Additional Guidelines for Teachers and Parents to Enhance Effectiveness of our Academic Continuity Plan

10 Guidelines for Teachers

The transition to distance/hybrid learning will not be simple or easy. Teachers will need to think differently about how to communicate, provide instruction, and give feedback. Teachers will need to evaluate how to design lessons and assignments that are authentic and meaningful and how to ensure students continue to collaborate and communicate with others, following our Deeper Learning principles. The ten guidelines provided below are intended to help teachers across all sections and levels reflect upon challenges of shifting to distance/hybrid learning.

1. Focus on our core value of caring by first providing socialemotional support:

In the event of any type of crisis that leads to the implementation of this ACP, your students may be stressed or worried. Before diving into curriculum, take the time to assess your students’ mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. How are they doing? How are their families? Continue regular check-ins with your students (informing counselors if necessary) throughout the implementation of our ACP.

2. Evaluate your students’ conditions for distance/hybrid learning:

While most students may have reliable online access at home and the necessary devices to shift to distance/hybrid learning, you should not make that assumption for everyone. Teachers should remember that each family’s circumstances will vary, and they should avoid assumptions about limitations or restrictions students are facing. Ask your students and/or their parents to confirm their location (possibly not in Colombia) and time zone; whether their online access is reliable; and what devices the students have at their disposal. Open a dialogue with families and avoid presuming that all students’ circumstances are the same.

3. Less is more:

If CB implements this ACP, one of the major challenges confronting teachers will be how to best streamline content and elevate the most essential learning for students. In other words, teachers need to take a less-is-more approach, including the pacing of lessons and assignments using the pre-selected power standards/benchmarks and focusing on the development of fundamental skills (our 6 Cs). Circumstances might make it difficult to know exactly how long school partial/complete closure might last, which makes longer-term planning difficult.

4. Stick with the familiar:

Especially in the first week after moving to this ACP, teachers should continue using existing communication channels and learning management systems, which are described in this hub. In other words, stick with what’s familiar to your students. Teachers should remember that while many students will thrive with distance learning, others might struggle. In the event that the school remains partially/completely closed for a longer period, you may find it necessary to explore new or different learning platforms that provide diverse experiences. In the beginning, stick with the familiar.

5. Seize the moment; embrace new opportunities and possibilities for your students:

Years or decades from now, how will your students remember the emergency that resulted in school closure? While distance/hybrid learning should attempt to bring some normalcy and routine to student lives, teachers should not ignore the opportunities resulting from school closure from the perspective of a growth mindset. Teachers might require students to keep a daily journal or diary for the duration of the crisis. Personal journaling and/or other creative writing assignments can help students process their thoughts, worries, and emotions, particularly in times of crisis. Students might use other media as well, including video, drawing, painting, and music. Moreover, regardless of students’ personal strengths, the crisis might also provide other real-life opportunities to grow and study scientific phenomena associated with the crisis, how the media are reporting the incident, how governments are responding, and many other opportunities to design new transdisciplinary learning experiences.

6. Provide space for personalized/differentiated learning:

Distance/hybrid learning can provide opportunities for students to personalize what, how, and when they learn. Students can move more Flexibly and freely through content when teachers create nonlinear curricula. Distance/hybrid learning can also provide students with the opportunity to learn at different paces considering their voice and choice. School closure also creates opportunities for more authentic learning. How might they share these new experiences with their classmates? How might students be empowered to create their own learning pathways and experiences? How can teachers provide more differentiated support based on the reality of each student experience/performance level?

7. Designers of experiences; activators of learning:

In shifting to distance/hybrid learning, teachers need to think of themselves as designers of experiences and activators of learning (as opposed to distributors of knowledge). Distance/hybrid learning places a premium on a teacher’s ability to think more deeply about how to introduce content, design experiences, and coach students with thoughtful, specific feedback. Teachers need to establish conditions where students have clear learning outcomes, a more specific sense of purpose, opportunities to express themselves, and experiences that allow them to work toward mastery. Taking these steps will help students stay motivated and engaged in learning, even when they are not physically at school.

8. Design asynchronous learning experiences:

When school is partly/completely closed, teachers can still connect with students asynchronously. For example, teachers can use familiar online discussion forums which allow for student responses and dialogue, knowing that students might not all be online at the same exact time. Do send them videos with encouraging/reassuring messages from you. Students need to see your face in times of crisis.

9. Design synchronous learning experiences:

When it comes to student engagement and learning, relationships matter as much online as they do in person. In the event of campus closure, students should be able to gather for synchronous learning times via video chat. Collaboration remains important, and teachers should look for creative ways to foster it through synchronous learning experiences too, when possible (see schedules below).

10. Think differently about assessment:

Assessment remains one of the most challenging adjustments for teachers to address during distance/hybrid learning. Distance/hybrid learning should be seen as an opportunity for students, individually or collaboratively, to complete writing assignments, design infographics, make video presentations, or complete oral assessments via video chat. Teachers are encouraged to think differently about the end goal of student demonstration of learning instead of forcing a traditional assessment method that does not match the distance/hybrid learning environment. Thinking differently about assessment, and making it more authentic, will positively influence the experience for students, leverage the strengths of distance/hybrid learning, and prevent frustration on the teacher’s part when traditional methods prove ineffective.

