Log in

NEALS Blog April 2020

7 Apr 2020 10:03 AM | Laura Foody (Administrator)

Commitment Through Uncertainty

by Chris Ouellette of Miss Halls School

When I signed up for this blog post a few short weeks ago, my intention was to write about onboarding a brand new member to your team and school (Hannah is pretty awesome, I am sure you will hear about/from her soon). Similar to many of you, as the reports started to come in and the emails/meetings started to increase, I realized that we were in a very different time. We have been given a call to move to distance learning in an attempt to stop the spread of a contagious disease, and have been asked as educators and students to do something that we may have never done before. Schools are still working out action plans, so no matter the point you are at, there is work to be done. We can only predict that this change will last for some time. While we can think about our students, their needs and potential struggles/successes, until we get rolling, we just won’t know. I have to admit that I do not have control over much currently, but one of the things that I can control is to think about what I can commit to during these times. I am fortunate to work at a school that has set forth the following commitments for distance learning and the end of the semester:

  1. We remain dedicated to our mission and to helping students develop our core competencies of Vision, Voice, Interpersonal Efficacy, and Gumption.  

  2. We commit to prioritizing engagement and connection over content.

  3. We commit to creating clear and reasonable goals and expectations for the final eight weeks of class; these goals and expectations are not and cannot be the same as they would be for face-to-face learning. 

  4. We commit to asking ourselves and our departmental colleagues “What is really important for this class in this curriculum?”  We will distill our coursework down to these most essential concepts and skills. 

  5. We understand that distance learning cannot replicate the time of face-to-face interaction and homework time. We will commit to a maximum estimated number of work minutes per week, keeping in mind the grade level of the students and in agreement with our colleagues in all academic departments.

  6. We commit to assess student learning in creative and equitable ways; especially in the context of distance learning, when students' home lives differ greatly, we need to rethink traditional, graded content-based tests and quizzes. 

  7. We understand that learning styles differ, and some students will have more difficulty than others learning in a distance model. We commit to modifying our expectations to best accommodate and support these, and all, students.  

  8. We commit to ensuring that asynchronous learning is a possibility/option for every lesson and assessment. We understand that not all students can be expected to be present for live instruction.  

  9. We commit to communicating clearly with individual students about their progress in the interest of supporting students equitably.  If a grade falls below a midterm grade, we commit to bringing in a student’s personal team and making this as successful of an experience as possible.  

Whether you borrow from these, or you have your own entirely unique set of commitments, one thing is clear to me: setting these commitments, as an individual or as an entire institution will drive the educational experience of our students going forward. There are two things we should all be able to commit to; 1) We can commit to being there for our students, and 2) We can commit to being there for our colleagues. If we all commit to those two simple tenets, I believe we can find the strength to get through these challenging and uncertain times.

Here’s a song that has helped me stay positive: “Sing About It”- The Wood Brothers

Thanks for your time and energy, make sure to take care of yourselves in this time as well!



Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software