Getting Comfortable with the New Reality
Welcome to the new reality. Distance Learning is no longer looking like a short term solution, but rather we will likely be engaged with it for the duration of the school year. So what now? This post is about how to shift the mindset from a short term “survival mode” to a long term sustainable plan for parents who are struggling to support their child’s learning from home.
At the OJCS, we are acutely aware that this new normal is anything but normal and that parents are not designed to play the role of teacher, so please don’t. I read an article this week which likely resonates with many of you, but we hope that what is happening at the OJCS shifts this narrative and that our parents feel supported. Obviously, we do not have control over what the Government’s plan is in terms of child care, school and camp, but what we hope stands out from this article is that OJCS students are continuing to go ‘to school’ even while the building is closed.
The goal of our school is to help families make learning at home as stress-free and independent for the child as possible. We know that many parents are working. We know that many parents have multiple children at home of various ages and we certainly know and understand that our younger students will have a harder time navigating this type of learning independently.
What does the school want and expect?
- Partnership. When we work together we can accomplish anything. All we need to know from you is what is working, what is not and we will work with you to come up with a plan that is more manageable. We need to work together and we need to collaborate. We can’t be in your homes and your child can’t be in our building, but we are certainly available and willing to help your child succeed and succeed as independently as possible while ‘at school’.
- Flexibility. We want parents to know that everything is flexible. The schedule is flexible and designed to be asynchronous if and when needed. Some teachers are starting to list assignments in order of importance and priority for students who are unable to manage it all. The assignments themselves are flexible in terms of handing them in and how to accomplish them. Students can do it orally, do it by video, do it in writing, do it using assistive technology, do it next week, everything is negotiable as long as it is discussed with teachers. The only thing we are asking is for everyone to do their very best.
- Communication. We are listening to feedback and addressing individual concerns. Just like in school, what is good for one, is not good for another. Compromise, trial and error and adjustments are all allowed and expected. We need to give each other permission to be honest and to communicate openly. If one family wants a more rigorous schedule, they can have it. If one family needs a reduced load, and they can have it. This is not an indication that one child is thriving and succeeding while another is not. Each circumstance is different and we need to be honest about it looks like on a case by case basis. The only way we are able to help is if communication is open and honest.
- Realistic Expectations. We are interested in setting up students for success and meeting students where they are at in their learning. We want to help families set up realistic expectations that are sustainable. We are interested in shifting the mindset from survival mode to sustainable mode. Let’s work together to achieve the right balance.
Our building is closed but the OJCS is open and fully operational. Our goal is to ease the burden for working parents, not add to the stress. Our goal is to help students become self-directed, independent, confident, resilient, and thriving learners. We know there will be struggles, we know there will be tears, we know there will be meltdowns and frustrations, but the best thing we can do in those moments is support, validate and reassure. We also know there will be successes, achievements, innovation, and creativity- celebrate those moments together. If your child is struggling there is a skill to be taught. Empower your child to seek help from their teachers and find ways to problem-solve while they are “at school”. Taking a break, calming the brain, doing some exercise, walking away can all help reduce stress. Teaching these strategies to a child who is upset is empowering.
We thank you for your partnership, we thank you for your trust and we applaud you for your efforts in helping to make this work. We know, understand, and appreciate how challenging it is to be living through a pandemic.