March 30, 2020
Hello, Friend of JP!
Well, together, we’ve made it through two weeks. Congratulations to us all!
The most common and salient remark I’ve heard from everyone—kids, their parents, and our staff members—is how much each person misses one another, and JP. I certainly feel that way!
Our successes have been many. Thank you to our staff members—educators, bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, building monitor, tech coordinator—for delivering relevant and meaningful instruction to our pupils; for distributing two weeks, and then three weeks more, of meals to over 500 students; for providing responsive attention to telephone calls; for sanitizing our building over and over to ensure that it’s safe for teachers, aides, and others to come for resources and for parents to come for iPads and laptops to lend to youngsters who didn’t have access to devices at home; for communication one-on-one with each student or his or her parent almost daily; and for good-naturedly solving tech problems that our colleagues, our children, the latters’ parents, and our principal (!) encountered.
Thank you to you, our children’s parents. You’ve dropped off or picked up assignments or resources for your own youngsters and those of neighbors, guided your sons and daughters as they’ve begun to master remote-learning approaches, sent kind and thoughtful notes to our teachers, and been patient, flexible, understanding, and of good humor in the face of unprecedented challenges. We’ve so appreciated how this crisis has enhanced our partnerships with you and yours with us.
And thank you to our boys and girls, your boys and girls. Wow! Have they arisen to the occasion! They’ve met difficulties with effort, barriers with resourcefulness, and expressed their love and concern for their classmates, friends, and teachers. Some of our fifth graders have even become part of the solution, making videos of themselves doing read-alouds that we’ve posted on Ms. Henderson’s library webpage for our youngest learners to enjoy. Bravo!
While being thankful for and celebrating these successes, we also discovered a new reality: Whereas, in the days before we closed our schools, we planned for a two-week hiatus, we now understand that we have to consider educating our boys and girls remotely as a long-term enterprise.
Here’s a scenario:
A third-grade pupil is trying to learn a day’s lesson that she’s sought to access through a U.R.L. that her teacher provided after first having offered an instructional presentation via Zoom (or Google Meet or Class Dojo); the youngster is having trouble with the link. Meanwhile, her toddler brother is running around the room, squealing joyfully, as he plays with his toys. At the same time, the girl’s mother is glued to her own computer screen, unable to assist her daughter, because the mom has to do her own job from home. The mom figures that, to support her daughter, she’ll e-mail the teacher later that afternoon or evening to get the help that her third grader needs.
According to the parents of many of our children, the answer is yes. And we agree, for that scenario is similarly familiar to our teachers, for many of them are actually the mother in our scenario. The work that our scenario mom is doing from home is instructing our pupils in her JP class!
That’s by way of saying that we’re all in this together. So, as time accrues to our remote-learning enterprise, we look forward to some things falling into place and becoming easier: Heck, many folks know how lacking I am in computer skills, and even I’ve now become a prolific Zoom aficionado.
But we recognize, too, that some things may become more challenging: Our pupils may confront specific learning obstacles that, with a skilled teacher nearby, they’d more easily master. (Be assured that, after we return, we’ll assess our youngsters’ learning and ensure we reteach what they’ve missed.) Grown-ups may become impatient with the demands that schooling at home places on their own ability to meet their career responsibilities. (Stop; breathe in deeply; let the air out slowly. Or just walk away. Don’t allow your frustration to impinge on your relationships with the ones whom you love most or with those reaching through cyberspace to support your kids.)
With appreciation for our children, their parents, and our staff members, I wish you success in Week 3. And, after this week, we’ll welcome our well-deserved spring break.
Please take the time during our week off (Mon.-Fri., Apr. 6th-10th) to build positive memories with your family. And consider this thought that a college student, a senior at my alma mater, Cornell University, tweeted: “You have the chance to save the world by sitting at home with a book. This chance will not come again. Don’t mess it up.”
March 23, 2020
Hello, Friend of JP!
Well, we’re into Week 2 of our new normal. I hope you and those whom you love are well.
JP’s staff members and I have remained in close touch, so we’re aware of the many successes we’ve had with remote learning. We’re also aware that we (our educators), our pupils, and the latters’ parents have faced challenges.
There are lots of logistics over which we have little control, such as families’ needs for different schedules to accommodate their individual lifestyles and responsibilities: parents committed to career requirements as they work from home; parents with career responsibilities who are unable to work from home; parents who have to attend to toddlers while simultaneously trying to supervise their school-aged students’ screen activities; families with multiple children sharing devices; families without technological know-how; and so forth. We recognize these difficulties, which, in some cases, have limited some teachers’ ability to extend their remote instruction via computers, including their attempts to promote whole-class meetings via a range of platforms.
Our district’s technology department has done an outstanding job in getting devices into the homes of our pupils who didn’t have them. By later this week, we expect to have accomplished this daunting goal.
For parents who seek additional help with Google platforms, we’ve been fortunate to have had JP parent and Google executive Leslie Fabello (mother of JP kids in grs. PK, 1, and 2) volunteer to offer assistance.
First, she’s provided us with this link, https://teachfromhome.google/intl/en/, for a site that provides lots of tutorials for users. Many of our teachers are using this as one of the ways they’ve sought to instruct our pupils and communicate with families.
Secondly, she’s created this e-mail account, <email@example.com>, for parents (and teachers!) to reach out to her with specific questions about how to navigate the platform.
Thirdly, she’s created this Google Document, https://bit.ly/johnsonparkwfh, wherein she’ll post the questions people have posed and offer her responses, either as “General Tips” or as support for “Google Meet Class Gatherings,” so that we can facilitate parents knowing how to connect their children to teachers’ meetings with their classes (for those teachers who use Google).
You don’t have to use this resource. We thought, though, that it might be helpful to some of our audience. Thank you, Leslie, for supporting JP as you balance working from home and being a mom supporting three children who are learning remotely.
Drop-Off & Pick-Up
JP will be open on Thu., Mar. 26th, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon so parents can drop off any materials they have for their children’s teachers and pick-up additional materials they’ll need for remote learning for the next several weeks.
We’ll have grade-level tables on the street in front of JP. Each grade-level table will have individual teachers’ bins on it. We’ll have resanitized all our tables and all our bins. Parents can do curbside drop-offs and pick-ups so they won’t have to come into JP.
After Thursday, it’s unlikely that we’ll re-open JP for several weeks. I know Princeton’s (outstanding) health officer, Jeff Grosser, is discussing with our schools’ (outstanding) superintendent, Steve Cochrane, the likelihood that we’ll have to keep our buildings closed at least through Fri., Apr. 17th.
Please know that, even with JP closed, you’ll still be able to reach our staff members and me by e-mail and any other means you’ve already been using. As time passes, our teachers may be able to enhance their communication with our pupils, perhaps through platforms that allow classes or groups within classes to meet virtually.
Please continue to support our youngsters, our staff members, and one another. Remember: flexibility, patience, good humor, and goodwill. We’re all doing out best, as we know you are.
- Johnson Park News