By MaryBeth Ventura, Middle School Division Head
We are listening and responding to parent feedback, thank you! and have stepped up our communication around these three important areas of our Distance Learning Program:
- Research and insight into student learning and wellness during shelter in place.
- Ideas for enrichment and extension.
- Glimpses into student learning from a distance.
Student Wellness and Learning
I’ve attended multiple webinars and trainings this week about student mental health and well being during this time. One that was most useful was with Authentic Connections, a research group that aspires to maximize student well-being and resilience through data and insight. In their research related to Covid-19 they have learned that the top drivers associated with students wellness during the pandemic are:
- Parent relationship,
- Structure (for learning and for fun/leisure time) and
- Learning efficacy.
While learning efficacy (learning efficiently and effectively) seems to lie squarely with the school and parent relationship seems to lie squarely with parents, clearly the two are intimately intertwined right now!
While learning efficacy (learning efficiently and effectively) seems to lie squarely with the school and parent relationship seems to lie squarely with parents, clearly the two are intimately intertwined right now! During this time, when you may find yourself driving learning for your child (or trying to), it’s important that you not do that at the expense of your connection with them. If it’s a choice between nagging about an assignment or maintaining connection with them, the data says choose connection!
The idea of structure is super important as well, and we hope we have provided a structure that you can build around and add to in a way that feels right for your family. In another workshop, the idea of empowerment came up as critical for teens right now, as they are so powerless right now. This means providing choices with limits and giving them some power or say in determining the structure of their days. Maybe you have an expectation that they attend two Zoom tutorials a week, and they get to choose which two. If staying up late is something they really want – let them choose one night to do this.
We appreciate the expertise of parenting coach and educator Dana Hirt. Dana Hirt is a parenting educator and coach with over 30 years of educational psychology experience who offers parents, both new and experienced, concrete skills and personalized guidance and support. Dana has taught in the classroom, worked with students in private practice, advocated in schools, and led parent workshops.
We asked her to create these short videos for TBS parenting adults as a community resource to help all of us through current parenting challenges.
We know that some families are looking for less engagement with school-related tasks and some are looking for more.
Enrichment and Extension
We know that some families are looking for less engagement with school-related tasks and some are looking for more. If your family needs less please reach out to your teachers, advisor, or me and we can make a plan that works for your family. For those that need more, each week we will provide our Middle School students with the opportunity to participate in a Distance Learning Discovery Project. The projects require screen time our aim is that it will be productive time with a real-world connections. The projects have learning objectives and steps to follow. The first two projects: Zooniverse and Perspectives, are linked to the right under Distance Learning Discovery Projects. I will add a new project each week. You can incorporate these into your child’s weekly schedule as you see fit. You will be the main support for your child for these projects and so you also have agency to make changes to them. I am available for questions but won’t be able to provide intensive, ongoing feedback or support. I will give credit, via the progress report narrative, if a student completes a project.
In addition, here are some other ideas if you want your child to have more engagement on a daily basis.
- Require your child to attend a certain number of Zoom tutorials each day or each week. Attendance is growing at these and sometimes students are just quietly doing work alongside the teacher and each other, asking questions as needed.
- Require your child to participate in one club. All of the clubs are linked in the schedule and Vanessa has just invited 7th and 8th graders to participate in creating the yearbook.
- Access some of the curated resources from our Distance Learning Resource Page.
Glimpses Into Distance Learning
And finally, please enjoy this gallery of middle schoolers in action during DL mode. Google docs is a great way for students to demonstrate their understanding in writing- and students are using docs plenty- but there are many other ways that students are showing and sharing their thinking from a distance. Here are a few examples: