Sustaining Community and Connection

 

By Dawn Isaacs, Head of Beginning and Lower Schools

When we departed campus in March and embarked on remote learning, we could not imagine how much about the world would change before we returned, or the ways the essence of education would be examined and revealed.

Teaching and learning from home have forced a clarification of what is most important about being at school. We’ve needed to simplify, distill what is most important to learn, and allow children individualized paths. Through this process, we’ve been reminded of the importance of human connection and seen the power of a more personalized experience.

While learning from home, some children have thrived because of the ways the experience could be tailored to meet their individual strengths and needs. Many were comfortable in their own spaces and able to balance their needs by setting their own pace for the day. Our learning platform allowed teachers to give individual feedback to students and differentiate experiences.

This time at home has also highlighted the importance of relationships and reminded us how much about learning is social. Children construct knowledge by being in community with other learners as they formulate, test, and share ideas. Our remote learning was most successful when we found ways for children to sustain community. For all of us, it has become a time of national reckoning as the pandemic has amplified and made visible to more people the inequities inherent in our culture. It’s imperative we lean into our call to educate for democracy, and help children build, from within our classrooms, a more just society.

The way forward is a careful combination of fostering community and attending to the individual paths of each child. As we design teaching and learning, we will be accelerating our work to define what is most important to learn, helping children to build on their relationships as they practice how to show up as members of equitable communities, and allowing children the flexibility to learn and work in the ways that honor their strengths and meet their needs.