Barclay Bulletin

October 18, 2020

Benchmarking for Remote Students

If you did not have your fully remote student participate in our first opportunity for benchmarking for reading, there is another opportunity this week. We have slots available Tuesday - Friday to try to complete our Fall benchmarking period. Please call us at 637-1840 if you have questions. The benchmarking is done with one reading teacher during the time slot. Please make sure that you complete the health screen for your student prior to arriving to the building. The link to the sign-up is below this article.

School Pictures

Re-takes and Make-Up picture dates are listed below:

Fully remote students (Cohort 4):

Thursday, November 5th


Barclay Cafeteria

Cohorts 1 and 3

Thursday, November 5th

During school

Cohorts 2 and 3

Friday, November 6th

During School

Barclay Update

This year has already been a whirlwind of activity. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced school districts across the country to examine different learning models in an attempt to provide an education while managing the health and safety of the school and the community. This new journey in education is certain to be reviewed once we can return to our traditional school model, however, that does nothing for families and educators while we are living through this in real time. I am sharing some of my thoughts and observations related to my experience as a building principal, where my role is to support students, teachers, and parents. It is the same role I have when school looked "normal", but the navigation of regulations is much different. With so much information coming out in the summer, I figured now might be a good time to look back and reflect on how we arrived here, and why I (and we as a district) made and make certain decisions.

Difference Between Learning in Spring and Fall

The Spring session was a closure, the governor closed school buildings in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. We put together materials initially hoping we would be back to school in two weeks. As we know, the two weeks continued to the end of the school year. While we had the devices for 1:1 computing, the access for students across the district was varied. New instruction was pushed out through a few platforms based on student age and building devices. Families balanced job loss, working from home, and facilitating classroom learning away from school. Ultimately, we put together resources understanding that we would be able to move forward once the Fall arrived. The measures for student growth - end of year assessments - were waived, and we reflected on the participation of students during the closure in report card comments.

The Fall session came around with the measures of teacher and student growth continuing to be in place. No matter what model we chose as a district, the student measures for learning (3-8 State Assessments and Regents exams) were still in place for the Spring of 2021. Our chosen model (which had to allow for a fully remote option) would face regulations and recommendations from the State Health Department, State Education Department, and the CDC. The mandated mask wearing is not the struggle for us, the amount of classroom space while social distancing is the largest factor in determining how we proceed. In Barclay I can fit 12 desks in most classrooms when they are spaced six feet apart. There are a few rooms where I could fit more, and a few where I can fit no more than ten desks with the recommended spacing. This severely limits the number of students that we can have in the classrooms at one time.

We chose a model with 4 cohorts:

Cohort 1 - Instruction in person Monday and Thursday, remote learning the other 3 days

Cohort 2 - Instruction in person Tuesday and Friday, remote learning the other 3 days

Cohort 3 - Instruction in person 4 days (currently our students with IEP's needing special education teacher support in the room, and ENL (English as a New Language) students

Cohort 4 - Fully remote students

None of these models is ideal. None of the models has the same access to learning that five days of in person instruction brings. I wish that we could have every student back in the building 5 days a week. Students are expected to assess the content and standards more independently then ever before. Teachers are expected to create lessons which will serve students that are in person and learning remotely. Parents are expected to facilitate the learning when students have additional questions. In a normal school year, the teacher would be facilitating all of this in the classroom during the day. This year everybody is out of their school "comfort zone". Students, teachers, and parents are all trying their best to learn with the new model. It is natural for there to be bumps along the way, struggles are part of growth.

Our instruction continues each new day of the week. Cohort 1 and 2 students are expected to keep pace with the materials when they are remote. Cohort 4 students have to navigate the instruction more independently. There is dedicated help for remote students through our AIS and Special Education teachers, and our counselor, Mrs. Caldwell is hosting social groups for our fully remote students. If your student is struggling while using these supports, you can always reach out to myself or Mrs. Roberts and we will make every effort to remove barriers to learning.

It will take continued dedication from all of us to make the school year a success. If we have an opportunity to bring more students back we will, but we are unable to grant special requests outside of what we have established. It means that I have to say no sometimes. I realize that the situation is difficult for students, parents, and teachers. I have offered to provide assistance to families and students when things are not working as they hoped. I may not always be the most technologically savvy, but if I don't know the answer, then I will seek to find the information so that learning can occur. Please call the technology helpline if something is wrong with the technology. If there is difficulty with access to the instructional content, contact the school (the teacher, our instructional coach, or our administrative team) may be able to remove the immediate barrier that you are facing. During the school day the teacher may not be able to assist, but the others mentioned may be able to support your virtually, or by setting up a home or school visit.

I have received a few inquiries to have the work sent home as packets - I am not currently supporting those requests unless there are significant issues with accessibility because we will not be able to keep up the pacing of our instruction and feedback if packets are sent. I know this was used in the Spring in many instances, but we did not have the same timelines then as we do now with the curriculum and instruction.

I have heard people using the word struggle to describe their current experiences. I think it is an appropriate description when accounting for all of this as a whole. I have struggled to lead the building at times this year. I am not as effective a leader as I have been in more traditional years. If I were to ask my colleagues in the district and around the state, I believe that I would hear that they are all struggling as leaders as well. You may think that you are failing as a parent or teacher, or that the school is failing. I don't believe that to be the case. Struggling, yes. Failing, no. We are all doing the best that we can with what we are given in this current situation. We will all continue to improve our performance.

This is not ideal, but we can make the best of the situation. Feel free to email me directly, call the school, or post on our Barclay School Facebook page. I have set this up to answer questions related to school during the pandemic. I welcome ideas that you may have to improve on our models.