Happy Saturday afternoon, I hope you’re doing well, staying safe, and having a good weekend. Despite the unsettling times we are facing, I hope you have been able to enjoy some rest and relaxation this spring break. Certainly, this has been a time of considerable disruption and unease as we all work through the newfound challenges of social distancing and we anticipate the transitions and changes ahead. In addition to managing our personal lives with a new set of rhythms and patterns, we are also filled with questions and uncertainty as we imagine the shifts in our daily lives as school, albeit remote school, resumes next week!
Of course, it is important to always remember that we are in this together. This morning Nancy and I were walking into the grocery store and we ran into a member of the junior class, who immediately stopped to greet us with enthusiastic elbow bumps. When I asked him how he felt about the transition ahead and the prospect of distance-learning, he eagerly responded by saying, “I’m excited!” He then told us that his parents were moving one of his two older brothers, both Marksmen, home from college this weekend. And again, I was reminded of the many varied challenges and new realities that every family is navigating. It also reminded me how lucky we are to have each other, and to have so many amazing boys in our community, each one of whom will play an important role in making the balance of this school year not just successful, but one that will change their lives, and ours, for the better.
Let me share a few thoughts with you as we prepare for the transition to remote learning next week. It’s incredibly important that we all agree that the safety, health, and well-being of faculty, staff, and all our students are our foremost priorities. While our commitment to continued learning and delivery of content remains, we must also recognize the new realities that will challenge us and our boys in ways that were previously unimaginable. It will be vitally important for us to constantly, willingly, and repeatedly extend grace to one another, to all of our students, and to families throughout our community. We are fortunate to be part of a special extended community, and we are at our best as we care for and support one another in good and bad times. We all must hold dear and vigorously protect the fundamental values that bind us together.
As we go forward, here are four principles to keep in mind.
First, set realistic expectations for yourself and the boys.
Second, remember, classroom instruction will be asynchronous.
Third, relationships are at the center of everything we do.
Fourth, stay focused on the health & well-being of the boys and each other.
As we near the end of spring break and begin the transition to remote learning, keep in mind that uncertainty about what’s ahead will likely reach a fevered pitch in the coming days. The boys, along with all of us, are coming to grips with the reality that we will not be on campus together for some time, and we don’t yet fully understand how distance learning will work and feel. One of the most important things we can do is to provide positive reassurance that we will get through this together, and to set some basic and realistic expectations that everyone will understand. As an example, just letting the boys know that assignments will be posted each day by 11am on Blackbaud and that they should plan to check in by that time is a very good first step. Giving them basic guidance about the first day or two will help us reach day three, four, and five.
It will also be important to try not to accomplish too much too quickly. Like in any new situation, we need to crawl before we walk, walk before we run, and run before we sprint. We’re all accustomed to moving quickly and getting things done, but it’s important to recognize that the landscape has shifted dramatically, and we need to be prepared to adjust our expectations accordingly. We all know this intuitively, but it will be a balancing act as we learn together.
We have all witnessed the seismic shifts that are happening around us with many new realities that none of us could have ever imagined. As we go forward with the boys, let us do so thoughtfully, deliberately, and intentionally, as we always do. You are all gifted educators, and more important you are trusted advisors, coaches, mentors, and friends. Together, we will navigate uncharted and, perhaps, even choppy waters ahead. Tending to the needs of our students, one boy at a time, will ultimately make all the difference.
Also, just to confirm, students are not allowed on campus. Faculty and staff are discouraged from coming to campus and encouraged to work remotely. If you choose to come to campus, please notify your department chair in advance, keep in mind the guidelines from health officials, and remember that children are not allowed. You also will be hearing from Kurt Tholking soon about the Remote Learning Team and the resources that they can provide for teachers. The most recently updated version of theRemote Learning Plan is attached for your review.
Thank you for your unwavering commitment as we work together to support every boy in our charge. And, as always, please reach out to department chairs, division heads, John, and me in the coming days and weeks with questions, suggestions, and stories.
And just remember, one step at a time!!!
With profound gratitude and admiration,