Is it possible to simulate for students the eye-opening, transformative experience of international travel in a virtual format? Over Winter Break, Director of Global Education and Engagement Julia Dunbar and History Department Chair Dr. Megan Jones gave it a try.
Before I start this email, I want to tell you that I am thinking of you. All of us are. Everyone keeps saying that we are in a weird moment in history, and this is true. I’ve heard from so many of you that you are feeling strange about all of it. I am too. It’s not easy -- and, while being cooped up at home does have its advantages in some ways (you never have to consider dress code) -- we are all eager to see each other and to be together. I understand this and I feel it too. I miss you, I miss being in school, and I am thinking of you.
You probably have a LOT of questions about what is to come with remote learning. A broad email came through earlier this evening, but this one is geared towards you. First, a few basic facts: the first three days after spring break (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) are essentially snow days for you. Continue to connect with your friends online, read (!!!), walk the dog. Your teachers will be using these days to get ready for what comes next.
During those three days, you may want to set up a little workspace for yourself. Get a water bottle ready, some pens, notebooks, your favorite coffee mug, your glasses, your books -- whatever you might need. Have a little fun with this -- could make for some good instagram posts.
On Thursday, you will hear from each of your teachers. Consider this an ‘organization day’ of sorts. At some point during the day, each of your teachers will reach out to you to explain what you can expect during the first cycle of classes. This means your teachers may tell you they are going to hold “synchronous” classes during the times your class actually meets (more on this later). They may give you an assignment to complete over a week’s time. They may tell you that they are going to post something for you to work on during your class’ assigned block of time.
I want to stop here by saying that this is NOT going to be perfect. Everyone knows this, and no one -- not a single one of us -- expects that this will go smoothly. We are hoping to treat it like an adventure: something we can try our best at, knowing there will be pitfalls and successes. Most of all, adventures should be fun. So our hope, as a faculty, is to have fun with it.
We are going to follow the Upper School schedule starting next Friday, third block of the day. This is Period 1, and it will run from 12:10 - 1:15. You’ll know what to do for this class because your teacher will have told you the day before. You may be asked to log in for a virtual class session online. You may have been given an assignment to work on during this time. We will see! The same thing will happen for your Period 2 class, which will start at 1:45 on Friday. And then we will have a weekend before starting up with Period 3 on Monday at 8:30, and so on. (As a sidenote, everyone is going to take first lunch -- so your third block class every day will start at 12:10.)
This is going to be different for each class, and it is even going to be different for each class meeting. For example, my math class might be asked to do two virtual sessions at the class time, and use the other two class meetings in the cycle to work on assignments. Teachers are being asked to mix it up, and I am excited to see what they come up with. I think you’ll find that your classes will vary, both by discipline, by teacher, and by meeting day.
We are going to use Schoology for all of our updates and communication, so keep that in mind. We’ll submit and grade work there too, as that comes up. As far as extra help goes (so many of you have reached out to me, hoping your teachers will still be available for extra help!), your teachers will each let you know what works best for them. Of course they will still be available! Some may use flex and CP time to be online and offer face time. Others might identify office hours where you can email them or jump on a call. Again, this is going to vary, and I am hoping that it makes things a little bit exciting and not standard across the board.
I can’t tell you how many of your teachers have told me they miss you. I think you’ll find that connecting with you is their primary goal. I am going to ask that you make a good faith effort to do the best you can. That’s all we can ask and hope for. We are going to do the same on our end. We will try our hardest to support you and connect with you, and to continue our time together in virtual classes.
The deans and I have also been talking about how we can bring some fun and joy into all of this, so you’ll hear more from us with some ideas later. In the meantime, I really hope you are doing well. Feel free to reach out with questions -- I will do my best to answer them! Sending you lots of well wishes and good health. We can do this!!
Love, Ms. Chatterji