It seems that no one remembered to bring their crystal ball to 2020.
The first half of this year has proven to defy all efforts to make solid future predictions. Nowhere was this more clear than in the ending of the school year all across the country. In my 20+ years working in education, I do not remember a more massive, system-wide shift in how schools function.
Heading into the 2020-2021 school year, we will face some continued challenges, and likely some new challenges. What is clear is that our students deserve a consistent, quality education regardless of the learning challenges we may face.
I am proud of how well the students and staff of Quest Forward Academy Omaha were able to transition to a remote learning model. This successful transition was possible because of the learning processes we already had in place. Our students all had devices that allowed them to access curriculum and resources. Content was already designed in a way that it could be accessed online. Students were already used to utilizing electronic collaborative tools. Teaching staff was already functioning in a mentoring/guiding capacity that lent itself well to individualizing instruction.
As we look ahead to this new school year, Quest Forward Academy is building upon the learning processes that helped us finish out the 2019-2020 school year so well. Existing and new challenges required us to carefully craft a plan that will provide success this fall and beyond.
Our plan is called “Seamless Learning.” We use this term because our plan allows for learning to continue for students seamlessly whether we are physically at a school building or engaging in remote learning. Beyond ensuring health and safety this fall, an additional benefit of Seamless Learning is that students will be able to continue learning whenever they might not be able to come into school: for health reasons, inclement weather, or other situations that could interrupt school functions. We are ready for just about anything.
Some of the key pieces of our Seamless Learning plan include the following:
- Flexible Use of Our Building: We plan to work in our building as much as possible, but all classes will run in the classroom and on Zoom simultaneously, so every student will be able to connect to their regular class regardless of where they are. We will follow health officials’ guidelines for safe in-person gathering, including increased sanitation of surfaces, required wearing of masks by all, social distancing in the building, and more.
- Seamless Technology: To make this possible, we are equipping each classroom with the necessary TV and cameras to enable simultaneous, seamless class activity between the classroom and the remote participants. We will also ensure every student has the equipment and network connections they need at home to fully participate.
- As-Needed Schedule Rotations: As the situation dictates, we have a plan to implement building use at reduced capacity. Students will get equal time in-person. Set groups of students will rotate in and out of the building each week. For example, if we run at half capacity, half of the students will be in the building one week, and will work from home (or a workspace) the next week. But since everyone will participate in the same sessions, their progress and work will flow seamlessly, regardless of their location.
- Full Support, Full Engagement: Regardless of a student’s location, our support and our expectations for them will be the same. Mentors will work with the whole student group as they normally would.
August 17 is our start date for this coming school year. We continue to plan for two days of new student orientation on August 13 and 14. We can’t wait to welcome our new class. Further details will be provided soon. We are excited to look ahead to the new school year!
Learn more about Seamless Learning from Opportunity Education’s Manuel Mattke.