As I sat down to write last night, I struggled. There is so much that is new and different in our world. I thought a lot about our “new normal,” and then took the evening and today to process the past two weeks. Many different feelings washed over me, but I will name one for this newsletter.
I am so grateful for our staff. They left work on a Friday, and then returned the following Tuesday with an enormous task at hand. They met the new challenge of remote learning head on. They created assignments, menu boards, and choice boards to send home to families. They found ways to meet, whether in-person or remotely, to come together and collaborate on the work as a team. They spent 3 intense days creating a learning adventure for our students that balanced academic learning activities with other learning activities. The assignments were created to be asynchronous and varied, knowing that parents at home may be working, several people in a household might be sharing one device, and that internet access could be an issue. It was a monumental job, extraordinarily executed by a very talented group of people in a very short amount of time. Now, they are supporting your children, trying to find balance in this new world. Just as you are wearing many different hats, our staff is doing the same. They are teachers, parents, caregivers, and spouses. I am grateful for their passion and dedication with so many competing priorities during this time.
I am so grateful for you, our families. You have taken on a lot. Each night I pour over my Twitter feed to see what amazing things have happened with our Ray families. I am proud (though not surprised) that we have a community that has embraced this adventure with us. We are one week into this remote learning journey, and two weeks into our school closure. You may still be trying to establish a schedule that works for your family. Many of you are still working and now also juggling home learning in a stressful time for our world. You are taking care of loved ones. Please take a moment to complete this survey, one time for each of your Ray School students, so we can support your efforts at home.
I am grateful that you have prioritized home learning and family time over homeschooling. If you haven’t made that shift yet, I encourage you to try! You will find that you are not as stressed, and your children will not feel as much pressure.
Two weeks into our school closure, I’ll remind you of the quote I shared when this adventure was just beginning:
"It's going to be an adventure, that's for sure. As long as we all stay fluid, and flexible, and curious, and open-minded, we can get there together. How we handle this is perhaps the most important education our kids will receive this year: How does a community handle a crisis? What works, and what doesn't? How do we lead, and join together for the common good? When our children are grandparents, how will they describe this time in their lives? What stories will they have to tell? Let's make them good ones."
We are an elementary school. Our goal is to help students develop the skills and mindset to learn, thrive, and take on the world. Rather than thinking of home learning as a sad departure from school, I would ask that we shift our mindset to embrace this unexpected time to help our students focus on developing their mindset and skills for life. Home learning gives them the opportunity to play, create, learn, be outside, ask questions, focus on a passion, and grow. School also does these things, but the very nature of this physical isolation creates the conditions for more in-depth exploration and learning.
We heard from Dr. Badams that we will not be participating in state testing this year. What a relief! Some of you have asked about standards and curriculum. If you are creating academic time with your child (somewhere between 30 minutes to two hours during a day, depending on the age of your child), and incorporating suggested activities from the teachers, you are working on the standards and curriculum. Remember the tips from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): Don’t try to mimic an actual school day. It’s not a normal situation. Students (and parents) are stressed. Many kids cannot self-manage their schedule. Lessen the workload, and choose 2 subjects a day to focus on.
As the Ray staff works on and rolls out another phase of remote learning, we will continue to think about these recommendations. We also want you to know that we’re thinking about you and we are missing your family so very much. Remember, we are in this together. Please take a moment to read this blog post, Dear Parent. It says exactly what I would want to say to you, as would our staff. If you don’t read it, please know this, quoted from the post:
“Remember that their (read: the Ray School’s) first priority is that you and your family are well, happy, and healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. All the rest is secondary. Read that again. All. The. Rest. Is. Secondary.”
I also posted this quote on Twitter:
“Since I changed my own mindset from homeschooling to home learning, I’ve learned ballet from my daughter, she learned how to do laundry from me, we went on a scavenger hunt, we laughed so hard our bellies hurt. Remember, learning can happen in so many ways!”
Has your mindset shifted yet?
Let us know how we can help. We are so grateful for you and for your support.