Teaching and Learning

The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the school will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.

These days will also be utilized for student orientation. This time will allow small groups of students to meet with their new teacher and begin to establish the relationship necessary for a successful school year.

As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.  

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs. We will work with the teachers, students, and their families to support their learning.

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice. 

Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study. 

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.

In-person Instruction

Upon reopening, the number of students in each classroom will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart.

Accommodating a six-foot radius around students will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into additional classrooms. Our school will minimize the movement of students. This means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the multi-purpose room and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, physical education, Chinese, and Technology) will be pushed into the classroom.  Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards. Frequency and length of classes has been considered in building a synchronous remote schedule.  Although we operate on an A/B schedule where core academic classes can occur on an in-person instruction day and electives can be held on remote instruction days, additional meeting times have been built into remote learning days to facilitate science lab periods, collaborative project time, and added instruction for AP and college-level courses. We feel that the collaborative periods on remote days can work to our advantage, allowing students to interact with each other across cohort “pods” and work with classmates who may be isolating in different classrooms.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

Both our hybrid and remote schedules will operate synchronously as demanded by the teacher’s schedule.  Students who are distance-learning must still sign in to a Zoom classroom at the prescribed time and teachers will take attendance for each online class. Direct instruction will complement our continued use of the Echo Learning Management System where students will be able to access materials and assignments for each project.  Students who are unable to connect synchronously can still complete classwork asynchronously in order to engage meaningfully with the course content.

For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

Remote/Hybrid Instruction

Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, our school has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.

Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

As noted previously, student schedules will remain the same whether instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.  Although the order of class periods may shift from hybrid to 100% remote learning environments, students will be able to complete credits in either setting.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students.  Teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.  Teachers will monitor their student’s engagement and reach out to schedule office hours if necessary.

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. We will use a five-scale grading rubric based on levels of competency/mastery, which can then be aligned to numeric bands (for GPA purposes).

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

For information about how remote/hybrid instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.