferson spoke with three private school administrators about how Maryland private schools are adapting to online eductaion. We spoke with Brian Michaels, Upper School Division Head at the Key School; Kelly Wilson, Director of Studies for Middle and Upper School at Severn School; and Sarah Allen, Director of Teaching and Learning at Indian Creek School to find out what’s working, what isn’t, and what schools and teachers are expecting from families.
Janet Jefferson (00:02):
Welcome to Third Floor Views where we at Chesapeake Family Life talk about health, education and living with kids. I’m your host, Janet Jefferson. We are today continuing with our live interview series, which covers the ups and downs of pandemic parenting. Today we’re talking about how some Maryland private schools are adapting to COVID 19 by bringing the classroom online. We will discuss how online education has changed this school year, what is working, what isn’t, what success looks like, and what schools and teachers are expecting from families. This is an opportunity to learn from these schools and see what we as parents, educators and administrators can incorporate into our own experience. Here with us today are Brian Michaels, the Upper School Division Head at the Key School. Kelly Wilson, Director of Studies for Middle and Upper School at Severn School and Sarah Allen, Director of Teaching and Learning at Indian Creek School. Thank you for being here today. Let’s jump right in. I want to start with what is working for everyone. Specifically, how are you measuring your success and then also how are you measuring your students’ success? Brian, let’s start with you.
Brian Michaels (01:27):
Sure. First of all, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to get together. Boy, it’s been a lot, right? We’re seven weeks in, I believe this is the end of our seventh week and we’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to see how we’re doing and how our students, faculty and families are doing. I think the main thing we’re doing in terms of measuring success is around gauging mental health. How are our students feeling? How are they adjusting to this new norm? How are our faculty doing with the really intense professional and personal challenges that this brings? So I think gauging mental health, I think shifting to model of assessing students in a formative way around their problems process, not necessarily around the outcome. We launched, like many other schools a rather significant parent survey, which allowed us to get a number of good pieces of feedback and kind of look at it thematically in terms of how we can evolve and iteratively change the program as we go. And I guess just supporting students and getting to the phase where we can really be there for them in addition to just thinking about the curriculum and the distance learning program. So I guess those are a couple of initial thoughts.
Janet Jefferson (02:44):
Yeah, definitely. How about you Sarah? What’s going on in terms of your successes?
Sarah Allen (02:49):
Thank you for having me. We were in a really fortunate position. In 2014 we launched enrichment blended program called BLinc. And so this really allowed us to know what works well in an online environment. Where are those opportunities to provide the offline learning? How can we still incorporate hands on learning? So we brought all of those lessons into our planning for virtual school. We really took those fundamentals of our mission and made sure that they were represented in our virtual program. So student centered academics, community and relationship building and making sure we were providing our students with personalized learning experiences. We’ve also worked really hard to find a balance between asynchronous, which is the learning at your own pace and the synchronous learning, which is live learning with the teacher. We wanted to make sure that our kids had enough stamina to make it through the virtual school day and not tiring them out with too much synchronous, but really allowing them those opportunities to work at their own pace. We’ve also really tried to find opportunities for student voice and choice so that they felt that our students feel empowered and a part of that learning process and that they have some control in the situations. We’ve also worked really hard to make sure our kids feel connected to each other and to their teachers, so we started using our synchronous time less for kind of the academic instruction, but more for that time for students just to be connected and be together and to have those really rich discussions that happen during our face to face learning. And for our younger grades, we really looked for opportunities for small group learning, so in our younger grades we’ve started doing small group reading instruction because that’s such a hallmark of the primary experience of being able to be at the reading table and go through those guided reading experiences. We’ve also looked for opportunities to have really consistent office hours for our students, especially in our upper grades so they can they every single day they know first period and sixth period, they can have that one on one time or small group time with their teacher. In terms of measuring our success, we really look at it from multiple lenses, so we always start with our students. How are they doing? How are they feeling? Are they engaged in their coursework? Are they feeling stressed by their coursework? Where are they finding success and where are they finding obstacles? So we’ve surveyed our students. We’ve had one on one conversations and advisory with our students and we’ve just really tried to listen to their pulse and how they are feeling so that we can make the absolute best decisions for them. We also look to our tremendous faculty and staff. Where are they finding success? What tools are working, what strategies are working, where are they seeing those light bulb moments that we all weld as educators and then of course turning to our families. Where are they finding success with virtual school? Where are they running into obstacles and so we’ve used surveys, conversations, and we’re really excited. In the next two weeks we’re launching a family engagement series of webinars and interactive town halls to really hear from our families firsthand, not just in a survey format, but to hear firsthand how are they doing, how can we support them more, and how can we make this the best possible experience for our students in terms of student success, we’re really just looking at, just like Brian said, that formative assessment, really making sure we’re giving our kids the feedback that they can take away that’s personal, actionable, and relevant and really looking at how we assess. In this particular iteration we’re using pass fail, but as we look to the Fall and we think about if we’re still in a virtual model in the Fall, if we’re in a more blended model by Fall, we’ll be rolling out a new assessment system at that point. But just really being nimble and flexible and just keeping our students and families and teachers at the heart of everything we do.
