How does a micro-school support the safety needs of students during a pandemic and the social-emotional mental health needs of each child? We get creative! LEADPrep has done several things to adjust to the new normal.
First, we have created a hybrid schedule, with mornings learning online and afternoons outdoors–six feet apart and masks on. These afternoons allow us to have the social connection that so many children have been missing. With anxiety and depression increasing, right along with screen time, it’s been important to get students connected again safely with each other. We’ll shift to indoor “winter mode” with middle school on campus (windows open) two days a week and high school on campus the alternating two days.
A benefit of this in-person schooling is being able to create a strong sense of community. New teachers and students quickly blend into our school and communication is so much richer in person, even with masks on!
Options for Learning
Since learning in our parking lot is not as quiet and does not have as robust of Wi-Fi, starting our days at home allows us to connect over Zoom for topics that take more research, conversation, or internet access.
A benefit of this school-wide remote learning is that our mornings are grouped by middle and high school, instead of i-campus. So now our students have daily time with peers in their age group. Previously, they had Fridays with both campuses together for our service and experiential learning. This makes Socratic discussions and group projects more interesting, with more voices in the conversation. We’ll continue this practice for our virtual learners as we shift into winter mode.
Meeting Personal Needs
Each family has the option to choose fully remote or hybrid learning. This creativity allows families to meet their personal needs and for learning to be within each members’ comfort zone.
Our teachers have to plan ahead when it comes to supplies, especially for science and stem. Getting supplies out to the families or making them available for pick-up is an extra layer this fall. We appreciate how our in-person students are buddies with the virtual learners, creating more inclusion for students who are choosing to remain at home for learning.
Last spring we started to lean on our older high school students and tap into their leadership skills in new ways. We carried that over the summer with students teaching summer programs and providing weekly socials. Then, prior to school starting, the students hosted in-person and remote socials to welcome new and returning students.
Leaning on the support from our older students has been beneficial in not only ensuring there is student engagement, but for us, it has been a way to utilize what and who we have, creating enriching opportunities that students can expand on as they grow.
We have enhanced our leadership class this fall with a special advanced program for our juniors and seniors. We are looking for more ways to engage them in daily decisions and actions in the school. For example, in our school starting assembly, two of the students created a presentation to explain our 10 habits of success to their classmates. It is much more interesting than what a teacher would have come up with!
Our advanced leadership students are also leading monthly social activism activities, such as the Global Day of Climate Action that was held in late September. This was the first event students were completely in charge of. In fact, our teachers were elsewhere, at a professional development day! More on that later!
As you can see, getting creative in “the new normal” is a wonderful way to support all learners and to become a more learner driven school. Here’s to continuing to progress and evolve!