Mobilizing For The Unknown

Deborah Brissenden, Assistant Head of School and Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Post Date: March 30th, 2020
Brendan Largay

Way back it seems now, my weekly meetings with Brendan consisted of discussing, planning, and executing a long list of tasks from big picture strategic issues to mundane, but essential, logistics. Three weeks ago that changed dramatically as the topic of the coronavirus took center stage. Over the next week, research began, and structures created. My beloved curriculum review work was set aside as we dedicated faculty meeting time to planning for a virus that hadn’t yet reached our towns or schools.

Faculty leaped into the unknown with an energy that was palpable, designing developmental activities that extended and supported skills. Our work emphasized both flexibility and consistency for students and parents.

The planning involved everyone at BDS. The tech team mobilized, the building and grounds trio readied the buildings, and the business office tracked markets and redesigned predictions. Meanwhile, the kitchen donated food and canceled orders, our communications duo designed sites and planned messaging, the development and alumni offices reorganized meetings, and the admissions team re-envisaged opportunities for newly accepted families to learn more about BDS. Each group brought knowledge of their departments and needs to the table. The nimble Incident Management Team met countless times a day to make decisions, protect and provide for the community, and usher us all forward.

We’re still sprinting forward into our new normal, but with a quick look back, I couldn’t be more proud of our team’s responsiveness, responsibility, and care at every step of the planning. And this week, teaching faculty are doing what they do best; plan, deliver, observe and listen, readjust, and begin again. We are all becoming wizards at online meetings as we discuss feedback and push our thinking. We are discovering the structures that helped us start this journey need tweaking and adjusting. That some of our classroom routines and schedules translate well and some do not. We know that social distancing is really physical distancing because we crave the social connections that link us to each other.

I have had the pleasure of seeing the joy teachers bring as they use meeting apps to teach, chat, soothe, and laugh with their students. I have seen how the morning message and read-aloud reestablishes predictability in a landscape that feels unfamiliar. I have exercised with animal movements and jumped into a Spanish class Google channel. Non-teaching teams are checking on systems, keeping up with constituencies, and thinking ahead to reentry. A whole “building” of people is innovating, reflecting, reaching out, and learning how to improve together.

Please do all you can to stay healthy and connected. Keep checking in with us; your feedback is uplifting, informing, and impacting our work.

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