It’s said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In Worthington, our transition from a brick and mortar school district to one helping 10,600 students learn remotely begins tomorrow. Make no mistake, this is a massive transition! There’s no question that our students access resources online already. They practice and learn via computer-based programs, they read textbooks online, turn in assignments and documents via digital workflows, and communicate with teachers and peers via digital devices. In the course of our normal school week technology plays a major role in every student’s life.
But with that said, we’re not an online learning institution. Our teachers are trained in helping the students who are physically in their classroom and our schools are designed to be places of interaction and working together. Since Governor DeWine closed all schools, our teachers in Worthington have been working to design learning modules and lessons for students to complete while at home. They’ve been learning new tools, collaborating with one another, creating read-alouds, and attempting to determine how much work is enough and how much may be too much. They’ve done all this without the ability to gather and learn together. I’ve been incredibly proud of our educators and the amount of work they have put in just to get to this point.
Last week was designated as downtime for our students. We all needed it! Teachers will be reaching out to students and families via email by tomorrow to share the plans for their classroom. Some teachers have already done so and some may be waiting to do so until tomorrow. We’re cognizant that families have undergone major transitions and are working to create a new normal at home. Our teachers are doing the same. I’d ask that you’re patient with this new learning process for the next few weeks. This is likely going to be really difficult and every family experience will be different. In some cases, I would predict that remote learning is not going to go well right away. In some cases, teachers may misjudge what students are capable of and assign more work than is possible. In other cases, it may be the opposite. Certainly, there is going to need to be a period of time where teachers determine what tools work best with their students and what doesn’t work as well as they thought it might. We’re committed as a school district to get better at remote learning every week that we do it. But it’s not possible to make the transition we’ve made without many, many challenges. Students will likely experience frustrations and challenges. Teachers will too! As we progress along this journey together please communicate with your teacher about what’s working for you and what’s not working for you.
We’ve provided some guidance to our teachers and here’s what you can expect:
“Grades should be maintained at the current level and not be impacted negatively due to this school closure. Please do not assign grades for new learning over this extended period in order to avoid penalizing students for circumstances beyond their control. Keep in mind remote learning may be unstructured. Assignments should be supporting and reinforcing the teaching and learning that has already taken place in the classroom. Please keep in mind that students have multiple courses and will be limited in their ability to receive supported and scaffolded instruction. They also may have additional responsibilities at home.
For the two week instructional period starting on March 24, a fair expectation for student time may be:
- At the secondary level, a maximum of 30-45 minutes, 3 times a week per secondary course
- At the elementary level, in addition to independent reading every day, work with reading/writing/math
- an integrated* maximum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week for grades K-2 OR
- an integrated* 30-45 minutes, 3 times a week for grades 3-6
- *By integrated, we do not mean 30-45 minutes per content area. Rather, a self-contained or departmentalized teacher may create a reading assignment using a social studies text, etc. Teams could coordinate this effort.”
We’re living in uncertain times. It’s not clear how long our extended closure will last but we believe it will likely last longer than the April 6th return date we currently have. During this closure, we’ll be working to support our students and families as best as we can. As we’re all learning and growing together there will be a great deal of trial and error. We’ll all need kind, constructive feedback if we’re going to improve. As a school district, we want to help every child learn as much as we possibly can even though schools are closed. We’ve asked our teachers simply to do the best they can. I’m confident that they will.
First and foremost, please be safe as a family. Do the schoolwork that you can do. If it’s too much during this time just tell your child’s teacher. Your health and safety are the number one priority.
Trent Bowers, Superintendent