By Mary Siebert
When we started remote instruction, we knew how to keep our eyes on the goals of staying safe, nurturing our community, and delivering instruction, but we couldn’t anticipate the rocky shoals and submerged tips of icebergs ahead. For example: Zoom was down over much of the Eastern U.S. last Monday. Since it happened to be a flex day for us, we did not suffer as badly as others did. But it reinforced our efforts to work beyond Zoom: sending materials home, providing asynchronous instruction, working on shared platforms. These things can help to keep learning flowing when obstacles in technology arise. Grade level teams are working closely together, sharing instruction to provide consistent, high-quality lessons. And we are searching for the ideal balance between enough live instruction and too much screen time. We’re working late into the night and through weekends to make positive adjustments.
Teachers are rapidly acquiring new skills for delivering content and building community over Zoom. One teacher noticed a young student crying in his little Zoom box. She discovered it was because he had not heard her greet him by name. She quickly greeted him again, and has since learned to watch carefully for the Zoom indication that each individual child’s audio has been connected. Dance teacher Jan Adams is developing ways to “dance inside your box and outside of your box,” guiding students to touch the edges of their Zoom boxes so that it appears they are connecting. We are still tinkering with how to teach through these restrictions, when we are a school that luxuriates in art and music, dance and drama, working in groups, resolving disagreements, watching and responding to each student as they present themselves today. We weren’t designed for little boxes. But we are grateful to have them! It’s good to see one another’s faces.
While we are still making adjustments and corrections as they present themselves, there is nothing so reassuring and heartening as the positive words of our ABS parents. Below are some examples of the emails and social media posts that have fortified us as we navigate.
“I have been very impressed at how organized, prepared, and caring the ABS teachers and staff have been. My children have been excited about starting school and enjoyed their time with their teachers already. ABS is such a blessing to my family and I am thankful for all the hard work the teachers and staff give for the education and well-being of the children.”
“Your teachers are doing AMAZING work! They have been so filled with joy, organized, and incredibly engaging. … We continue to be so incredibly thankful to be part of this ABS community!”
Bonus Mini Lesson
About the term asynchronous: We wondered whether to simplify this term, for younger students. But I was reminded of a conversation with Ms. Hollis from our early years. I had suggested simplifying a word for Kindergarteners, and she replied “Well, they can all easily say Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops!” An excellent point! So, we are learning the word asynchronous along with the rest of the nation. Here’s a little breakdown of the Greek prefix/suffix/roots of the word, just for fun:
ous: full of, having
These add up to: without having time together. Or, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: not simultaneous or concurrent in time.