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Distance Learning: Creating a New Normal during COVID-19 Social Distancing

Amy Dempster


For over 50 years, Carroll School has been a place of hope and commitment to student progress. When faced with the COVID-19 outbreak and the move to social distancing, we've had to move quickly to create a new normal for our community (faculty, staff, students, families). There was no doubt that each decision carefully weighed and considered would focus on our core value to give each child exactly what they need.

Our work as a school has evolved tremendously in the past two weeks.

The Carroll School community has been nothing short of incredible, and it has been inspiring to see all of the collaboration, communication, and flexibility among our teachers, tutors, staff, and administration. As of today, we have held 1,064 Google meetings with 3,444 participants, and on our first day of distance learning, 247 students used Google Meet for their Morning Meetings and advisory blocks. Additionally our parents have been connecting through Facebook.

The following are just a few examples of the steps we’ve taken to continue to teach and support our community.

LOWER SCHOOL

  • Before closing two weeks ago, the tech and teaching teams worked quickly to ensure that each child had a Chromebook, as well as work packets, to take home with them.
  • Our academic leadership has been gathering Carroll specific resources to support teachers, who have been creating lessons and skill practices for students.
  • Teaching teams have continued their regular weekly meetings via Google Meet (multis, counselors, team leaders, grade level teams).
  • Our tech team is providing daily online training for teachers in Google Classroom, Google Meet, and Seesaw as school-to-home instructional tools.
  • Last week, we instituted remote learning, with teachers posting work assignments by 8:30am daily.
  • This week, homeroom teachers introduced Morning Meetings via Google Meet.
  • Our next phases will be rolling out Google Meet Language Arts (2x/week), Math (2x/week) and Focus Area classes (M-Th), in addition to daily Morning Meetings. Fridays will be dedicated to “whole child” and “dyslexic advantage” learning: multis, science and community building, “Today’s Hoorays”, and whole-school meets.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • Our academic leadership has been gathering Carroll specific resources to support teachers, who have been creating lessons and skill practices for students.
  • Our tech team is providing daily online training for teachers in Google Classroom, Google Meet, and Seesaw as school-to-home instructional tools.
  • Last week, we instituted remote learning, with teachers posting work assignments by 8:30am daily.
  • This week, homeroom teachers introduced Morning Meetings via Google Meet.
  • Students begin each day with a virtual Morning Meeting and advisory block at 8:45am. 
  • Next week, core classes (language, math, history, science) will be held via Google Meet.
  • Students will work with their tutors for online focus area sessions via Google Meet.
  • Students, teachers, and tutors will have individual check-ins via email and Google Meet.
  • Our multis team (art, music, drama, physical education, and Bounders) has a Google Classroom with activities for students to keep active and creative. 
  • Multis teachers are offering optional virtual drop-in sessions to support and highlight students’ dyslexic advantage. 
  • We are exploring ways to support children by forming clubs that bring those with common interests together.
  • Teaching teams are continuing their regular weekly meetings via Google Meet (multis, counselors, team leaders, grade level teams).

UPPER SCHOOL
In addition to much of what the lower and middle schools are doing to support students and teachers, at the Upper School:

  • Each class is posting daily assignments Monday through Friday by 8:30am on Google Classroom.
  • Each student is following an individualized weekly schedule.
  • Each student has met through Google Meet with their advisor to map out a daily work schedule that will allow them to successfully make progress through their academics.
  • Math, science, english, and history classes are meeting once or twice a week through Google Meet.
  • Orton-Gillingham tutorials are meeting four times a week on Google Meet.
  • Homerooms meet on Mondays and Fridays at 8:30am on Google Meet.
  • There are 7 advisory blocks set aside during the week. In these blocks of time, advisors schedule one-on-one meetings with students to keep connected, help make a plan, answer questions, or get caught up on work. 
  • Teachers are online and available for email questions everyday for “office hours” between 1:00 - 2:00pm. 
  • The Upper School counselor has been in touch with every student. He is conducting individual planning sessions with students and has office hours on Google Meet to help students with the unique challenges of distance learning.
  • Every Wednesday at 8:30am we are meeting as an Upper School community for a distance learning community challenge or activity.
  • Distance Learning



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