SEABURY STYLE LEARNING ADAPTS TO FAMILY NEEDS
Question: Is spring break still spring break if you’ve been away from school – although not away from your teachers – for three weeks?
Answer: Heck yes!
As we take a short pause from our distance learning journey, Head of School Sandi Wollum has some thoughts to share about the experience so far. Take it away, Sandi.
Thanks, Brad. You hear us say this a lot at Seabury. The biggest thing our kids have in common is that each of them is so very unique. Yet we also know they aren’t unique – at least in terms of what makes them a Seabury kid.
Our students – your children – have advanced abilities in many areas, but their intellectual, social and emotional development can be out of sync. They think outside the box – if they are aware of the box at all. And no single approach to learning – or two or three or four approaches -- will meet each student’s needs.
Therefore, as we look back at our first three weeks of distance learning, it shouldn’t be surprising that learning at home also looks very different for each of our students and families.
Not only do each of our students have different strengths and weaknesses – requiring different approaches in order to do their very best at school – each family has different needs as well.
Some families have adults working from home where they can look over a child’s shoulder. Others have parents putting in long hours away from home and need their children to be able to learn more independently.
Some kids are loving the independence of working at home while others are struggling to wrap their heads around home being a place to go to school, not just play.
This means some kids need more to do and others need less. Some are in a position where they can only handle work that they can complete independently while others have adults who are ready and able to help.
For our faculty and staff, this has meant making adjustments for both individuals and the class. It has also required frequent conferencing with kids and adults as well as plenty of creativity as we support families adjusting to distance learning.
This has been a huge learning curve for our faculty and staff who are doing all of their teaching with technology tools many had never heard of just a few weeks ago.
They have learned a great deal about how to set reasonable expectations around how much work to expect a child to do in a day at home and about how that work is presented to both kids and parents.
For younger students, teachers are learning how to balance activities that students can do on their own with optional activities for families. In all grade levels, adjustments, flexibility and experimentation are the rule as teachers huddle – virtually – with parents and students to see what is working and what is not.
While the technology tools and teaching platforms are new to many of our kids and parents, we have been able to make quick adjustments because our faculty members know our kids so well.
They know the child who is struggling and needs extra help or encouragement and they know the child who needs to go faster. And they know that all our kids need time to play, explore and laugh with their friends.
Teachers have been finding ways to help our kids stay connected and deal with the stress of this uncertain time in a variety of ways. Art projects for all ages. Ukulele lessons in performing arts classes. Daily mindfulness for middle school students. Class meetings, small group chats and individual conferences for everybody.
All of those things and much more are ensuring that students are heard, that questions are addressed, that fears are calmed, and that there are opportunities to laugh with friends.
It is hard to believe that it’s been only three-plus weeks since we coined the phrase, Distance Learning, Seabury Style, and started figuring out how to continue to be Seabury while away from each other.
It hasn’t always been smooth. And it hasn’t always been perfect. But the passionate support for our kids by our faculty, staff and families has meant that kids continue to learn and to ask questions and to explore and to grow Seabury Style -- even at home.
We can’t wait to see you all again in person. But until then, we will all keep learning and growing together.
If you have questions about distance learning for your family, reach out to your child’s teacher for help. They are eager to help you find strategies for setting up routines at home and are very willing to make adjustments when your child or your family needs them. We are doing that every day. And we will continue – just like we do at school.
SANDI’S TOP CLICK
The National Association for Gifted Children "Lots of great resources. This one has ideas for games and toys that appeal to gifted kids."
WHAT SANDI’S WATCHING
"My son is home from Western Washington University doing online learning as well. Our go-to show when we just want to relax is The Office. We have watched them all a million times, but somehow they still make us laugh together."