Janet Jefferson (06:18):
Yeah, that makes them a lot of sense. So I’m starting to hear some common threads as mental health being a priority, a lot of feedback with surveys and even one-on-one feedback and then whatever it may be in terms of enrichment being blended and making sure that there’s consistency too, which I think is really important for students. So Kelly, what else is working for you guys at Severn? What things have been a great success for you?
Kelly Wilson (06:43):
I think one of the things that’s been a great success for us is the fact that we’ve kind of kept our schedule and provided kids with that sense of continuity of experience for our teachers as well. Having the classes that are a bit shorter and we’ve tried to put in some breaks, but overall we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from our parents and students that’s helped them stay motivated to continue the work and our attendance, which is to me one of our measures of success has been at the same level, if not higher than when we were brick and mortar. We began five to six years ago when we really improved our summer professional development series for our faculty. We’ve been offering classes on how do you teach classes online. We’re a part of a program called Malone Schools Online Network where we currently have students that take classes asynchronously or synchronously already and we have teachers that teach in that program. So we have some in house expertise on how do you do this kind of remote virtual learning. Well in the sense that our head of school started thinking about this beginning of March and we did some training with our teachers on how do we shift this before we went on a spring break. We had the last two weeks of spring break in March and we came back and kind of ready to hit the ground running. And we created remote learning guides for our parents and students and also for our faculty to put forth clear expectations on what we wanted, from all from all parties and how we thought this would work. We’ve held town hall meetings with every single grade level. We have an Ambassador’s Check In program that has made at least two phone calls to every single family that we have and gotten feedback from them. And that’s been invaluable. And that’s really one of our measures of success is the comments that we received from them talking about how they feel like we’re really on top of it and that the kids are still learning and engaging.
Janet Jefferson (09:00):
That’s great. Kelly, let’s start with you and talk a little bit about what have you tried that maybe hasn’t worked.
Kelly Wilson (09:08):
I think one of the things that you find through this process is that there’s a little bit of natural fatigue that comes from attending these zoom sessions or trying to do this type of work online. So one of the things, we started saying like, Hey, we’re going to be five days a week and now we’re kind of backing off and taking one day a week where we’re not holding classes. It’s just to allow people to just get their breath, get away from the screen a little bit. So that’s one of the things that we’ve found. And then we did modify our grading philosophy. We are continuing to grade, but what we do is we put in place a lower limit so they couldn’t have a grade less than their third quarter or mid-semester point. And so they have the opportunities to continue to raise their grade, but we didn’t want to disadvantage any students by this new environment affecting how they learn. And so we put that lower cap on it.
Janet Jefferson (10:07):
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I’m sure is reassuring to students. Sarah, what about you? What have you tried that has not worked?
