Notes From Dee // May 1, 2020
Hi Laurel Families, I hope you are all finding some positive moments during these homebound days! We have had quite a bunch of wonderful times with your children in the course of our daily online learning. I am proud to say that most of our students improved their i-Ready Progress Monitoring performance over the last progress monitoring done before we shifted to online instruction. I am confident that we continue to help students improve their skills on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, we have noticed a rise in the level of sadness and anxiety of some of our students about the events in the world now. We can see it in their tired faces and hear it in their discussions. There have been many articles written recently about the fears and worries of our nation’s children during this unprecedented time, and the ways that we as parents and teachers can help to alleviate these.
We are confident that the consistency with which we are providing instruction and socialization is very helpful. We also solicited the help of Mr. Rick Smith, our Guidance Counselor, who checked in with all of our students in grade-level groups this week about their thoughts and worries. Mr. Rick gave them options to help cope with challenging situations as well as small daily frustrations that seem bigger right now. Students also learned that they can feel free to reach out to him by email or through their teachers, at any time, to arrange a time to chat with him if they feel the need. He has already had individual conversations with some students, and we hope these discussions provided more support for our students during these times.
We realize that the stress of greatly increased screen time is a challenge as well. To address that concern, we have created more off line art projects and added some well needed fun, including Ms. Dee’s Read Alouds on Fridays. Today, we had our scheduled Early Dismissal day, with a bit of special programming. Upper School went on a virtual field trip to Ellis Island with Mr. Piccolo. Those students had a video tour and activities, and then they listened to Ms. Dee’s Read Aloud. Lower School had Reading and Math, each for a half hour, followed by their Read Aloud with Ms. Dee. We finished the week with an all-school Talent Show, as this was a very popular event last week that brought many smiles.
To celebrate all the hard work of our teachers and students, we have planned an exciting all school virtual field trip for next Wednesday, May 6! The event will involve several different activities chosen to entertain and educate. At 10:00 am, we will all attend an Eyes of the Wild Animal Show, a live event presented solely to the students at the Laurel School. Next, we will take a virtual tour of some sites in New York City to learn some local history and interesting facts about our neighbor city. Finally, we will all see a recorded live stream of a real Broadway play, “The Sound of Music,” to complete the day. I know this day will be terrific and will lift the spirits of our students. To round out the “field trip” experience, make sure to pack a bagged lunch for the trip and be sure the children get a good night’s rest to be ready for the fun.
***Reminder: We are all doing our best to ensure that learning happens seamlessly. As we go forward in these virtual learning days, we all need to make an extra effort to be mindful of providing a focused learning environment for our students. Please take notice of some elements such as loud voices or conversations in the vicinity of your child that may cause distractions to the learning of your child, as well as their classmates. Remember that teachers and other students can hear and see into your homes. At times some of what may be happening on your end of the screen may inhibit the best instruction. We all should strive to create an optimal learning environment even though we are not in an actual classroom.
Finally, we will all be celebrating the professionalism and passion for teaching of our teachers next week during Teacher Appreciation Week. We are so grateful to our teachers – the most caring and skilled faculty I have ever worked with! I hope you all find a moment to say an extra special thanks to them during this week of special recognition. Your kind words and thoughts are always appreciated. In this time of online learning, the recognition of their extra effort to make a wonderful environment and learning experience for your children carries even greater significance and gives them the boost they need to sustain their efforts.
Stay healthy and have a great weekend!