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Notes from Morah Ronit

March 30, 2020

Dear Parents,

Thank you very much to the families who gave us feedback through the first round of surveys and in direct conversation about the challenges (and successes) students and parents are facing navigating the day-to-day.

You spoke, we listened….This week will you will see some of what worked well during week 1, along with some improved pieces based on your feedback.

  • All classes will be having Zoom meetings to help with moving education forward, social isolation, and accountability.
  • There are some new on-line platforms to explore, along with a lot of activities not being on a screen.
  • Goals and expectations have been clarified.

It is helpful to keep in mind that when we started, our goal was simply to have something in place as soon as possible.  It was never our design to try to entirely replicate the in-school schedule virtually, nor would we want to.  We are very cognizant that no matter where we land that it will provide too little or too much structure; too little or too much independent work; and too little or too much screen time.  We are not only being guided by direct feedback, but by experts, and by schools that have been doing this a week or two longer than we have. As many schools across BC come back from Spring Break, we are also beginning to get more direction from the Ministry of Education as to what their expectations look like.  The good news is that we are ahead of the curve.

I am excited to continue to hear and see what the new learning experience will be like, and I look forward to collectively sharing photos, quotes, and videos with each other. We can all learn from one another and share our creative ideas and successes! We are in this together.

As we continue to adjust to our new norms, please do not hesitate to be in touch.  Your teachers continue to be your best source of information for daily experiences, but I am here to answer any questions or address any concerns to the best of my ability.

Morah Ronit

 


March 22, 2020

Dear RJDS Parents and Students,

Tomorrow we launch into a new (temporary) phase of RJDS Education – Continuous Remote Learning. Over the next weeks we are going to be OPEN for learning, community, and fun even while our buildings are closed. We are approaching this with a growth mindset and as a learning experience, and we welcome your constructive feedback as to how things are going. The first few days will give us all a taste for what this experience is going to be like and to give us meaningful data to guide what comes next.

We made a list of things you should know as we get ready to start remote learning tomorrow morning:

CREATING A SCHEDULE

  • We are aware that each family’s situation is different, and so might be each family’s daily schedule. Here is an example of a schedule you might use. Here is another one. Use these as a guide to create a schedule that works for your situation. *We do not expect you to follow the daily RJDS schedule, but to ensure students are engaging in learning. Once Zoom is up, will there be a more specific time students should plan on focusing on academics.

GRADE SPECIFIC ACADEMICS

  • This week we are focusing on Choice Boards. (A Choice board is a graphic organizer that allows students to choose different ways to learn about a particular concept.)
  • Every grade’s looks a little different, and all these are posted on a new section of our website here. You can see your information for the week but keep checking because it could change. Also, keep your eyes out for specific emails from teachers and messages on classroom platforms such as FreshGrade and SeeSaw.

USING TECHNOLOGY FOR LEARNING

  • ZOOM: Soon we will start using ZOOM for class meetings and direct lessons. Please familiarize yourselves with the platform here.
  • Each class might have slightly different expectations and rules around ZOOM. ZOOM invitations for each class will be sent by teachers.
  • As you will see in the different Choice Boards, we are also experimenting with different technologies and platforms. We are aware that there is going to be a learning curve for everyone.

. Make sure to turn off your pop-up blocker, or you will not be able to open up the links.

IMPORTANT WEBPAGE

All the information you need is available on our website. We created a page called “Continuous Learning” — it includes communications, information on academics, lots of learning resources, and other helpful information and ideas. We will keep adding to this every day.

DESIGNING A PERSONAL LEARNING SPACE

It’s really important for each student to set up a happy place for learning where they have all the materials that they need. Here’s what we suggest:

  • Find a space that is especially your child’s! This might be their room, or it could be a particular corner of your dining table.
  • Make sure there is a desk, table, or writing surface like this.
  • Gather lined paper, white paper, pens, pencils, and markers in an organized way.
  • Put all your “Just in Case” materials that your teachers sent home there.
  • Have a laptop, iPad, or desktop computer there.
  • Leave headphones there, and mark them with your child’s name.
  • Let your child decorate their space for learning in a way that makes them happy.

CONTACTING TEACHERS & ADMINISTRATORS

  • Teachers: Parents and students can speak to teachers just like you would any time. If a student would like to speak to their teacher, a grownup should email them, and they will give you a call.
  • Students can schedule a time between 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM each weekday to meet with Malki to talk about anything. Grownups can also reach out for advice.
  • If you have a concern for the business office, you can email Janet, too!
  • Grownups and students can email Morah Ronit anytime for whatever reason, even just to send a virtual elbow hello. Ronit is also the person to reach out to if you have any feedback/ideas/suggestions about our remote learning.