10 Guidelines for Parents

The transition to distance/hybrid learning will be challenging for families. Parents will need to think differently about how to support their children; how to create structures and routines that allow their children to be successful; and how to monitor and support their children’s learning. Some students will thrive with distance/hybrid learning, while others may struggle. The ten guidelines provided below are intended to help parents think about their role in supporting their children find success in a distance/hybrid learning environment.

1. Establish clear routines and expectations:

From the first day CB implements its ACP, parents need to collaborate with their children in establishing routines and expectations. CB encourages parents to set regular hours for their children’s schoolwork. We suggest students begin their academic activities at 7:30 a.m. Parents should make every attempt to maintain normal bedtime routines for younger children and expect the same from your MS- and HS-aged children, too. Your children should move regularly and take periodic breaks as they study. Parents should set these expectations for how their children will spend their days starting as soon as distance/hybrid learning is implemented, not several days later after it becomes apparent a child is struggling with the absence of routines.

2. Define the physical space for your child’s study:

Your child may have an established place for completing homework under normal circumstances, but this space may or may not be suitable for an extended time, as might be the case with ACP implementation. We encourage families to establish a space/location where their children will learn most of the time, ideally, a public/family space not in a child’s bedroom. The setting should be quiet at all times and have a strong wireless internet signal, where parents can monitor children, if possible.

3. Monitor communications from your children’s teachers:

Teachers will communicate with parents through email and/or platforms used, as necessary. The frequency and detail of these communications will depend on your children’s age, maturity level, and the degree of their ability to complete independent work. CB generally encourages parents to contact their children’s teachers; however, we ask you to remember that teachers will be communicating with dozens if not hundreds of student/parents, so communications should be essential, brief, and self-aware. We also encourage parents to have their children explain the platforms being used.

4. Begin and end each day with a check-in:

Parents are encouraged to start and finish each day with a simple check-in time with their child(ren). In the morning, ask about your child’s learning plan for the day. What are their learning targets or goals? How will they spend their time? What resources do they require? What support do they need? This brief grounding conversation matters because it allows children to process the instructions they have received from their teachers. You can also help them organize themselves and set priorities. Older students may not want to have these check-ins with parents (that’s normal!), but please make these check-ins, nevertheless, a regular part of each day. Remember that not all students thrive in a distance/hybrid learning environment; some struggle attempting to manage too much independence or lack of structure. These check-in routines need to be established early, before a student falls behind or begins to struggle.

5. Take an active role in helping your children process and own their learning:

In the course of a regular school day at CB, your son or daughter engages with other students and/or adults dozens if not hundreds of times. These social interactions and opportunities for mediation include turning to a peer to exchange a thought or idea, participating in small or large-group discussions, asking questions for clarification, collaborating on group projects, and countless other moments. While some of these social interactions will be re-created on virtual platforms, others will not. Students often learn best when they have opportunities to process their learning with others. Beyond the check-ins recommended at the start and end of each day, parents should regularly circle back and engage with their children about their daily learning. You should also make sure that your child does his/her own work; refrain from completing assignments for them, even if they are struggling. You should inform the teacher if this happens, so extra support can be provided during the allotted times for this purpose. See schedules.

6. Establish quiet times for work and reflection:

A major challenge for families with multiple children will be how to manage all of their children’s needs, especially when those children are at different ages and have uniquely individual needs. You may find times when siblings need to work in different rooms to avoid distractions. Parents might also consider experimenting with noise-cancelling headphones (no music necessary) to block out distractions.

7. Encourage physical activity and/or exercise:

Make sure your children remember to move about the house and exercise. These steps are vitally important to their health and wellbeing as well as to their learning. CB’s physical education teachers will recommend activities or exercises, and parents should model and encourage exercise for everyone in the family!

8. Remain mindful of your child’s stress or worry:

CB will only implement this ACP if a serious crisis event or emergency has occurred. If this happens, the probability increases for the need of parents to help their children manage the worry, anxiety, and range of emotions they might experience under these circumstances. Although a difficult undertaking, parents should make every attempt not to transfer your own stresses or worries to your children. Students will most likely be impacted by the factors causing a distance/hybrid learning context, whether they admit it or not, and they need as much normal routine as parents can possibly provide.

9. Monitor how much time your child is spending online:

CB does not want its students to be in front of computer screens for 7-8 hours a day. Section principals and teachers will periodically check in with you to assess what you are seeing at home and what we might need to adjust. We thank you in advance for your partnership during the learning process!

10. Keep your children socially interacting but set rules around their social media use:

Students usually feel excited when school closes for a day due to national strikes or other short-term events related to safety. In the event that CB implements this ACP, the initial excitement of school being closed will fade quickly when students start missing their friends, classmates, and teachers. Parents should help their children maintain contact with friends and see them in person, when circumstances permit. While attempting to maintain this connection, you should also monitor your child’s social media use, especially during an extended school closure. In general, older students will rely more on social media to communicate with friends. Social media such as Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook are not ​official school channels of communication. CB recommends that parents monitor their children’s use of social media – remind your children to be safe, polite, respectful, and appropriate in their communications and to represent your family’s values in their interactions.