Prepping for School Closure

March 13, 2020

6 Things Schools Should Be Doing Now

Prepare the Communication System 
Most schools have a digital family communication system in place; now is the time to make sure yours is up to date and ready to be leveraged to its full extent. Two systems typically seen in NYC are Remind and Schoolcnxt (which does language translation). But they are only as good as the data feeding into them.  Check that your family contact information is current. Schoolcnxt has printable invite codes to take home to capture current contact info.  Both platforms do classroom rostering - make sure those are up to date and that your teachers are trained on these easy to use systems. 

Prepare the Communications
Here are the letters that central has been sending home.  What does your school community need to know in addition to this? Here are some guiding questions:
    1. What are the communications you already have in place?  
    2. What should the frequency of communications be in this new environment from both you and your teachers?  
    3. What guidance do teachers need about how to communicate with parents and their students about coursework and academics? 
    4. What templates do you need for new types of communications?

Set Up the Virtual Classroom

Google and their suite of tools (including google classroom) offer unlimited potential for distance learning. If you are new to google classrooms, set one up today, and get your students oriented while they are still in school. Google Classrooms are easy to use and offer a great organizing structure for your material and assessments.  Online resources and tutorials are abundant and high-quality.

Here Is the Hard One. Prepare the Content.

Don’t let content preparation kill your momentum. Take it one activity at a time and recognize that not everyone will be able to set up high-functioning flipped classrooms over-night. If teachers are brand-new to distance learning, look for quick wins. What would one learning focus for students look like online? What’s the structure? A simple approach could be:
    1. Give students a 10-15 minute reading or video or learning activity.
    2. Set up a group-discussion about that activity w/ prompts - something simple, a text chat back and forth, forum or message board.
    3. End with a simple check for understanding - a google form quiz, or a prompt assignment asking for a short written response.
    4. Follow up with students and guardians who do not engage.

Online content abounds. Below is a very incomplete list of places to start gathering ideas:

Rally the students!
Will students be excited about learning at home? Or will they see this as optional? Will they know what to do or what is expected of them? Teachers should start orienting their students to online learning and the systems they want to use now. With everything going on, students are also going to have their own concerns and stresses. Here is a great article on how one school is communicating with families and talking to students.


Maintain your school culture
How will your staff and teams communicate and collaborate? A sense of community and building relationships of support in a time of crisis can be an opportunity for schools. Teacher Leaders (formal and informal) can be a great support here - empower them to setup virtual morning meetings and virtual spaces for sharing resources and best practices. Google Hangouts, Facetime, Zoom are great tools for staff collaboration.

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