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Brendan Largay, Head of School

Closer and Closer: Improving Our Remote Learning Experience

Greetings at home, everyone. I hope this finds you well and preparing for yet another unique holiday season. However you choose to spend the break, we wish you safety, health, and joy!

This week, I offer a window into how the past two weeks of remote instruction have felt different and better than the way things felt in the spring. I begin with this important note: the power and benefit of onsite instruction are undeniable. We have no plans to substitute that experience based on the positive experiences I report on here.

The power of professional development

I frequently get this question from current and prospective parents alike: What does professional development look like at BDS? How are you ensuring that it translates into improved instruction? At no time has the translation of effective PD into excellence in the classroom been more apparent than it has in the past two weeks. Our entire teaching faculty took courses this summer offered by Global Online Academy (GOA) to prepare for these offsite weeks, and the returns have been excellent. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read Liz Gray’s recent article about the experience. GOA highlighted her article in its December newsletter as evidence of effective learning and implementation in the classroom by BDS faculty.

How much we’ve missed those smiling faces 

As our division heads have team meetings and other administrators offer office hours to faculty, we repeatedly hear about the delight teachers are taking in seeing the children’s smiles and whole faces. With mask-wearing as one of the trade-offs we have all willingly made to ensure our community’s safety during this pandemic, the cost has been seeing those wonderfully expressive smiles. As we consider the hopeful promise of a vaccine and a future day when masks are no longer necessary, it is a reminder of how vital the expressive cues our children give us are.

Learning why we thrive in different environments

A fascinating aspect of these remote weeks has been gaining insight into students who are thriving in unexpected ways. We might attribute this phenomenon to the often unconsidered sensory experiences and inputs that children navigate when they go to school each day—a new space, a different chair, classmates, and friends. All of these things are elements of why being onsite is so important. Yet for some students, the comfort of their own home, where familiarity and control over the sensory inputs that impact learning, has provided a notably positive experience. The ways that these students are thriving have teachers thinking of strategies to further individualize all students’ learning experiences upon their return to the classroom.

Belmont Day prides itself on being a school full of lifelong learners—students and faculty alike. This brief period has affirmed, yet again, our dedication to refining the inspiring and challenging BDS education we provide for every student.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Giving Thanks

On Tuesday, we will gather for our annual Thanksgiving assembly—an opportunity to express gratitude as a community.

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