Sarah Allen (10:14):
So far we’ve broken with something that’s been really helpful. We even look at our virtual school in terms of kind of sessions, so two and a half weeks. So at each of those marks we can reevaluate and things that have been challenging we can really innovate solutions to. Our school schedule did not translate well into our virtual school. We have a rotating schedule and they were having a hard time knowing kind of when the synchronous meetings were and keeping up with the schedule. So we made two really important shifts and our lower school, we moved to a four plus one model, similar to what Kelly is speaking up. So four days a week our students are doing their core classes. So that’s reading, math, science and social studies. And then on that fifth day, our students are doing their co-curricular classes. So art, music, Spanish research, lab, PE. Our co-curricular classes are really important to us at Indian Creek. And we wanted to make sure that the students really had time to focus on that. What we were finding is that we had time at the end of the day for those students to work on that, but they were so fatigued that they weren’t getting to some of those really important art lessons and Spanish lessons. So we wanted to move those over to a separate day so that our kids could really jump in and enjoy STEM lab and enjoy art. And then on those four days, really focus in on their core classes. Our primary, our pre-kindergarten and our kindergarten, we stopped dating our learning plans. Parents were feeling a lot of pressure that if they didn’t get everything done on the dated learning plan that they needed to kind of pick that up the next day or sacrifice something to get it done. And we really want it to be flexible and responsive to every one of our family’s needs. So instead of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we just say some learning plan day one, day two, day three, day 4, day 5 so Saturday and Sunday are the day they really want to jump in and do that hands on lesson outside they have that flexibility. And we took that pressure off of them. And that was from direct feedback from our families. And for upper school we just moved to two synchronous classes a day to help with that fatigue and then two sets of office hours a day. So the kids have that balance of live teacher interaction and then also that one on one attention just to make sure that we really have that balance between synchronous and asynchronous and online and offline so that our kids really feel empowered by the process, not fatigued by the process.
Janet Jefferson (12:21):
What about you Brian? What maybe hasn’t worked so well?
Brian Michaels (12:24):
I heard Sarah used words like nimble and flexible and I think those are mantras for how we have to engage in schools and affect systems. I think you need to be willing to dump stuff that doesn’t work. We were using an LMS or learning management system, which is kind of like your tech hub for seeing homework and seeing what’s assigned and it just didn’t have the bandwidth to keep up with the national pressure of everybody being online. So while it had worked with us prior to distance learning, we dumped it and I felt like we had to and it has helped us and now using Google classroom as a much more fluid tool that matches with Google suite that a lot of our school uses. I think two other things come to mind. We have a system at our school called labs and they’re built in student supports in addition to the academic time at school. And so we didn’t start with those because we thought it’d be too much pressure on the kids and on the faculty and probably a couple of weeks in, we got that going and it’s been a great additional support to students academically and also to have that one on one time and small group time with teachers because socialization right now is huge. It’s the commodity, right? It’s, we can, we don’t want to be staring at screens the whole time and we want to be able though to connect with our peers and our friends and our colleagues. So we’ve really been ramping those kinds of things up. And I guess the last thing I’ll share, and Kelly and Sarah have shared it too, is just to run that balance between synchronicity and asynchronicity, which are our education terms for when you’re taking a class with a teacher live or when you’re doing a video or an interactive slide show on your own time. And so in different divisions in our school, we’ve adjusted in different ways for the developmental level of those students to not create fatigue but to know that it’s there and to adjust to it. So those have been ways that we have tried to move around some of the natural obstacles and presenting an education that is very unlike anything we do each day and trying to bring those elements that we think are valuable to it.
Janet Jefferson (14:33):
Definitely. Thanks Brian. What role do you as educators and administrators want parents to play in this process? Sarah, let’s start with you at Indian Creek. I think parents right now, some parents are feeling so frustrated and overwhelmed about not only trying to juggle home life and their own job, but also just the stress of the world right now. So what is sort of your expectation ideally for parents to play? Or maybe any tips that you would have say like, don’t worry about this. It’s not worth it.
