I am incredibly tired today, physically worn out. It took a very different kind of attention, focus, and energy to be at school with new students and families this week–to be out, to be social and interacting in person–yet in a completely different way. Ensuring that I am following and they are following all safety protocols, . I am grateful that the weekend is here. We made it through Week One of our reopening and return to school at GVP.
It has taken a great deal from each of us to get to this moment, but the result of our intense planning, preparation, energy, and effort has brought us to a beautiful place.
I am so deeply grateful for the commitment to excellence, the enthusiasm, and the focus on students and families that runs through the roots and foundation of what we do at GVP. Each member of the team is committed to lifelong learning, creativity, risk-taking, and innovation for the sake of our students and school. We engage deeply in reflection, research, assessment, and re-imagining in order to bring the best that we can offer to our new and returning students and to the alumnae, families, volunteers, partners, and friends that are connected to our community.
So, while my body and mind are heavy and tired today, my heart and spirit are light. I am proud of what we accomplished together as a team. I am encouraged by the joy and eagerness of the new parents and students who came for registration and enrollment sessions at school. I am excited by the fact that every single one of our GVP returning students joined in our Welcome Back orientation sessions online. We had approximately 80% attendance on average across all classes and had 100% contact with every student and family. Given the myriad challenges and possible hurdles facing our families, I think this is extraordinary. For those who missed classes, they struggled mostly with internet connectivity and technology issues.
It took many hundreds of calls and chats and at least 5 home visits to bring us to that end result, but this is what is required of us right now in these unusual times. If we expect our students to come and learn how to use a stylus, Google Classroom, and Zoom raise-hand features, and if we want them to sing, move, learn and share while at home on computers, then we must be willing to put our relationships and connections first. And to put in the extra time and intentionality required to build and strengthen those. I know that this is why our students were in school this week.
In addition to connecting with students and families, GVP teachers have learned to use Google Classroom, Zoom, Flipgrid, Screen Cast-o-matic, and more to make lessons online enjoyable, engaging, and reusable. We want to teach and support students to be both powerfully collaborative and strongly independent and invested in their personal growth and learning. We want them to be able to go back to lessons and videos that will be archived in the Google Classroom when they need reinforcement or remediation. We want to empower students to voice their needs, questions, and concerns and to take responsibility for their learning. We want to help them develop powerful digital literacies alongside new print literacies. While things will be different and less than ideal in many instances during this pandemic and remote learning time, there are valuable lessons to be learned and new learning for all of us. We will add to our toolboxes and build up our repertoires as both teachers and learners and be empowered to act in and on our world in new ways.
So, I call Week One a huge success for our students and school. I look forward to what the next week will bring, as we welcome our newcomer students on campus for introductory technology and digital literacy classes. Our goal is to prepare them for online and at-home learning, but we will also be singing together and getting to know each other better—building a new learning community. Our returning students will continue with practice and preparation in online orientation sessions. On August 31, we will start “official” online schooling with all classes and a new schedule for all students.
It feels good to be back in school. It feels great to be surrounded by such an extraordinary superhero team and a strong community of support. I am thankful for GVP and for the ways that our collective work changes all of our lives and offers us all powerful opportunities for learning.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – Harry S Truman
“Development is a series of rebirths.” – Maria Montessori
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking