Concord schools staff look to learn from remote learning as they prepare for the fall 

Monitor staff
Published: 5/16/2020 6:33:20 PM

Although the school year is not yet over, Concord School District officials say they are already looking ahead to the fall and what instruction might look like for students.

“If we are forced to go back into some sort of a remote learning situation, we aren’t afraid of that. We feel comfortable that we can work something out,” Interim Superintendent Frank Bass said Friday. “We don’t know what the governor is going to do, we don’t know how the virus is going to behave over the next couple of months, but we’re always planning for the worst-case scenario.”

Bass said the ideal scenario would be that kids are able to return to classes like normal.

However, the likely scenario is a combination of the two. Bass said he envisions a rotating schedule where kids are split into two groups that come into school for two or three days a week and study in classrooms with 10 to 12 kids sitting fix feet apart. During their “off” days, kids would complete schoolwork at home.

The transition to remote learning has been a process the district is working to improve as they go and one officials hope to continue to improve upon in the coming months, Bass said.

In the final weeks of remote learning for this academic year, Concord High administrators sent out a memo to teachers asking for a 20% reduction in schoolwork assigned to students in response to results from a survey sent out in mid-April.

“Many students expressed that they felt like that workload was too large due to the amount of schoolwork they were already receiving in each class along with other individual obligations that each student faces during this time,” School Board Student Representative Alice Richards said during at May 4 virtual school board meeting.

Bass said the feedback is information the district will build on in the fall.

“You are always looking for the equilibrium – where is the breaking point where if I push too hard, either they get disinterested or it’s challenging for them and they turn off,” he said. “Then, if it’s too easy, it’s like, well, this is no fun because it’s too easy. You’re always looking for that fine line.”

“We had two or three days to get this together and hit the ground running, which we did and I think we did a nice job with that, but in doing so, you’re always going to run across the wrinkles: it’s too much, it’s too little, you haven’t thought about this, you haven’t thought about that,” he added. “I think we really spent a lot of time trying to access how well things were going and make the adjustments along the way.”

The survey, sent to students mid-April seeking feedback on remote learning experience, garnered 538 responses from students, Richards said. Based on the info that was provided, Concord High staff has taken steps to try to improve the learning process.

In addition to the staff memo, which recommended a decrease in workload, Concord High administrators asked that teachers only require assignments “necessary for student learning and evaluating student learning.”

The administration also worked with curriculum facilitators to establish end of the year dates for new instruction at Concord High, Richards said. For seniors, it is May 18 to the 22. For underclassmen, it is May 26 to 29.

“This allows for proper spacing of work and lesson planning for teachers as well as to ensure time for recovery and reassessments if students find that necessary,” Richards said.

Survey results also made clear that the most prominent challenges facing students in this time of remote learning were related to social-emotional and physical health, Richards said.

Guidance counselors have been reaching out to students who are at most risk, such as students with multiple weeks of unverified absences, or preexisting social-emotional, and physical health concerns prior to remote learning, officials said.

Guidance counselors are also offering office hours and availability by appointment to meet with parents and students. Many teachers and guidance counselors are creating pre-recorded mindfulness activities to further help.

Concord High staff have been following up with students who haven’t been participating by phone, GoogleMeets, letters, emails and pre-recorded office hours. Teachers are implementing more opportunities for face-to-face instruction over GoogleMeets.

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