Sarah Allen (15:05):
Absolutely. So I think as in all schools, our families are just such a crucial part of our school community. Prior to moving to virtual school, we really focused on sending homeschool connections and using our learning management system to connect to families. And so I think our families were kind of used to that homeschool connection model. But more than anything, we want them to feel supported, engaged. And especially right now because of the lack of social interaction, a part of the larger ICS community. So when we planned our virtual school out, we wanted to be just really knowledgeable of what every type of situation a family could be in. We really wanted to make sure our program was flexible, fair and manageable. In terms of flexible, we wanted families to know if they couldn’t work on something in a certain time, it was okay to do it later. It’s okay to reach out and say, we’re just not going to get to this today. And in those moments, we encourage that. We wanted it to be fair so that the students know exactly what their expectations are. So, like Kelly said, we made family guides and teacher guides so that everyone knew what their role was and what was expected of them. And then we really wanted it to be manageable. So in that vein we made sure, and we continue to make sure that when our teachers are assigning work that we’re encouraging self-advocacy and independence. Even in our youngest learners with threes and fours, we tried to make sure we were using those predictable school routines so those kids can lead that learning if it’s circle time. They know those songs, they know those routines. So from our youngest learners to our oldest learners, we were intentional and continue to be intentional in the work that we give to them so that they can build that independence. So if a parent needs to get on and do their own Zoom call and their own work, they know their child could work independently. We also tried to make sure the technology we were using was familiar so that our kids could jump right in. We didn’t want kids to have to spend a lot of time or parents spend a lot of time to learn how to use technology. We wanted them to use that technology that we use every day in the classroom. We also created a new student life team that has created some engagement events for family. So families that are looking for that connection. We’ve done a Creek time capsule where kids have made individual kind of time capsules of this time, spirit days this week with a dance challenge. So those parents that are looking for those connections, there were opportunities. So for those parents that are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, we really want them to know and we continue, this is kind of our mantra, just flexible, fair and manageable. And that we understand that there are going to be days or weeks where the load might not be manageable and we want to be there for them. And so we just really encourage our families to work with us in terms of a partnership and reach out when they’re feeling like that so that we can come up with a plan. In our fifth and sixth grade, some of our kids and families were feeling overwhelmed. So we paired individual kids up with individual teachers and they check on them every day. They call them on teams every morning. Set that learning plan out so that those families can get that support to build those independence and self advocacy skills.
Janet Jefferson (17:56):
That makes a lot of sense. Kelly, how about you? What would you like to see parents doing?
Kelly Wilson (18:02):
Yeah, I think it really depends upon the grade level. We are pre K through 12 school and it definitely varies by division. For our lower ones from pre-K through through fifth grade, we understand and we are also very flexible in allowing them to watch the recordings of the classes later in the day, do the activities when it makes sense for them. Because obviously those parents have to be a lot more hands on than in the middle school and upper levels. Even for middle school it becomes a little bit of we do need you a little bit to be a kind of Proctor here every once in a while just to make sure your kid’s staying on task, versus when they’re in the upper school and the kids start to be more independent. It’s kind of a little bit more like school as usual. Are you checking our LMS system, to make sure that they’re keeping up with things, looking at the communications? We have our own tile where it’s all updates about remote learning and coronavirus updates. In the beginning, before we ever went live, we reached out to families to say, do you have any tech needs, everything from wifi or computers. Did they need that? We make sure that they all had what they needed. We did Zoom training sessions with our faculty and with kids and for us, our learning management system has been a godsend for us because it’s been where we have always communicated with our students on expectations and we also load a lot of our content and material and topics pages behind it. So we invite and parents can see this as well so they can follow along with the curriculum if they need to, to be able to support their child. I think it’s just an ongoing partnership between us and them as it always is. And for us, we reach out to them with like these, like the town hall meetings and touching base with phone calls to make sure that we know what any potential problems are. We have guided study hall for those students who need additional support. And so they’re continuing to meet live with those kids every single day, to make sure that they know what challenges they’re seeing. And I think that would be the same with parents is just, still trust us. That we got this for the most part. But again, it definitely depends based on the division level.
