It is the month of May with only eight weeks of school left for the school year 2020-2021. Be on the lookout for information about the city’s optional new summer school program as BNS will be open for the summer. Please fill out DOE survey to indicate interest.
As of now, over seventy-five percent of our students are going to school in person, whether that means blended or full time. Children are on site anywhere from two to five days a week. That of course, means that twenty-five percent are still at home five days a week.
We have found that our crew structure, which was developed back in August, works perfectly for the continuous rethinking of the school week. As families make the choice to send their children back to 610 Henry Street, we are able to easily bring them into the building without changing their teachers or classmates. They are simply spending more time with the in-person group. As we finesse the programming for these children, we have not had to take away from the programming for the students who need to stay home. It is a fine balancing act. We acknowledge that this structure was built to maintain community as classes and our whole building needed to close down and reopen when Covid cases rose and fell.
A number of families want their children to return to school five days a week. We have been able to do this for many. Each solution is unique for each crew and class. Our priority has been the importance of consistency in this very difficult year. To do this, we need to look at the number of children in each crew whose parents want them to be here as well as the number of children whose parents want them at home. We need to make sure that we have an educator available to work with the kids whether they are here or there. We have been able to do this because of our amazing staff and their collaboration. Through the willingness and hard work of our teachers, substitute teachers, educational assistants and paraprofessional classroom managers (a city-wide initiative), we have created programming for each child, each crew and each class. It is quite a complex process as we balance the many groups we have with the physical space within the building.
When we opened up in late September, we were struck by the quiet of our school building. How un-BNS like this silence was. We opened with only 45 percent of children being in person and of course, on any given day, there were even fewer students in the building. Now the school is humming with the voices of children. It is still not at one hundred percent, but it feels more like a typical BNS place.
What is striking always is the resilience of our students. Whether they have been mostly in person or on Zoom, they have made the most of their experiences. Unlikely friendships have formed, kindness has flourished and we have enjoyed observing our kids upon their return to 610 Henry Street. In all our years of teaching, we have never seen so much gratitude. Children are truly grateful for being able to be with their peers. This has heightened our understanding of the need for kids to be with kids. And again, we have our crew structure to thank since children are able to enter into a classroom and adjust with relative ease as the community is already known from remote learning. Occasionally, students are able to join us for five days a week. In this case, they may be working with a substitute teacher or educational assistant, but the connection with the classroom teacher remains, allowing for a relatively smooth transition.
A few parents have mentioned that other schools are bringing back all of their students five days a week. There are indeed schools where five days a week is an option, but it is an option only because so many of the students are still opting to stay home or because the school has an abundance of classrooms. In some schools, the five day a week option has resulted in children changing classes and teachers for the last two months of the year. This is very different from our structure, which requires a group of educators to work together to support your children whether they are in the building or at home.
We hope that this reflection explains our thinking as we continue to work towards a goal of bringing children into 610 Henry Street.
Please join us for next week’s May parent meetings, a time to discuss what worked this year and what we want to take with us as we move into the fall: Hidden Gems.
Same Zoom link for all meetings:
All for now,
Anna, Diane & Malika
Please check Konstella for Zoom links:
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