Primary Years Distance Learning Reflections

It is hard to believe that we are in Week Four of Distance Learning. Though we miss our students more than anything, we have developed a great routine “at school” which is hopefully reflected at home! Thank you for all of your support. We know at times it can feel overwhelming, and parents are expected to be super humans because of this quarantine.

Educators around the globe agree that this is an opportunity for us to develop resourcefulness, agency, and strong bonds as a family. We, as many other schools all over the world, will be adjusting our curriculum as needed when we return in the fall. Our teachers have amazing superpowers and we know our students will be fine academically.

As an IB® candidate school we reflect on the process. Below are some suggested “IB Style” home guidelines as we finish out the school year. We are continually working on developing these IB® Learner Profile (LP) traits and you will see them referenced throughout this reflection:

  1. Open-Minded
  2. Reflective
  3. Communicators
  4. Thinkers
  5. Knowledgeable
  6. Inquirer
  7. Risk-Takers
  8. Caring
  9. Well-Balanced
  10. Principled

Keep an Established Schedule –
IB® LP traits: Open-Minded, Reflective, Communicator, Principled
Though a schedule may not be something your family can do easily under these circumstances, we feel strongly that it helps keep normalcy in place. Use the Meet schedule we provided for your child’s class. Print it or customize your own. To customize your own, open the document and Make a Copy (click on the File tab) and put in a schedule that works for your family including independent working times, brain breaks, and lunch/recess. Teachers know that Distance Learning schedules need to be flexible. If something isn’t working for your family, please let us know.

Set Clear Expectations –
IB® LP traits: Open-Minded, Reflective, Communicator, Caring, Well-Balanced, Principled
These guidelines should include the following:

*Be Ready to Learn – Set up your expectations with your child for being up, dressed, and on time for a scheduled Meet. Eat breakfast before learning time begins. There is no need to show up for your child if they are not awake or ready. Contact your child’s teacher to let them know your child is running a little late or wasn’t able to make it. Teachers may be able to schedule some time to review what was missed.

*Limit Distractions – Make sure that your child has a designated learning space. If needed, designate one item as a fidget and remove all other playful distractions.

*Practice Mindfulness – Once children reach their threshold, sometimes there is no coming back and learning has to stop. Forcing your child to keep going can build up frustration and anxiety. If your child is demonstrating frustration, stop and come back to finish later. Communicate this with your child’s teacher. They may be able to suggest some strategies. Please remember that our school counselors are available to talk to students. Contact Debbie Mayer (mailto:dmayer@jfshamptonroads.org) or Michelle Fenley (mailto:mfenley@jfshamptonroads.org) at any time to set up an appointment.

Respect the Learning Space and Learning Time –
IB ® LP Traits: Thinker, Inquirer, Risk-Taker, Communicator, Principled, Risk-Taker
Some children need help, yet we would like for them to continue to develop agency. If needed, help your child with instructions then leave them to finish the work. Try to avoid sitting right next to them during all of their asynchronous activities. Ask 3 Before Me is a great way for your child to get assistance without always coming to you. Our Chrome books have the capability to use the microphone on a google search, and it can be set up to read selected text. Hear text read aloud (https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/9032490?hl=en). Call a classmate or ask an older sibling if there is a question about an assignment. Pose a question in the Google Classroom stream. Younger students will need a little more assistance, but anything you can do to support them finding an answer on their own is great for developing independence.

Let Them Meet –
IB ® LP Traits
: Caring, Communicator, Knowledgeable, Well-Balanced
Please be mindful and avoid coming into the background area when students are meeting for instructional time. We love having you listen out of the viewing area so you can know what is going, but please do not join a class meeting once learning has begun. For your child and other students, this can keep their attention off of the teacher or class discussion. You can always contact your child’s teacher for an update or explanation. If it is a lunch or social Meet then please join in, but if your child is in a class Meet, please allow the learning to take place uninterrupted.

Accountability is Important –
IB ® LP Traits
– Reflective, Communicator, Thinker, Knowledgeable, Inquirer, Risk-Taker, Principled
We put a lot of time into making learning happen in the classroom, physical or virtual. Teachers are held accountable for lesson plans, being knowledgeable about subject content, and so much more. We also hold our students accountable for their work. We are keeping attendance in various ways, assessing learning, giving feedback and providing grades for assignments. Our teachers may ask you about missed assignments. Please don’t stress or get upset if this happens. We are passionate about what we do. Our teachers are very understanding and can make accommodations or modify activities for your child and family circumstances. We expect all of our teachers, including specialties, to hold office hours, plan and execute learning activities, and be there for our students and families. We will be providing a third term report card with the acknowledgment that learning has taken place despite the circumstances out of our control.

Our entire school was able to transition to online learning quickly. We knew how important it was to not miss a step and get our students into a routine as quickly as possible. We did it in one day while other schools took a week or more to prepare. We love our students and miss being with them in person. We will continue to make necessary adaptations as we go through this process. We are SIA – proud and strong!

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