Janet Jefferson (20:29):
That makes a lot of sense. There’s no way that you could expect to do some of these independent activities with younger students and then high schoolers need that freedom and feel like they’re trusted to really be successful. And then middle schoolers, of course, it really depends on where they are and that’s going to be based on the individual. Brian, what about you? What do you really want to see the parent play in this whole scenario?
Brian Michaels (20:57):
I have two kids at Key, one in the upper school, one in the middle school. And so I watched that experience as a parent and it helps inform how I think about it. But I think the best piece of information I got was from my brother. He has two kids. He lives out in San Francisco and we were chatting about things and he said to me, Brian, you’ve been in schools for a long time. What do I do? I don’t know how to teach. I’ve got my kids and I want to support them, I just don’t know how to do it. So I spent some time just talking him down about just finding balance with his children. I think there’s three things. One is making sure I want parents to let us know what their child’s experiences and we have some amazing school counselors at our school that are access points for our families to let them know how both their child is doing, but also how they’re doing as a parent. One of the ones I know our faculty are talking to parents all the time to give them advice. One of the calls I remember from a couple of weeks ago is a parent who said, my child is just sitting in their room and just doing work for how hours after hours. And I think it helped after the parent and I spent some time talking about well what, what was good about their schedule when they were at school on campus and how can we mimic that at their house? And so that led to figuring out how to use blocks of time in the day, how to chunk assignments, how to mimic both lunch and activities and wellness and getting work done. So I think the finding a schedule and helping your child find balance are key. And I guess the last thing is my wife and I like to watch Jimmy Fallon and he’s got his kids running around on that show and it’s all about self care. So I would encourage parents to take care of themselves, try to try to create that sanity in a very tough experience. And I think that is probably one of the best ways that they can help their children is by finding that opportunity for self care for them.
Janet Jefferson (22:56):
That’s so true. Sanity seems to be hard to find these days. One of our viewers asked, what about teachers? How are teachers managing all of this? So thinking about your coworkers or people that are working for you and your faculty, your staff that are actually making this happen on a daily basis, how are they doing and what sort of tools and techniques are they using to manage this? Kelly, can we start with you?
Kelly Wilson (23:28):
Sure. So I think one of the things we do as administrators is make sure that we’re reaching out to them and touching base with them and making sure that they’re okay and what they need. But part of it, like when we created the guidelines, we stress with them that you didn’t need to do every class. And it’s also okay to let go of a little content at this time of year, even though our kids are continuing to learn and think about what’s most critical and it’s okay, it’s going to be a little bit slower in this pace and different ways. But overall I think the teachers appreciate what we call our snow days, our days off just as much as the kids do. And we really encourage them to use them as snow days, as much as they can and to to take time out to go outside and our counseling staff also is really great and reaching out to them and and offering like, Hey, you’re having a moment. We’re here for you as well. So we have counselors in all three divisions that are helping them.
Janet Jefferson (24:28):
That makes a lot of sense. Those counselors I’m sure are very busy right now. Brian, what do you think about your teachers? How are they managing the situation?
Brian Michaels (24:37):
The word that comes to mind is it’s impressive what they’ve done. I teach a class. My background is in science and I teach an oceanography elective and I’m seeing a little bit of it as a teacher, but really it’s just one section and primarily I’m an administrator, but I think they’re adjusting. I think they’re trying to find time to support their own families and friends and loved ones and those that might be sick while they’re also trying to support the students. I think they’re thinking a lot about volume and pace. Those are words we use a lot. So they’re thinking a lot about volume and pace. We talk about that quite a bit. We have lessened the volume. We know that that will have some impacts coming into the fall, but we know a lot is up in the air for the fall as well. And we’re trying to create hybrid approaches and contingencies to be ready for that. The pace of the classroom has to change. And so we’re pulling back on the time with the students and letting them have some more asynchronous time. I don’t know how those who have young kids and teach do this. Mine are 14 and 12 and I feel like I’m stretched even with that. So we do spend a lot of time, I try to help those teachers, hear them out and how I can help them adjust their schedules and plans. But it is a huge task. And more than anything, I hear our head of school thank them for that and I try to do the same because it is unfathomable what they’re trying to do.
