By Ted Chen, Head of Middle School
The remote learning experience has called into question big-picture educational philosophy questions. It has amplified the question of whether schools across the country and world are still relying on an outdated industrial age model, and it calls for us to think about how we can shift away from that model in the years to come.
There have been positive aspects. Remote learning had teachers and students thinking differently, in creative ways, about demonstrating learning. Students showed their learning through new mediums and formats. For example, language students presented their understanding of verb conjugations by creating home-cooking shows and conducting interviews. Students in woodshop focused on interest-based creative projects, such as sewing, cooking, and writing music. All of these projects tapped into student passions and interests while fulfilling learning goals.
In many ways, the learning became more authentic and real. For a science class, students rummaged through their kitchens looking at ingredient lists in search of genetically modified organisms for their unit on the science of food. In the end, they reflected on their learning, connecting it back to the food they found in their homes.
Some aspects of remote learning will continue no matter what the learning modality is in the future. For example, remote learning helped further our divisional goal of streamlining systems to improve content delivery and acquisition. We found that some students were experiencing challenges with organizational tasks like tracking assignments or finding assignments on class websites. We made some adjustments and in the future we will be moving to Google Classroom as our learning management system to help students spend less energy on logistics and more on learning.
Remote learning gave us the opportunity to pause and think about the essential content, skills, and dispositions students need in middle school as well as into the future. And the experience has shone a light on the importance of the partnership between the school and home. With learning primarily taking place in the home, the partnership between teachers, staff, administrators, parents, guardians, and students became even more important. It’s a moment that I hope we all build upon to continue to provide the best for our students.