EXPECTATION OF STUDENTS

  • Effort: Students should be ready for learning each day. This means that they are active learners who are listening, thinking, asking questions, answering questions, working hard, and asking teachers for help when they need it. A student might not be able to ask during a class as they usually would, but they can always have a grownup email the teachers right after a class and set up a time to talk.
  • Accountability: We are asking students to be accountable for their learning. This may look different for different assignments and in different grades, but students/parents should email teachers outcomes of their learning (documents, photos, pictures, etc.) weekly.
  • Kindness & Respect: All our usual expectations around kindness and respect—for fellow students and teachers—apply. Because ZOOM is a new classroom environment for us all, we have to be extra careful to treat everyone with respect. This includes the following:
  • The way a student appears on video must be respectful to all.
  • The things a student writes on ZOOM chat (when it is enabled) must be worded in kind and respectful ways.
  • Each student must follow their teachers’ instructions if they are asked to shift the way they are behaving.

PARENTS’ ROLES

  • This is not home school! Parents are not expected to teach their children or even understand all that they are learning. A parent’s role is to make sure their children have what they need, check in to make sure they are completing their assignments, and let teachers know if they need extra support or challenge work.
  • We have put a structure in place, but we also recognize that parents may need flexibility. If some aspect of this is not working in your family, please let us know so we can try to help.
  • Monitor technology: This period of time will involve a lot more technology than our children are used to, and we have not had the time to prepare them for this shift. There are a few easy ways to keep their tech use safe and healthy. We recommend:
  • Rules:Set family rules about technology use outside of class in terms of time on screens and internet use.
  • Search History:Check your children’s search history even if they are not permitted to be online alone.
  • Expectations of Privacy: Tell your children that you will be checking and that there is no expectation of privacy here.
  • Talk to us: This is going to be a fluid process, and we need to know how parents and students are doing in order to improve. If a student needs something with respect to a specific lesson, their grownup should reach out to their teacher. If a student needs support overall in managing this new form of learning or this new reality, their grownup should reach out to one of us.

TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES, AND OUR KIDS

  • I did not write this, but it holds true: Reposted: very true….

Dear parents with school aged children,

You might be inclined to create a minute by minute schedule for your kids. You have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments, and book reports. You’ll limit technology until everything is done! But here’s the thing…

Our kids are just as scared as we are right now. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off of school for 4 weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like summer break, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.

Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behavior issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally – it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behavior in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.

What kids need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you tear up your perfect schedule and love on your kids a bit more. Play outside and go on walks. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.

Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will all course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do math. Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate 2 hours of learning time if they are resisting it.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those 4 weeks is long gone. So keep that in mind, every single day.

Stay safe. X

  • These are tough times, and we have to be kind to ourselves. We are all trying our best, and that is all that we can do. We are here to support one another.
  • We are thinking about how our school community can help ward off the coming social recession as social distancing continues. Our PAC and staff are brainstorming virtual social opportunities and any parent who has the time to facilitate an online social interaction, once a week for an hour, is encouraged to email us with their ideas. This week we will be hosting a Virtual Challah bake on Thursday (details to come).

ASK A “HOW MIGHT WE?” QUESTIONS

Optimism and creativity are going to be really fantastic tools to make this virtual school fun and successful. We want you to be dreaming up new ideas all the time and sharing them with your class and with the whole school. Keep asking yourself “How might we” questions, like:

  • How might we have really fun virtual play dates with friends?
  • How might we work on projects with friends when we are in different homes?
  • How might we share great ideas for art projects with each other?
  • How might we teach each other how to do things that we have learned at home?
  • How might we make our friends feel better if they are sad?

FLEXIBILITY!

We are all going to do our best to learn and be happy. This is a new way of learning and a new way of spending time with each other. When we start something it almost never works out exactly as we plan. So, we have to be flexible.

  • When something doesn’t work out (like your ZOOM class gets canceled, or a video you want to share can’t upload quickly, or you left a class not understanding something a teacher taught), it is really normal to feel angry, frustrated and/or sad.
  • And, it is also really important not to blame yourself or someone else. Instead, we need to try hard to be flexible in the moment—to smell the flowers and blow out the candles or take a deep breath—and then describe the problem to someone else and think about what you can do together to make it better.

Flexibility is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can work on right now, it is probably the quality that will make you most happy whether you are a student, teacher or parent.

Finally, we need to continue to give each other permission to be nervous and space to make mistakes. We need to recognize that we are in uncharted territory and that all the work we are doing to keep the learning and Jewish experiences moving forward is not designed to be an additional burden to bear or set of logistical or technical roadblocks to overcome. Thank you for your patience and your support as we go on this journey together. We are blessed with talented teachers, sensational students and passionate parents. I couldn’t be prouder of being part of the RJDS. Take care of yourselves and each other…

Morah Ronit