All the research, the soul searching, the agonizing and all the planning led up to the best virtual opening day we could have imagined. The teachers and the students were very happy to see each other even if it was through Zoom. I popped in and out of all the classes, as I do every week, to see smiling faces and great discussions.
Adding another element to the fun of the day was the bagel delivery by members of our amazing Temple Sisterhood. It was a delightful treat to mark the day as a special opening day.
We have a wonderful and dynamic faculty this year, and it is with great pride that we point out that most of them are alums of our school. They have been preparing their lessons and working with me to learn the technology and marvelous online tools to ramp up the interest level. Using ideas ranging from Bitmoji classrooms to virtual timers, the use of brain breaks and dance parties engaging digital games and videos, we can present a great, engaging and interactive program that is worthwhile even if we are not together in the actual classroom.
We understand that there are struggles to the virtual classroom. Among the most frustrating are connectivity issues and attention span. We can’t do much about the Wifi, but we are doing everything possible to address the obstacles. We have implemented planned active breaks, kept a simple schedule, and are working to make sure every student is actively engaged while in front of the Zoom camera.
Our message is:
-a virtual classroom is not just "better than nothing”
….it is a different AND worthwhile experience.
-virtual learning is not the same as in person learning
….it is just a different WAY to learn and has many of its own advantages
The pandemic has caused a major shift in the way we live and certainly in the way we learn and teach. We are adjusting and reshaping our lives to make sure we can keep going, because we have to keep going. Virtual classrooms, and Zooming meetings are now a part of our normal, and are likely to be far into the future, even after the pandemic. Some have taken to it easily and others struggle but we are all making the adjustment.
I encourage everyone to embrace the changes in order to move on. Stay open minded about the use of technology to learn, and to stay connected….because, for now, it's safe and it works.
Stella Jeruzalmi Stanway, Principal