Well, you know we are in a “new normal” when emails are sent out at 4:37 on a Saturday, to respond to changes since Friday.
Our teachers received an email, ahead of the posting of a letter to parents on our board’s website, letting them know that our online population has grown from 54,000 to more than 64,000 in the past week, and so additional time will be needed to build a new timetable, to ensure an equitable and successful start for all staff and students. For our secondary folks this means that their students will work on a cross-curricular independent inquiry project aligned to our core subject, which can then be reviewed by teachers as a pre-instruction assessment, to gauge where students are in their learning. Students will have access next Tuesday, will receive their timetables by the end of the week, and will join their classes the following Tuesday.
I’m hoping that this additional time will provide a respite for them, following four days of COVID orientation in their community schools. And knowing that they will have some time to prepare before launching their synchronous classes should offset the anxiety that this uncertainty might be generating.
I’m thinking that, if this trend continues, we should change our language from “excessed” from the community school to “seconded” to the Online School. I’m also imagining that for some teachers the fully online will have some appealing features missing from the hybrid community school model. They will see their students every day. They will be working with a full class each day, rather than half. They will be able to create a scope and sequence and then follow it in a cycle between synchronous and asynchronous. And they will be able to refine their online processes, and develop expertise.
And those in our community schools, where they see half a class on Monday morning, and the other on Thursday morning, with asynchronous between, and a synchronous session on Tuesday and Friday, will have a more challenging planning task ahead of them. Three different learning environments within one class, and not always in the same sequence, will require that they abandon their linear approach. It’s likely to be unsettling, but I think it will break down some of the routines, and promote creative solutions to better serve our students.
In both settings this promises to be a year of growth and learning, for both teachers and students.