We’d like to begin by saying thank you for sharing your thoughts on our Remote Learning Plan via our survey. From all four divisions, we received 664 total parent responses. While we value all constructive feedback, and are actively engaging with every piece of data, we want to provide you with an overview of your feedback.
In addition, we surveyed our 6th-12th grade students (488 responses) and our faculty (106 responses). Overall, the general, high-level feedback affirmed many of the initial decisions we made around the Remote Learning Plan. It’s easy to forget that brick and mortar teaching is all that our faculty have ever known. The same is true for our students. It’s crazy to think that back on March 26, our first remote school day, our faculty were all first-year teachers again. And yet, overall, the stories our teachers have shared with us are that they are both exhilarated and exhausted by their work with your children.
Believe it or not, this is the strange sweet spot we had hoped for our faculty. This means that our teachers are taking risks and trying new ways to deliver durable learning. It also means that our teachers are doing really hard things. As Brené Brown says, “We have to name it, to feel it.” And while we acknowledge the shared feelings inside of us, we also acknowledge the shared task in front of us. Our goal remains the same: to deliver on our mission, even if in a different modality. Together, we will keep moving forward.
In the aggregated feedback, two major themes bubbled up to the surface across all four divisions: the need for more connection and more curriculum. Our kids crave increased face-to-face time with their teachers and peers. The lack of regular touch points is taking its toll, and we want to help better meet their social-emotional-spiritual needs. In addition, there appears to be an appetite for increased academic rigor. While it is not healthy nor sustainable to expect students to manage the same workload as before, it is true that as our students continue to find their footing in this “new normal” environment, they are capable of meeting scaffolded levels of academic challenge. That has been and what will continue to be what distinguishes a Casady student.
To that end, we are finalizing the 2.0 version of the Remote Learning Plan. Our Division Directors will provide you more information about what changes your children can expect for next week, starting on Tuesday. Part of what our teachers need to pivot into the “2.0 schedule” is time to prepare for the changes. For that purpose, on Monday, we will not have classes in Primary, Lower, and Middle Division. Monday will serve as a “reset day” for teachers. That said, the Middle Division will have an advisory on Monday to orient students to the schedule changes. Because there are no major changes to the Upper Division 2.0 schedule, 9th-12th grade students will have regular classes on Monday.
One of our promises to you going forward is that we will not leave your student behind. Notably, we are always asking, What do our students need in order to be successful at the next level? In conversation with peer schools and educational experts, we are confident that our short-term plan aligns with best practices for remote learning. In the long-term, we are starting to brainstorm how we can close any skills/knowledge gaps, whether that might involve something like academic boot camps in July, or potentially starting school a week earlier in August. Whatever we decide, we are confident your students will be on track.
Going forward, we plan to continue to survey parents, students, and faculty more frequently to serve as a metric to gauge the effectiveness and sustainability of our Remote Learning plans. Your continued participation will be much appreciated, along with your continued flexibility, patience, and support.
In closing, this is certainly a challenging time. We’ve asked our faculty, our kids, and you all, to do hard things. But as our Primary Division teacher, Jen Matias, likes to remind us through song, “We can do hard things together.” That’s the key, isn’t it? Together.
Faithfully and Courageously,
Nathan L. Sheldon, Head of School
Josh Bottomly, Associate Head of School for Academics