The learning models we are offering this fall are based on the requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic situation and our teaching and learning priorities, which include:
both mandated and recommended health and safety protocols;
the capacity of our campuses and square footage in our classrooms and indoor and outdoor common spaces;
our School’s progressive teaching philosophy and practice;
our desire to engage as many students as possible together on campus, and if not on campus, then remotely and synchronously in the same class in real time;
our commitment to supporting student social-emotional well-being;
our understanding that our youngest students struggle most with remote learning and require more support at home, which is a challenge for parents and particularly working parents;
our need to preserve the integrity of our program in offering the course options our Middle School and Upper School students especially have come to expect and count on; and
our goal to create schedules that will work seamlessly should the need arise to pivot between learning models.
The Pre-K–5th Grade and 6th–12th Grade Remote Learning Working Groups recommended two learning models: hyflex learning or fully remote learning.
Their recommendations were informed by remote learning research focused on the developmental capacities and needs of each age group, international case studies, our own experience last spring, peer school reopening plans, and ECFS community surveys.
How will remote learning 2.0 be different?
Remote Learning 2.0, beginning in fall 2020, incorporates feedback from students, faculty, and families to prioritize a rich, student-centered experience and progressive practices.
Moving away from emergency remote learning last spring and into remote learning this fall, we will have more diverse methods of academic feedback and assessment and more opportunities for 1:1 connections between students and faculty during advisories and “office hours.” Students in our Middle School and Upper School will receive grades, per our prior practice.
We are also developing schedules to balance synchronous and asynchronous learning that prioritize student and faculty interaction, while being mindful of screen time.
In consideration of student social-emotional needs, we have prioritized community building and student support in our roll out of the school year, family support, co-curricular opportunities, and the timing of breaks. Implementation varies by division, but common practices include more structured orientation periods at the beginning of the school year, a focus on welcoming new students and families to the school, longer transition times to give students breaks between classes, and building student support periods into the regular schedule for both social and academic checkins.
Students in Pre-K–12th Grade will use a consistent platform, Google Classroom, to access all courses, and this platform will be supplemented with developmentally-appropriate learning software at each grade level.
Google Meet is releasing new enhancements including breakout rooms, virtual whiteboards, polling, improved tile layout, and advanced noise cancellation. The Technology Department is improving outreach to students to ensure Google Meet is working as intended on all student devices.
Providing our employees with professional development opportunities that support their ongoing pedagogical growth is a priority for ECFS, particularly as we look towards reopening school in hyflex or remote environments.
Summer growth opportunities
Early in June, all employees received a website link and instructions for pursuing summer professional development programming to strengthen remote learning capabilities. Our educators have been engaging the following topics throughout the summer:
Progressive Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age
Tech Nuts and Bolts in the Digital Age
Assessment and Feedback in the Digital Age
Building Community in the Digital Age
Opening-of-School faculty meetings
The Progressive Teaching Institute (PTI) planning committee, the Assistant Head of School for Ethical Education & Social Impact, and the divisional Assistant Principals are designing our opening-of-School faculty meetings, providing learning opportunities that will center ethical and progressive teaching and learning; assessment and feedback; social-emotional learning; and diversity, equity, and inclusion.