Our schools are small, close knit communities made up of children and adults committed to Boundless Learning. Before our schools closed in March, this looked like children visiting older adults, taking field trips to local institutions, sitting side-by-side reading or working on math problems with an older adult. However, after our schools closed, we learned that the physical space is not what joins us together. It is the desire to learn, innovate, and connect with each other on a daily basis.
Lesson Learned from the Spring
For the entire months of April and March, our students learned online. We provided over 400 Chromebooks and 50 Hotspots to families who needed a device to help their child access the lessons and their classmates. The online spaces allowed for students to remain connected to the people they had come accustomed to spending time with every day. Also, going online allowed for flexibility in the delivery of education. Throughout the 6 weeks of online learning, we incorporated the feedback or parents, teachers, and Learning Partners to make small meaningful tweaks to remote learning.
Online education was not perfect, but in the spirit of Lifelong Learning, we committed to refining the process until we arrive at something that would truly serve the needs of our families. Overall, we learned that students can successfully learn online within their village of support. This means, teachers and caregivers work together to educate the child. Everyone’s willingness to be flexible, communicate, and engage led to success in the Spring.
Combating the Summer and COVID Slides
Over the summer, we continued to refine the delivery of online education. The two biggest changes were teaching in smaller groups and placing more materials in the hands of students. Teaching in smaller groups allowed for the teacher to spend more time personalizing the lessons for the students. Teachers and students were able to build stronger relationships, helping the student to make educational gains. Also, books were mailed to the students. This gave the student something exciting to look for. (Who doesn’t like getting packages in the mail?) The books were for the student to keep and read on their own. This allowed for continuous practice outside of instruction time.
Boundless Learning in the Fall
We will begin the school year with all of our students learning remotely for the first six weeks. Unlike the Spring, we are better prepared to meet the individual needs of our students and their families. Built into the plan are intentional spaces for flexibility, consistent communication, family engagement, and supports services. This includes working with community partners to create spaces for children to learn safely while their caregiver is at work.
Although lessons and assignments will be made available online, this will not be the only way for students to learn. We are planning to send home books, supplies, and math manipulatives so that students can complete independent assignments offline. This will also allow for teachers to assign creative and engaging assignments that will keep the students’ attention and stimulate their imaginations.
Over the next few weeks, we will dive deeper into the Boundless Learning Reopening Plan. Updates can be found at igschools.org/reopening.