Janet Jefferson (26:18):
I can definitely understand, especially with small children myself. It’s been an interesting balancing act. Sarah, how about you? How are teachers at Indian Creek managing?
Sarah Allen (26:29):
They are just absolutely remarkable. Anything that comes their way, they just jump right in and do it with such grace and with such kindness and empathy. It’s just as an administrator it’s just completely heartwarming to watch in action when we know what Brian and Kelly have said, they have little kids at home and they’re just absolutely remarkable. We’ve really stepped up our professional development and try to provide weekly sessions, and then most importantly just drop in sessions so that whatever’s on their mind, they can come talk to us about it. And our weekly faculty meetings, we do shout outs so that we’re not just focusing on the change, but some of the really positive things that are happening and encouraging everyone to reach out to each other. And as we’re doing shout outs, we encourage our teachers to give each other shout outs just to continue to build each other up. But we’re really looking at the best way to support them. And so we’ve even added things and we have Monday morning coffees where we just talk about movies and TV and books just so they can kind of feel that wonderful feel that they feel in the teacher’s lounge when they kind of just get to be with their colleagues. So really balancing this, nurturing their souls, and then encouraging them as they take on this tremendous work and just make us so incredibly proud doing the wonderful work they do every day.
Janet Jefferson (27:41):
It’s a lot. My heart goes out to all the teachers right now. My last question is a little bit of an existential one and the big question is this an acceptable alternative? Granted, we’re in a pandemic right now, so we’re making the best of a challenging situation, but is there a silver lining to this? Is this something that you’re going to carry on in the future? Even once we’re out of the pandemic? And is this something that you’re fairly happy with in terms of like, well yes, we’re in this challenging time right now, but it’s going pretty well. So what do you see the future of your school’s education looking like? And I know many of you have sort of hinted at some hybrid opportunities either coming up or in the past or in the future. So just what do you think, where are you going in terms of education? Let’s start with you Sarah.
Sarah Allen (28:38):
Awesome. So we have long believed in this blended model because what we see when kids are getting to work at their own pace and then getting to check in with their teacher so that they’re developing these lifelong transferable skills, self-advocacy, leadership and dependence and those qualities and traits are just so important as they move into higher ed or wherever their path may lead them. So we are so excited that this summer we really want to offer a continuity of learning for our students and for students in the community. So we have launched a new summer term that’s balancing kind of three different approaches to learning. So there are enrichment classes that are just for the joy of learning and we have mini movie makers, writing your college essay, all kinds of classes that are enrichment. We also have foundational classes for our students that want to either bolster those core academic skills or get enrichment in those core academic skills. A time to connect with their teachers, keep up those academic skills. And then we have acceleration classes for our students. You want to take on a full credit class but then open up their upper school schedule to take on a new or exciting elective. So we’re just really excited to see where the blended learning is and we just know there’s so much potential because when we focus with student learning at the heart of an experience, we know that our kids are going to benefit and we know our families are going to benefit. So we’re just really excited for what’s ahead.
Janet Jefferson (29:52):
That’s awesome. That’s really encouraging. What about at Severn, what do you see the future looking like?
Kelly Wilson (29:58):
Well, this year alone we actually launched our first online asynchronous class for our students here on campus and we had four teachers partnered together to create this Harlem Renaissance class. And so we were already also looking at the future and saying there’s one in three college students that will take a class online. And so we wanted our kids to have this type of experience before they head off to their next stage. Truthfully, I mean we really missed the kids and of course we want them in person, but I also know that our teachers, this has improved our teaching and learning. I can’t tell you how many teachers have come to me and stated like, wow, this whole process is making me a better teacher, whether it’s online or in person. I think that we’ll continue to look at opportunities for our students to take these online offerings in the summer because our kids tend to disperse. And so we are going to roll that out next summer and, but we also have a big summer Institute for our faculty and we were going to launch that to the greater public this year. But because of everything, we didn’t get the opportunity to do that. But I do think and we will continue to modify the program based on the things that we’ve learned this year and tweak it over the summer, be prepared in the fall, if we need to open up remotely then we’re going to do it and but continuing to improve, a flexible, nimble, what things work, what things don’t. But mostly we just hope we’re back in session with everybody.
