Weekly Communique

September 11, 2020

Big picture

Thoughts from Dr. Pacatte

The Difficult Work Continues…

During the course of this week, I put out a brief survey to our teachers to find out what challenges they currently are experiencing that we might be able to solve. There were some logistical challenges, some technical challenges, and some planning challenges. While all of the surveys are not back in, yet there is one response that comes up with some regularity and that is the challenge of teaching to the black circle.

There is no debating that teaching is a human endeavor. Teachers across our state are continuing to squeeze a square peg into a round hole by teaching elementary students, solely, through a device. The device removes the ability for the much needed human connection and makes developing relationships with students more difficult than it already is during a regular school year. As a district, we pushed for the focus on our students’ emotional and social well being to be a focus for the start of this year. Coming off of a spring where they were device-dependent and a summer where many were isolated from friends and some family, our kids were likely experiencing varying levels of trauma. Checking in with their well being and getting a sense of where they are each at, emotionally, was to be a critical component to any chance of success this fall. Enter the video button…

Our students are logging into their classes and many are choosing not to click on the video button, so for their teacher and classmates, they cannot be seen. I get the desire to hide yourself from a meeting. I have done it myself. Teachers, however, are dependent up being able to see the faces of their students during the course of teaching. That is how they know if they are connecting with a student. That is often how they can see that a student doesn’t understand. That is how a teacher can measure engagement. That is how they receive the necessary deposit of energy in return for energy expended. Teaching and learning is a give and takes process. Our staff needs to see your kids. If we have any chance of continuing student growth we need them to be all in…and that means visually, as well.

Our teachers are working harder than ever as the stakes have been raised for all of this. They know that this year counts. There is no more “do no harm.” They heard the complaints last year that it wasn’t rigorous enough. For most teachers, they reworked their vision of teaching. It is nowhere near what they were used to, nor what most were trained for as they began their careers. Every day they reflect on what they did and often feel they need to go back to the drawing board as they try to address the student who disappeared or logged off in the middle of the class. They can’t leave the meeting to track down a missing student. So they store that in their heads while they try to teach the kids that are still there and are wondering if the black circles are still there or not. It is exhausting for the students, parents, and especially the teachers.

There is a fix for this challenge. Please have your children click the video button so they can be seen. Ask them to engage with their teacher so the teacher can build a connection and assess their learning. Create a routine for the students so they get up in time to make themselves presentable so that clicking the video button is no big deal. Our students can support their teachers with a smile, a nod, and some energy coming back their way.

Big picture

Tweet of the week

Big picture


Big picture

Contact information for local representatives

Big picture

The first week of the Gurnee School District 56 Bookmobile was amazing!

Bookmobile September 2020 Calendar

Big picture

The Viking Bookmobile was a HUGE SUCCESS this week! Here are pictures of happy students' social distancing and checking out great books! If you would like to learn more about the bookmobile watch this video! To see our September schedule and more information about the bookmobile please visit www.vikinglrc.weebly.com. If you have any questions please contact Mrs. Lill - slill@d56.org.

American Young Poetry Digest

Last year, some of Ms. Kuffel's kindergarten students wrote poems about colors and submitted them to the Young American Poetry Digest. Their poems have been published! Gurnee D56 School is so proud of our students!

Big picture


Everyone can access out-of-home WiFi hotspots:

Xfinity WiFi Hotspots in out-of-home locations are available for free to anyone who needs them to support communities through this challenging time. Find your closest hotspot at wifi.xfinity.com/ or use the Xfinity WiFi Hotspots app.

Free Internet Essentials Package:

Comcast is offering an Internet Essentials package free for qualified families and also affordable high-speed Internet at home with Internet Essentials. New customers will receive two months of free service.

Warren Township Youth & Family Services

Big picture
Big picture