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MSAD #72 Remote Learning letter to Parents

posted Apr 3, 2020, 8:13 AM by Eric Wood


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April 3, 2020


Dear Parents:


The administrative team wanted to take a moment and send a message to parents about remote learning. Before getting into specifics, I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your understanding in this incredibly challenging situation. Just as we have stressed to teachers, it is critical that all of us take care of ourselves, because without that self-care it becomes impossible to support the other people in our lives. We hope that you are well, are taking steps to stay mentally and physically healthy, and most importantly are maintaining a healthy attitude about your child’s remote learning. 


Below are some very important ideas that we want parents to understand about remote learning:


  • Remote Learning is not intended to replicate what happens at school. During traditional learning, the teacher is present and learning takes place in a very structured environment. Schools also have many additional layers of support to help students learn. No matter how well intentioned parents are, it would not be fair to expect that parents will suddenly become teachers without the appropriate background and training. 


  • It is also true that school may not be the top priority for all families who are dealing with many other, equally important aspects of life. These issues include loss of income, job uncertainty, food scarcity, financial struggles, family illness, concern for family members, etc. While education is critical to a child’s long-term success, we also recognize that there are many other things to prioritize in these trying times. 


  • Different families have different abilities to support learning. Some families, with parents who are deemed “essential workers” and who are not able to be present during remote learning, have no ability to support their children during a “remote school day.” Other families who are sheltering at home may have the time and ability to support their children throughout each remote learning day. There are also different levels of access to technology, with some families having high-speed internet and other families without internet. This affects access to materials and the level of support teachers can provide. For these reasons it isn’t possible to have a “one-size fits all” approach to what students are doing at home. If you feel that adjustments are needed given your child’s experiences, please contact your child’s classroom teacher during “office hours” if possible or email your questions or ideas. 


  • It’s not about the grades, it’s about the learning. We have stressed to teachers that they are in the best position to determine appropriately challenging activities and learning experiences for students during the closure. We also feel that students deserve timely, specific feedback about the work they are doing. However, that doesn’t mean a numerical or letter grade. Our goal is to help students understand when they have developed a skill (multiplying two-digit numbers, using good supporting details in writing, etc.) or when they understand a concept (the water cycle, the causes of World War II, etc.). Teachers have been asked to find ways of giving students that important feedback and to do it in ways that are constructive and specific to the learning. 


  • With respect to “late” or “missing” work, please refer back to the second bullet above. The last thing we want to do is place unnecessary pressure on students and families by stressing late or missing work. We are encouraging teachers to check in with students to see if they can support students or offer ways of completing assignments, but we do not feel it is appropriate to overemphasize missing work. The best way those who are able to can support students is by: 1) making sure you understand what has been assigned; and 2) asking your children to show you the work and explain how they completed it. We don’t expect you to teach, but it would be wonderful if you show an interest in the work and encourage your child to explain how he or she has produced quality work.  


  • On our website (www.msad72.org) we have developed a link to “MSAD #72 Distance Learning Resources” where you can find each teacher’s “Google Classroom” link. For those people with access to technology, you can find materials, assignments, and much more depending upon how each teacher is using the tool. 


  • For parents who would like support (for those helping students with work), we have developed a form that you can use to request help. A staff member will respond as quickly as possible to those requests. 


In conclusion, we wanted to share some key points so that you have a better understanding of how we went about guiding teachers as they developed a remote-learning plan. We are checking in with families to see how things are going, but you are always encouraged to reach out to teachers, administrators, or other staff members if you have questions that we can answer. There is a link for general questions on the district web page. We are committed to learning and changing as we go to best serve your children, and we appreciate your patience through this journey. 


                            Respectfully,


                           

                            Jay Robinson




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Eric Wood,
Apr 3, 2020, 8:13 AM
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