Life has changed considerably for all of us over the last six weeks. Different routines, working from home, finding time to be away from screens, making time for exercise, etc. For many of us, we have never been challenged to change so much in our lives over a such a short period of time.
For the most part, teachers are creatures of habit. Schools are built around timetables and routines that shape our daily lives. But in this current world of physical distancing and remote learning, our teachers have had to develop a whole new set of daily routines in order to teach their students, adjust their programs, plan ahead, assess work, and – of course – find time to look after all the other “life stuff” that has become much more complicated over the past month. Of course, the challenges of COVID-19 are global and wide-reaching, which means that everyone in our KCS community – not just teachers – are living much different lives these days.
Every teacher has come up with their own system to stay organized and teach effectively. Ms. Meleca in SK teaches some of our youngest students – a cohort that (unsurprisingly!) presents a number of unique challenges when it comes to learning at home. When she’s not spending time with her students on Meets (daily full class Meets, along with one-on-one and small group Meets throughout the week), she spends most of the day building and evolving an Early Years Program that is accessible, engaging, and appealing for five-year olds. Luckily for her, she’s part of an ELP team, all of whom are sharing resources and ideas during multiple WhatsApp chats and small group Meets every day. Those same ELP teachers also participate in a weekly Zoom PD meeting with teachers from other independent schools, where ideas and innovations are discussed. When she finally manages to tear herself away from her laptop, she can usually be found running errands for her sister (who is at home with a new baby!) or her parents. Oh, and she’s also trying to find time to re-plan her upcoming wedding, which was supposed to happen at the end of May! Busy times, indeed!
Another teacher who is planning and iterating with colleagues is Ms. Tenebaum. When she’s not in her grade 6 homeform, language, or social studies Meets, Ms. T can usually be found collaborating with her teacher partner Ms. Phillips. During those meetings, they plan upcoming lessons, reflect on what is and is not working well, develop support plans for individual kids, assess work, create organization strategies to share with their students, and brainstorm creative solutions to new problems. They usually meet up to four times a day. When she’s not working with Ms. Phillips, Ms. T spends time emailing with students and families or reaching out to the grade 6 specialist teachers to check in on how her students are doing in other classes. She also regularly participates in online learning and connects with colleagues from other independent schools to learn from each other. In the evenings, she checks in on her own kids’ schoolwork, shoots some hoops with the family, does a few household chores, and then relaxes with some TV or board games.
A positive daily routine is important for well-being, which is why some teachers have found that sticking to a consistent schedule is helpful. But probably nobody is better at that than “Ironman” Hayes! Here’s a peek at his daily routine: 4:59-6:00 AM – Wake up, make coffee, check email, and plan for the day. 6:00-7:30 AM – Ride indoor bike trainer while simultaneously filming “Working Out with the Hayes” instructional PE videos. 7:30-8:30 AM – Shower, shave, and get own kids (grades 2 & 5) ready for the day. 8:30-9:00 AM – 5S Meet. 9:00-10:00 AM – Work with own kids on math. 10:00-11:00 AM – Math class Meet or math extra help Meet. 11:00-12:00 PM – Science class Meet or science extra help Meet. 12:00-12:30 PM – Lunch with family. 12:30-1:15 PM – Go for 4-6k run with son. 1:15-2:00 PM – Work with kids on language/science/social studies. 2:00-3:00 PM – Planning and prepping for upcoming lessons, along with filming math videos. 3:00-3:30 PM – 5S meet. 4:00-5:45 PM – Bike ride and walk the dog. 5:45-6:30 PM – Spend time with his wife. 6:30-7:00 PM – Dinner. 7:00-8:30 PM – Brooklyn 99 time! 8:30-9:00 PM – Bath and bed for kids, and bedtime for Mr. Hayes as well! Whew!!!
As many of us have realized, working from home means that you often find yourself having to find new ways of doing things, as many of our typical approaches and strategies just don’t work in this new context. That’s something Mrs. Robins knows very well, as she and Ms. Hurley spend hours each day planning, reflecting on best practices for primary students in this learning environment, and developing new resources for their grade 3 students to use at home. She tries her best to provide resources like video lessons that the students can review on their own as often as needed, in order to better support their ability to do work with minimal parent involvement. Of course, these types of lessons and activities are not the ones she was providing just a few months ago, so it requires a significant amount of time to find and create these new resources. There’s also been a learning curve when it comes to technology for all our teachers, and Mrs. Robins is no exception. Along with learning new tech such as Google Meets, Jamboard (for “live” lessons), Screencastify, and more, she has also found time to support families and students with their technology learning. There’s also regular communication with families to ensure that the students are keeping up with the work and are not struggling academically, socially, or emotionally. Throw in the class Meets and small group lessons each day, and you see why virtual Pilates and family movie night have become a welcome break in the evenings!
We know that this is a stressful time for everyone. The teachers at KCS love what they do, and they are deeply committed to helping each and every one of their students manage this new learning experience the best they can. They have rolled up their sleeves and developed entirely new lessons and programs, all because they want their students to not only keep learning, but to also have a degree of normalcy in the midst of a time of uncertainty and anxiety. Sure, things aren’t always perfect, but that’s what happens when you are “building a plane while flying it”. We know you and your kids are working just as hard. So together, we’ll keep working, keep figuring things out, and come out at the other end stronger and more connected than ever.