The past several weeks have been a storm of uncertainty, presenting challenges that many of us have never faced before. But like a beacon of light through the fog, we find direction and strength in our community. Starting with meetings in early March and through spring break, our faculty and staff worked tirelessly to ensure that we deliver our promise of excellence to families and students while our physical buildings are closed. Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 marked the first official day of comprehensive remote learning for our Lower, Middle and Upper School students. As we navigate through this together, we grow stronger in every way.
What is Remote Learning?
Remote learning is not about students sitting in front of a screen, isolated for hours. It’s about creating authentic learning experiences in the digital realm while helping students maintain meaningful connections with their teachers and peers. We know that this will never replace direct interaction at school. But it will allow students to continue to progress in their studies and nurture relationships with friends and trusted adults. Our commitment to purposeful innovation over the years — paperless classrooms, remote classes through MSON, our learning management system, and more — has given us a running head start to keep Severn strong and agile as the world around us changes.
What Does This Look Like Day-to-Day?
Remote learning looks a bit different for our Lower, Middle and Upper School students, but for all three, it includes activities done together (synchronous) and independently (asynchronous). Using digital tools like Zoom, Seesaw and our learning management system, mySevern, in combination with packets of hands-on resources for younger students, we have created a balance for each grade that supports every student at just the right developmental level. This blend mimics how our students learn every day — both independently and collaboratively. Students will continue to have access to their teachers and administrators during normal school hours and we've provided families a remote learning guide that pulls together a range of expertise from the larger educational community, tailored to best meet the needs of Severn students.
Examples of synchronous work:
Real-time discussion sessions, demonstrations, lessons, and advisory meetings Zoom
Working online at the same scheduled time using mySevern discussion boards, Seesaw or other apps to learn and practice skills
Examples of asynchronous work:
Logging into mySevern for assignments, reading, and research posted by teachers on class bulletin boards
Working independently on longer-term projects with set due dates
Extension activities for Lower and Early School students to reinforce their learning from synchronous class meetings and lessons
Our communications team was busy visiting virtual classrooms on the first day!
Connection, camaraderie and physical activity are crucial to every student’s well-being. Just as with our regular curriculum, remote learning includes time for being active and together along with support for our students' emotional health. In our Lower School:
As part of our regular roster of special subjects, students will have Zoom class time with their special subject teachers including Spanish, science art, music, library and physical education with activities to do outside of class.
Our learning specialists will continue to work with classroom teachers to provide support and resources and will work directly with students through Zoom.
We will continue our Heartstrings classes, supporting the emotional growth of our young students.
In our Upper and Middle Schools:
While we’d much rather be giving high fives, hugs and a listening ear in person, students can meet with our counseling staff through email, Zoom and phone calls from 8:20-3:00 each day.
Students will meet with their advisory groups through Zoom on a regular schedule to address any logistical issues, work on advisory activities and spend time just hanging out.
Our Teel Campus athletic department is getting creative with weekly programs to keep our students and student-athletes active and building their skills during remote learning time, including positive messages, workouts, and more.
We encourage all of our students to get moving and get outside, safely, during scheduled break times throughout the day.
Our varsity field hockey team is finding clever ways to stay active and connected!
We Are In This Together
Although this is a tremendous amount of change over a short period of time, our faculty, staff, students and parents have been incredibly positive, flexible and encouraging — the outpouring of support is a reminder of what makes Severn such a special place. It’s not the space we share in our halls, it’s the space we share in our hearts and minds. As we all adjust to dramatic changes in our daily lives, dealing with loss in some form or another, we have each other to lean on and lift up. We got this, together.