Learning from a crises
With the Fall school year rapidly approaching, it seems like a good time to reflect on the past and what we’ve learned. One of the biggest lessons of the last year for parents and school administrators alike is how hard teaching is during a pandemic! Not only did teachers have to be creative and engaging in the classroom but the last year required them to become experts in new technologies as well. The next hurdle for teachers to overcome was creating the strategies for getting students to participate in coursework from the comfort of their homes as well as in person. The challenges were endless but so we’re the rewards. Some of which might actually surprise you!
Online learning pros and cons from our teachers
I spoke with Maharishi School’s Third and Fourth-grade teacher Diane James about her experience, “I realized how deep my devotion and commitment was to have my students thrive academically and emotionally through this pandemic. I moved into action and by the end of the year they truly ‘graduated” from their grade. I introduced Padlet, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and Jamboard and surrendered to the technical genius of nearly the whole class to master each online program. These programs connect the hybrid learning situation we were in. We danced and exercised every day. We went outside whenever we could.”
The struggles that children experience in the classroom often indicate that a student may be having difficulties at home. In the case of the pandemic many members of our school community, students, and adults have experienced hardships.
Diane goes into further detail about this in her classroom, “I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I cried in front of them (her students). I had to share the times I felt extremely sad and impatient. I felt them as well. And yet, there was a class consciousness that said,” WE GOT THIS.”
David Pohlman is the Consciousness, Connections, and Life Skills (CCLS) teacher as well as the Residential Life supervisor for the boarding students at Maharishi School. Here is his reflection on what the pandemic has taught him.
“I’m impressed by the adaptable and responsible planning of our school leaders and my teaching colleagues who made a year of hybrid learning safe and successful. The students showed the same level of adaptability and responsibility and it created a sense of normalcy to the school year and whether in-person or online, the students progressed academically with hardly a blip.”
I also talked to Kaye Jacob who is the Academic Director of the Middle/Upper School as well as an ELA and English Literature teacher. She goes into greater detail about the learning curve of last year, “It is by sheer determination, dedication, and professionalism that the Maharishi School teachers
and staff were able to offer a hybrid model of education for students, essentially letting them choose the mode of delivery that made them feel the safest, even if it meant (as it regularly did) teachers on Zoom calls at 10:00 pm at night with students in Korea, or accommodating just one or two students on Zoom in the classroom while attempting to create interactive, hands-on activities for those attending in person.”
“It was a challenging year, to say the least, and I honestly hope that parents and students appreciate the level at which we were able to ensure that students were, for the most part, meeting or exceeding the curriculum standards in all subject areas, across all grade levels–and even participating in activities, when it was safe. It is a tribute of course to the resilience of our students themselves and their tremendous level of cooperation and even compliance with the safety standards we implemented, however restrictive they would have felt.”
The curve of online learning
A situation in which a student may be struggling can pivot quickly from containable to critical, especially if the student is already in a vulnerable group. What’s different about the last year for us is that our “vulnerable group” included every student, teacher, parent, and member of our community.
One of the biggest lessons of this past year is to be ready for the unexpected. This is why Maharishi School has put practices in place that ensure the safety of everyone.
We believe that in-person learning is the most effective and that the remote approach to learning is not ideal. However, our desire is to support each family in the way they believe best supports their children which is why we are offering both learning approaches.
While some of our students have taken to screen school with aplomb and even a greater degree of confidence, others have reported that it is stressful and tiring to be on computers all day long—and that meeting their friends only virtually makes them feel their isolation more acutely.
As an institution, we are committed to supporting our families and students. Please communicate if your student needs time with our mental health counselor or if you need an alternative tuition payment plan.
“Learning is, or at least should be, a social activity, as students exchange ideas and contribute to activities, building on the divergent skills and aptitudes in the group. It is much more challenging to attempt to simulate that exchange through online learning, although I am amazed at how resourceful our teachers were this year at getting students to be active learners even online, through clever apps and features available to them.” -Kaye Jacob, Academic Director
Want to read more about our Return-to-Learn plan, click here.
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