Figuring out what works
Oak Meadow teachers and students have demonstrated remarkable perseverance, creativity, and agility in meeting the significant challenges generated by COVID. This has contributed to a remarkable success story for our school.
Teachers have quickly adapted to new technologies to meet the challenges of working with students who are learning at home. They’ve integrated Google classroom (older students) and Seesaw (younger students) as new learning management systems in the school. They’ve worked with a level of complexity in hardware that is not typical in most other schools. The use of Webex boards and cameras allow students at home to have an interactive experience that feels more like being in the classroom and less like a passive observer simply watching from a computer screen. Teachers have also prioritized individual relationships with students, using technology to ensure that every student has the opportunity to continue their own unique learning journey during this pandemic.
Students have adapted too. Students at school have found ways to live within health and safety guidelines, wearing masks and physically distancing while still retaining a sense of team collaboration, both with the students on campus and those at home. Students have had to adjust their methods of research and learning and presentation because of new limits on the resources available. Students have had to find new ways to advocate for themselves, to be seen and heard, especially for students learning at home. This has motivated students to develop new ways of being organized and making sure they communicate regularly with their teachers.
In my past experience, I have found that teachers are very comfortable talking about a life of learning. When it has come to technology, however, I’ve found that this can often be outside of a teacher’s normal comfort zone. What Oak Meadow teachers have demonstrated during COVID is that they are all learners, adapting, growing, and getting better in their use of technology, week by week. What seemed intimidating back in August (using new platforms, systems, and hardware) now has become possible and workable. Teachers at our school know that they can try new approaches with technology, test ideas and methods, take calculated risks, and constantly iterate in their teaching practice to achieve a better result for the students.
If you would like to see a wonderful example of this, I invite you to see how our nature specialist has been finding ways to use video to connect the students to meaningful content and learning experiences. Click here for video. This is a testament to the way that a teacher’s passion for the subject matter can still drive learning, even for students learning at home. It’s also a testament to the way teachers have risen to the challenge to adapt and change for the benefit of their students.
In many traditional schools, “hybrid learning” means that students cannot all come to school every day. Instead, at Oak Meadow we use the term “blended learning” to signify that all of our students are learning every day, even the students who need to learn at home right now. In our school, every student is learning every day, as part of a shared learning community, and that has required a more effective model than “hybrid learning.”
This distinction highlights what makes Oak Meadow School different from many other school options. I have been so inspired by all of our teachers and the amazing work they are doing with students each day under challenging circumstances. It speaks to the strength of our school and the value we will continue to provide to students and families even after COVID is no longer a threat.