Sunset Park SchoolIssue 33Fall 2020
FROM THE PRINCIPAL’S DESK
It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of October.
Even with so many ups and downs in our experience of school this year so far, our children have proven to be resilient. Many teachers have shared with me the joy our classes have created together in Remote or “Zoom School” through their screens—they share, they laugh, and they learn together.
Just as much as our students and teachers are learning the ways of Remote School, so are our families at home. The other day a parent asked me, “How do I know how much to help when I’m at home with my child and they are learning with the teacher on the iPad?” It was a great question. I too, have had this question as a mom. When I see my children learning at home, I listen in and often want to push my daughters to say more, share more, and do more. But I also notice that when I try and nudge them, they quickly grow distracted by me and I realize that I’m in their space.
Thinking about this parent’s question, made me realize what I wanted to share with other parents. Just as parents separate from their children when we have school in person, parents have to learn to separate from their children when they “go” to school remotely.
Separating from their caregivers to go to school in person is a big developmental milestone. This is how they grow to be more independent. As the adults draw back, the children grow more autonomous. They will begin to own their process, curiosity, discovery and test out their thinking. They will productively struggle. In this struggle, they will learn. In the same way, in Remote School, when they are “in” school and left to navigate independently, they will learn to own their process in the new platform--without you.
In time, they will learn that it’s not about quickly getting the work done or finding the “right” answer, but it’s about how they achieved success—by making mistakes, feeling uncertain, not knowing everything at first, seeking for understanding, finding challenges, putting themselves out there, overcoming their fears, and taking intellectual risks.
Already, I’m seeing many children grow their independence on the screen. I hear students say, “That’s challenging!” Giving suggestions to each other. I see students utilizing the chat to ask questions. I see parents, guardians, and older siblings slowly receding. By allowing your children to fill their frames on screen, you are allowing them to gain in their agency. Of course, there will be technical glitches that need your adult hands, but you’d be surprised--sometimes they will figure it out themselves or their friends will help them.
So many students have surprised their adults--me, their teachers, and their parents. They have learned to take advantage of this new way of learning. Students who have always had trouble overcoming their shyness find the screen less intimidating. Students who needed breaks from social interactions at school, feel more at ease moving from synchronous to asynchronous, taking their much needed breaks in between. In some ways, children are also advancing in life skills—making their own meals, cleaning their learning spaces, and setting reminders to log into their live meetings. These different mediums may have their challenges, but our resilient children are showing us the ways they have harvested the advantages Remote School has to offer.
We have to take stock in how our children are developing. We have to begin measuring their independence and autonomy—these are big goals we want our children to achieve.
Here are some pictures that have been shared with me—please join me in marveling at the surprising power of Remote School!
Watching them gives me hope and makes me optimistic about our future. Seeing how they can grow—like a gentle flower that finds a crack in the sidewalk—makes me want to follow behind them to observe and see where they lead me.
As we head into November and December, let’s continue to foster our hope and remember our gratitude for what we have. Let us encourage one another, spread empathy, kindness and cherish the many people who have helped us build our own resiliency.