The Big Cat Courier

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The Friday Update

Dear Barnard Families,

As our first week of Distance Learning on Microsoft Teams comes to a close, our students, their families, and the Barnard staff have all had the opportunity to experiment navigating the platform. Over the next several instructional days, you will notice an increase in the amount of daily academic work being posted. This "soft opening" is intentional and designed to help students adjust to the shift from paper and pencil learning tasks to a virtual classroom setting.

If you are still finding it challenging to help your child navigate Teams, please click the link to find the Teams resources that EPS has put together for families.

For Families Still Without Access to a Device

Over the last three weeks, we have been working to distribute a loaner device to any Barnard family that doesn't have access to one. At this time, we do not have the capacity to put a loaner into the hands of every student but we are working diligently to ensure that if a family doesn't have a device, we find them a loaner, even if it has to be shared between multiple students in your household. Please understand that if you have received or are scheduled to receive a device from another school in the district to support a student at a different grade level, that will be the shared device assigned to household.

Please click the link to find resources on getting your loaner device up and running.

For Families With Only a Shared Device

If your family only has access to a shared device it can be difficult to schedule the school day for multiple students. As noted above, EPS elementary schools have transitioned to an online learning platform. Some of its virtual classroom time will host live events however, much of the contend will be presented as recorded content. Recorded content will be available for students and families to access at any time of the day or evening. This change in approach was intended to support students in households with more students than devices and who might need to spread learning throughout different parts of the day.

For Families Struggling with WiFi

If your home does not have access to WiFi, please click the link for information about the many options providers are offering as part of the Keep America Connected Pledge. Virtually every internet provider in CT has signed onto the pledge in order to ensure all households with students have access.

Advice from a Dad and Educator

Feeling overwhelmed? You aren't alone! Since the closure began, families all over the country have been struggling to balance Distance Learning with work and keeping up with everyday life. I've found the adjustment to working from home while supporting my three children with their school work a real eye opening experience...and teaching is my vocation! So, if you feel frustrated or overwhelmed, it's okay. Remember, we are all in good company!

Earlier in the closure I shared some of the strategies that were working at home for me. Now that we're approaching two months, here are some thoughts on making it all work:

-Sticking to as normal a schedule and routine as possible:

That's easier said than done, right? By scheduling your day so kids know more or less what to expect, I've found that my first grader is more receptive to getting into his academic work. We try to stick to bedtimes, a morning breakfast time, chore times, etc... It isn't perfect every day but it has helped to create a feeling of normality. Hey, at this point I can even get my first grader to wear clothes instead of pajamas...on most days!

-Flexibility with Distance Learning Work:

Being flexible about when and how daily work gets done. Kids at the primary level need to move, take breaks, eat a snack, etc... Trying to work through all of the day's material in one sitting isn't realistic for most students and will likely lead to work avoidance and task resistance.

-It doesn't need to be perfect:

Our goal for Distance Learning is to keep kids engaged and learning. Schools understand that student work is going to look different than it would during a more traditional school year. It's important for families to know that they have some leeway in how their child gets school work done. Most of my younger son's work is completed early in the morning before my workday starts and then gets finished late in the afternoon once my workday ends. We occasionally save some tasks for the weekend during weeks where our schedule has flown out the window. In short, make Distance Learning fit the needs of your child and your family.

I'll close by reiterating my opening thought that it's okay to feel unsettled by the changes we're all experiencing in our lives right now. It's normal to feel frustrated by trying to keep up with all of it. However, we are all experiencing it together, even if we feel like we're alone due to our current circumstances.

Stay safe, stay well, and remember that we're all Big Cats!

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