Janet Jefferson (31:30):
Definitely. Brian, how about you? What do you see the future of Key looking like after going through this?
Brian Michaels (31:36):
I heard in your original question, is it acceptable, is it going well and what would it look like? I want to be honest, in some ways it’s not acceptable. Like our philosophy as a school is to be together, learning together and co-creating knowledge. Like that is a hallmark of what we do. And that doesn’t work when a kid is hanging out at home. Right? Or it doesn’t work as well. So we are adjusting and we’re making it acceptable and we’re learning a ton from it, but it is not what we started September with with our professional development, but it’s what we’re going to need to develop, continue to develop skill sets to do well. So is it going well? I think so. I really do. I think that our kids are, and teachers are super resilient and they want to make it work because they care about their learning and they’re using these different modes and methods and mechanisms to make that happen. I’ve had some really great conversations with teachers about things that they’re like, it doesn’t matter if it’s going to be distance learning or in the classroom next year I’ve got some new stuff that I really like and I like it better than what I had tried before with a specific tool. So I think it’s definitely going to benefit our program and I think we’re going to blend, as was said earlier, we’re going to blend some of this into what we do. And then I think for next year we’ve got to start by just looking at what the CDC is saying that we should do. We’re already developing contingencies for hybrid models that were discussed earlier. We’ve got to think about options where maybe there are 10 kids in a classroom and not 18. We have to think about models where we have some of the school here and maybe some of the school not here at a certain day given how we can keep students safe and it has to be driven from a focus of safety as an underlying point of then providing the education. So it’s going to be very interesting. those of us have been in schools for a long time have to adjust and I’m really confident in our ability to do that given our culture of our school.
Janet Jefferson (33:49):
I think it’s a great opportunity to be really creative and find ways to integrate in ways that we haven’t done before. Speaking as a former teacher, one quick last question. I’m just going to throw this out to the group. One of our listeners asked, what can parents do to help teachers? So as administrators and teachers, what do you think, is there anything that parents can do to help teachers right now?
Sarah Allen (34:13):
Ask questions when you’re confused. We want to help in every way we can and don’t feel like you can’t reach out. I think every teacher and administrator wants to make this the best possible experience. And so don’t be afraid to say, I really don’t know how to do this or I’m confused. We’re here to help and we’d love to help.
Janet Jefferson (34:31):
Yeah, that’s great. That’s helpful. Any other thoughts?
Kelly Wilson (34:34):
Yeah, I would echo, make your kid go outside sometimes and play. I would say to support the teachers, stay up on the communication between student teacher, parent, but again, like I said, I think it depends a little bit on the grade level and allowing the kids to still have their independence in the upper levels.
Brian Michaels (35:03):
I just echo that idea of communication. Where are the pitfalls? Where are the successes? Let’s play off the successes. Let’s diminish the pitfalls.
Janet Jefferson (35:13):
Definitely. Thank you so much. Thank you so much to Brian Michaels from Key. Thank you to Kelly Wilson from Severn and Sarah Allen from Indian Creek for being here with us today to address all of these questions about taking the classroom online and how virtual learning has changed the face of this school year and possibly next. Thank you also to all of our viewers and today, make sure you visit Chesapeake family.com for up to date, local information on home health and living for today’s Maryland parent. We love to hear your thoughts, comments, and questions. If you enjoyed what you heard today, check out more at thirdfloorviews.com. I’m Janet Jefferson. This is Third Floor Views. Thank you for listening.