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Conferences will be held by ZOOM the first week in June

Plans are being made for our annual end-of-year Student Led conferences to be held as usual but via Zoom. Students will begin preparing for the conferences when we return from Memorial Day weekend break. (*May 22 – 25).

Look for an email with a link to our conference schedule. Once you register you will receive a link to meet teachers in the zoom room. Your student can participate via a different zoom window, or in the same room with you sharing one zoom window, it is up to you!

We are looking forward to “seeing” everyone soon and finishing up a strange, but rewarding school year.

May 4th – ART MEETING WITH DIANNE

Join us in Eilleens Zoom Room Monday at 12:30 to meet with Dianne and discuss this week’s ART OFFERINGS. She will offer classes during the week that are responsive to student interest. COME MONDAY at 12:30 and chat with us.

Be prepared to let Dianne know what Art Supplies you have available at home. See you there!

Welcome back from spring break

Greetings Birch Families ~ 

Welcome back to school!

We are ready to get back to Birch and we hope you are too!

SCHEDULES FOR THE WEEK ARE POSTED

At our communication dashboard (dash.thebirchschool.org) you will find the schedule for the week. We have listened to your feedback and made adjustments to the work and schedule and that we hope will benefit everyone. You will see on the schedule that we have marked “recommended” classes in white and “optional” classes in blue. As always, you as parent should be the judge as to how much time your student is spending on schoolwork and if you have questions or concerns please reach out to us.  Our goal is for the program to be “just right” for each family and that will require communication and collaboration.  

WEEKLY WORK SCHEDULES ARE ADDED

In response to feedback we have added a weekly work schedule for groups 3 and 4. (group 1/2 will be added shortly) 

The work schedule has a list of the assignments for each day for each subject. It can be accessed from the dashboard.

Dash.thebirchschool.org

ADJUSTING TO NEW NORMAL – THREE-WEEK CYCLES

Since no one is sure how long our quarantine will last it is hard to plan ahead. Our team has decided to plan in three-week long cycles. The first cycle begins this week and runs through May 1st. The next cycle runs from May 4 – May 21, which is the start to Memorial Day weekend.  

The schedule that is posted this week will be the same for each of the weeks until May 1st. (of course we will add Monday classes in the upcoming two weeks).

PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES BY REQUEST

We invite any parent who is interested in a parent/teacher conference to reach out via email to Eilleen (load) and let us know. We will schedule a zoom meeting at your convenience.

VIRTUAL PIANO LESSONS AVAILABLE

Joann Digulio is available for Zoom piano lessons if interested. Reach out to us and we will connect you if you are interested. Birch has 2 portable electric keyboards that are available to borrow during school closure if you need an instrument to have at home for practice.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORT

We truly appreciate our Birch families and their flexibility and positive attitudes during this time. Thank you for your feedback, support, and encouragement.  As always please reach out with concerns, issues or feedback.  

Kate and The Birch School Team

Parent News March 30th Virtual School Week 3

Dear Birch Families: 

We are entering our third week of distance learning. Our students have been doing their best to adapt, and parents are also facing their own hurdles in the process.  Some things have been successful and others continue to need improvement.  

Our focus these weeks has been on offering familiarity and continuity for students facing a new daily routine. We feel that our daily community meetings and face-to-face classes have provided that for students. It is obvious when we get together in Zoom meetings that students appreciate maintaining their connections with the Birch community.  As many things are lately, this is a works in progress.  We are seeing that some things are working and others need to be altered.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN FINDING:

We have been careful not to introduce too many new things at the same time. We have been working with material that should be easy for students to grasp so as not to add to frustrations. We have prioritized tools that students are already familiar with and that we have used in school regularly. We are lucky because many of the systems we use translate easily to a distance-learning format.

That being said, we also experienced frustration with technology and processes.  Many students need reminders of their login information and passwords. Some needed help getting oriented to the tech tools. New schedules are difficult to adapt to.  We struggled with methods of assigning work that makes it easy for students to follow.  We have solved some of those problems, and we are still working on fixing some problems.  

We are seeing that students are managing the new normal in different ways, some more successfully than others. Sometimes our Zoom classes are more social meetings than classes, with students just wanting to connect with other students. And we teachers also miss being with them in person, where we can gently steer, motivate, and mentor students. The physical distance makes that much more difficult.  We are working on developing ways to bridge that gap.  

FAMILY NEEDS ARE DIFFERENT REQUIRING DIFFERENT FOCUSES

In some families students are working independently.  Parents are working from home or away from home, or caring for other siblings. In that case we want to offer easy to follow directions, a lot of teacher support, and a relatively robust schedule that keeps them engaged.

Other families are spending time together, and want the independence of completing work when it’s right for everyone. Some students have taken advantage of the ability to sleep later, and their day begins at different time. Others rise early, and like to get their work done early so the day is open.  Some families want a minimal schedule and other want a full schedule. 

Our goal is for the program we offer to be “just right” for each family. To do that we are offering schedule suggestions, as well as “recommended work” and “optional work”.  In all cases it is up to you as a family to decide what is right for your student.  If you are concerned, want suggestions or have questions please reach out to us so we can all be on the same page.  We don’t expect the same thing for each student, we can be very flexible and accommodate all needs.  

ZOOM SESSIONS ARE SHORTENED – OFFICE HOURS FOR TEACHERS

This week we will focus on meeting with students for about 15 minutes at the start of the class period to explain the activities and take questions. Then we will ask students to sign off and do the work on their own. We have also scheduled open OFFICE HOURS where students can drop in to teacher’s Zoom Rooms for individual assistance and support. We encourage all students to take advantage of this time to get their needs met. In this format it is important that students self-advocate and reach out to us when they are unsure, need support or want to check-in.

MAILED PAPER PACKETS FOR SOME STUDENTS 

Some students were mailed paper packets of material.  (Don’t panic, it wasn’t sent to all)  This work will be gone over during the Zoom Sessions with teachers, and then assignments will be given from there.  YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING WITH THE MATERIAL UNTIL TEACHERS DISCUSS WITH STUDENTS DURING THE WEEK.  Please remind students to have the material available nearby when the meet in the zoom classroom this week.  

SCHEDULES FOR THE WEEK ARE POSTED – WITH RECOMMENDED and OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES

We recognize that each household is managing a variety of different (and new) challenges during this time. In order to assist planning and coordination with this we have posted schedules for each group for the whole week. The schedule is color-coded.   The blocks that you see that are BLUE are OPTIONAL.   The blocks that you see in WHITE are RECOMMENDED.   In general we are offering facilitated learning in the morning, with additional support and options in the afternoon.  As we mentioned before, it is up to each family to decide how they want to interact with what is being offered.

The website at www.dash.thebirchschool.org is the central communication location.  All announcements, schedules and news will be posted there. 

Please let us know what questions, concerns, complaints, you are have so we can be responsive.  Thanks for your understanding, patience, and support as we all navigate this together.

Kate and The Birch School Team