Schools are Open: A View into Spaulding and McAlister Schools

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Photo provided by the authors

Spaulding’s Assistant Principal, Mr. Ferraro, helps a student who had just arrived by school bus.

This August has brought a school opening like no other. On August 31, we opened our doors, and our computers, to our students for the first day of school. While all students and staff were wearing masks, we know there were many smiles underneath them.

Our students surpassed our expectations about how to manage this “new normal” of being in school and following many new health and safety protocols or working remotely. Never could we have imagined that they would make all the protocols and procedures we have put into place seem effortless. Our teachers and staff have stepped out of their comfort zone of traditional teaching and have connected with all students regardless of their location.

When students are working remotely, they connect with the classroom for instruction through Google Meets. This platform allows the students to listen and interact with their peers who are in the classroom. Our teachers continue to refine this type of instruction and each day we are seeing more and more connections among students.

Mrs. Goldstein, teaching third grade at McAlister Intermediate School, works remotely with students seen on her computer screen. Photo provided by the authors

We started with two learning models: hybrid and temporary full-distance learning. Our students participating in the hybrid model attend school for two days each week, have two days of remote learning with live streaming, and one day of asynchronous remote learning. The first two weeks were modified as there were only two school days. The week of September 14 will bring our first week following our true hybrid model. On Wednesday, while the students are working asynchronously, the teachers are collaborating to review student progress, continuing to learn how to teach with the various modes of technology, and to collaborate with grade levels, interventionists, and special education staff to ensure all student needs are met.

Students who are temporarily participating in full distance remote learning log on each day to experience four days of live streaming and one day of asynchronous remote learning.

Teachers are live streaming and making connections between students in the building and students at home. For example, morning meetings are held each day with students in person and virtual. The students are able to interact with all students in the classroom despite the cohort they are assigned. This is an essential component of building a classroom community and allowing the students to interact with each other. Again, it is amazing to see how effortlessly the students and teachers have adapted to this model and are interacting at specific times throughout the day. When distance learners are not participating in live stream sessions they are working on independent activities that will be submitted to the teacher via SeeSaw or Google Classroom.

What has been abundantly clear during this opening is that students and teachers want to be in school and are able to adapt to the safety requirements to continue to learn and grow. This could not have been possible without the work of our faculty, curriculum coaches, and technology department.

We look forward to continuing our school year and watching the success of our students and staff continue. 

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