Deer Hill School News . April 17, 2020
Hello Deer Hill Families,
It's so interesting how quickly the time is passing and yet it also seems to defy any rules. Snow tonight? Sure! Sixty degrees on Sunday? Why not! Add to that how often you have breakfast for dinner or pizza for breakfast and to quote Alice In Wonderland, things are just "curiouser and curiouser."
Here is a little PEP to start off the long weekend. We'll see you again on Tuesday with teachers' Weekly Communications.
As a teacher I had a pet peeve that carried through my 20 years in the classroom. When students would start a question with, "Do we have to. . .?" (Do we have to show our work? Do we have to write in complete sentences?), I always reframed with, "Would you like us to. . .?" This often led to our own unique vocabulary and syntax as student questions inevitably began with, "Do we havwood you like us to. . .?" until it became habit. You might think my fixation on this was odd (isn't that the nature of most pet peeves?). However, to me it was grounded in the belief that learning is a privilege and an opportunity. It is also a choice. I might like you to do something, but I'm not going to make you. I was not a teacher to impose an education on my students. My goal was to provide it to them in a way that (hopefully!) fostered independence, creativity, and intrinsic motivation.
For many families right now, how they engage in learning is a new kind of choice they are making based on other pressing factors and needs. This has cast the "have to/would you like to" contrast in a new light. From my perspective, there are no "have tos" in how we do school right now. As I shared in an email soon after the launch of our Remote Learning Plan, our "ask" at the elementary level is to please do what you can. That very well will mean different things at different times during this pandemic. As an avid reader of The Boston Globe, I was very disappointed with an article published today about parents' frustrations with homeschooling. One line that stood out was the idea of "trying to please a school district." I would never want that to be the driving force behind how you are engaging in remote learning. I will say it again. Do what you can. Do what is right by your family to preserve wellness. As educators, parents, and co-inhabitants of this pandemic world, we understand, and we are here to offer support, not judgment. Do what you can. That is enough and what we would like to ask of you.
In the spirit of what I shared in Something Personal, here are a few reminders that I would like you to review as guiding principals of Deer Hill's Remote Learning Plan.
- Assignments are not graded. Teachers will track participation and provide feedback that supports learning.
- Assignments do not have due dates. Students are welcome to carry assignments over from week to week, revisit assignments from previous weeks, and develop a schedule for completing assignments that is best for their families.
- There is no expectation that all assignments are completed, whether from classroom teachers or specialists. State guidelines indicate that students should engage in learning for approximately half of a typical school day.
- Specialist assignments might account for approximately twenty minutes to a half hour of daily learning on average. Or perhaps students might choose a day to focus on specialist work. These are ideas, not have tos, though students are encouraged to incorporate specialist activities into their remote learning.
- We value quality over quantity and family wellbeing above all else.
Our remote learning experience has provided a unique opportunity for volunteerism and forging bonds within our community. There is nothing more profound than tapping into our ability to support others. Hearts and rainbows in windows, writing cards of gratitude, and sewing masks are all ways that Deer Hill has stood up. A valuable resource shared with me this week by Jenn Askjaer, a Deer Hill parent, is Volunteer Match Virtual Volunteerism. Asking the question, "During these uncertain times, how can we help?", this website serves as a clearinghouse for almost 700,000 ways to volunteer from home. Opportunities can be filtered by factors such as cause area, locality, and suitability for participation from children. Thank you for taking a peek and considering your potential for positive impact.
All the best,
Alexandra L. Sullivan
Principal, Deer Hill School