School as a source of stability and flexibility during an unsettling time
Simple first steps in re-establishing a connection
Students, teachers, and parents all took simple steps this past week to be reconnected socially and emotionally through our Webex meetings. Of course it is not the same as being together physically, but it was a wonderful way for students and adults to say hello, wave at a friend, share a warm smile, and remind ourselves of the bond we feel together as a community.
Here’s just a sampling of what happened this past week for the younger children:
Children in the Beginner’s program gathered together and sang songs. One child was excited to wave and point to “my friends.” A student eating breakfast tried to share the meal with another through the screen. Another shared a toy. One teacher summed it up, “it was really sweet.”
In Children’s House, a teacher told me that the morning “circle” online ended up being much easier than expected. Students and parents gathered in the virtual meeting room and loved seeing each other again. Each class used circle time in different ways — show and share, story time, calendar time, or a simple explanation of a lesson for the day. Teachers realize that it will take some work to adjust to this new meeting space. There is a need to develop new skills and habits that are not the same as a physical classroom.
A teacher in Lower Elementary told me “each day I get better at this, and the kids are getting more comfortable too.” One parent shared, “circle time is why my kid gets up right now.” One teacher heard from a parent that her child wanted to stay online working far longer than expected. These are positive first steps forward, yet there is still so much more to figure out in this new virtual world.
Being responsive to the stress caused by these times
All of us have been deeply affected by what’s happening in our world today. Jobs have been lost, friends are sick, businesses have closed, many people are having to work at home, and now parents are having to juggle the challenges of work and children learning at home.
That’s why teachers are checking in with students and parents regularly. Although each class will have a morning meeting each day, if a student is not able to participate regularly, that’s okay. The teachers will work with each family to support children and parents in a way that is as responsive to you individually as much as possible. If your child is not able to keep up with the classroom assignment for a given day or week, that’s okay too.
Learning how to cope — advice from an expert
According to social and emotional learning expert, Lynne Reeves Griffin, this may be a time where we must practice “physical distancing” but this is not a time when we should be practicing “social distancing.” I highly encourage all parents to read Lynne’s wonderful article, Parenting in Uncertain Times. I am so pleased to announce that Lynne will be hosting a series of parent webinars online next week, Thursday, April 2nd, at lunchtime. All parents will receive an invitation to the webinars later today.
In Montessori education, one size does not fit all
Parents should know that Oak Meadow School will strive to provide care, support, personalization, and flexibility to our children and parents in our new virtual environment. Our amazing faculty and staff are innovating, learning, and adjusting. We are resolute in our goal to continue to provide the best education to our students.
We pledge to you, our parents, that we will do this in a way that is as consistent as possible with our core Montessori philosophy about teaching and learning:
- Students of all ages learn best through hands-on experiences; when their minds, hearts, and hands are engaged; and when they develop a deeper understanding of the abstract through the concrete, tangible, and experiential.
- Students are respected as unique individuals, given space and time to explore subjects, follow their own inner guide, work at their own pace, and become inspired to pursue topics that are interesting and relevant.
- Students will have time to concentrate on work that develops their emotional skills, joy in learning, and positive social behaviors.
- Students will focus on their own continual growth, celebrate peer accomplishments, learn from their own mistakes, and become more resilient in facing challenges and overcoming obstacles.
- Students will have meaningful opportunities to work in collaboration, develop their skills in listening and empathy, and benefit from a multi-age classroom.
- Students will have opportunities to understand the context of what they are learning and apply this to the real world in which they live today.