Witnessing Lower and Middle School life on any random school day this fall, so much looks and feels the same as any other school year, and yet, so much has changed. At morning dropoff, “Have a great day!” and “I love you!” ring out from car windows as grown-ups drive away from the curb once their students have passed health screenings. Masked students happily skip into the building, making a quick pit stop for hand sanitizer along the way. At Morning Meeting, I see concurrent learners on Google Meet making announcements and waving to their teachers. Everyone enters the school day, albeit in different ways, for a day of learning and connecting.

In classrooms and outdoors, students engage in all kinds of meaningful learning activities: 8th graders sketch realistically shaped eyeballs in art class with Justice Goodner; 6th graders discuss the “The Danger of a Single Story” in Humanities with Anne Holmes; kindergartners practice Spanish vocabulary on a scavenger hunt with Tina Brown; 5th graders write fanfiction chapters of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder from their own perspective with Billy Spalding; 3rd graders collect falling and changing leaves to observe, compare, and contrast with Christine Brinkmann; 2nd grade math students create number lines with sidewalk chalk in empty gym parking lot spaces. Learning is alive and well, both in-person and for our concurrent learners in Lower and Middle School.

Meanwhile, concurrent learning protocols and safety and health protocols for in-person learners provide challenges and opportunities to grow as a community. Resilience, care, patience, and compassion abound. Teachers and in-person learners work together to be sure they join concurrent learners for classes and are engaged in the learning community as fully as possible. Concurrent learners are adapting, too, understanding that teachers may need some grace time as they move from classroom to classroom. Reconnecting technology platforms in each learning space and ensuring the physical needs of in-person learners take a bit of time before teachers log in to teach synchronous lessons to all learners. Our in-person students have adapted to the health screening checks, the frequent hand cleaning, table sanitizing, mask-wearing, and changing protocols in recess and lunch. The only semi-frequent reminder our in-person learners have needed is to remember to socially distance in times that seem unusual to do so, such as coming in and out of doors from recess. We remain committed to reminding in-person students of health and safety protocols until they are second nature to us all. Please discuss this with your students at home, too, reminding them of the importance of maintaining social distance of 6’ or more at all times, especially during transitions during the day. 

As we move forward into the second quarter of this school year together, we will continue to refine our concurrent learning practices and to find ways to make sure all of our students are making progress as learners and as growing, thriving humans. Thank you for your continued partnership as we do school in ways that respects the young people entrusted into our care! We are always here to listen, to learn, to collaborate, and to support you as we work with your children. Please be sure to answer the survey should you decide to change your child’s mode of learning for the upcoming decision period, too. We’re excited to continue the work of teaching and learning this year, both responding to the unique challenges of our changing world while also learning valuable lessons that will enable us to live out our Vision and Mission as a school more fully.