We are doing everything we possibly can to create a safe environment for in-person learning so that we can open in just a few weeks with students on campus and stay open for the full school year (see our blog here). And we just cannot compete with a worldwide pandemic in terms of controlling every aspect of how the school year will go, so we also have developed a Plan B, should we have to move to a remote learning environment.
As a private school, we are not beholden to the decisions of any of the districts, and we can make decisions for our students related to when and for how long we move into remote learning. We are closely monitoring the information published by the Center for Disease Control and the Colorado Department of Education (which largely issues guidance that we can choose to follow or not based on what is best for our community) as well mandates from the Governor and Mayor (which we have to follow or we would be breaking the law). And while there is much that is out of our (or anyone’s) control, we can control the elements and the focus of our remote, and for us, it’s very important that a remote learning program reflect what makes Einstein Academy special.
Students are at the center
Our educational philosophy is very learner-centered, allowing for the students to make choices about how and what they learn and engaging them in the material beyond the surface, and that is the case for our remote learning program also. We begin the year by developing personalized learning profiles with each of our students so that we are aware of strengths and areas of growth in a variety of fields, and that level of personalization and differentiation continues even if we have to be at home. We believe in getting to know our students as individuals and establishing individual relationships with those students, which allows for this approach to work. Putting students at the center is at the core of all that we do, no matter where we are.
Social emotional learning is important also
While academic learning and growth is important, who children are and how they interact with themselves and the world around them is just as important, and that is the case for our remote learning program also. Especially during the time of a worldwide pandemic, students need to feel safe, and it is the job of the school to provide that safe, familiar, comfortable environment for students to grapple with their feelings. Due to our low student to teacher ratio, we are able to provide one on one support for students and plan for small group gatherings to add an additional layer of support in a way that is truly unique to Einstein Academy.
Students are moving
In a classroom at Einstein Academy, one would see students sitting in ball chairs and cushions or students standing at a standing desk or students walking around from class to class, and that is the case for our remote learning program also. We believe in the power and value of technology, and we believe in being outside and building with our hands and taking a walk and integrating an element of play into the leaning. Students need to be up and moving. They need to be outside. They need to be discovering how the world works for themselves, and our job during a remote learning situation is to facilitate that from afar, getting them away from their screens and into the world of discovery.
Parents are parents
It is an honor for us that parents entrust us with the education of their children. That is a role we take very seriously, and that is the case for our remote learning program also. If parents wanted to homeschool their children, then they would choose to homeschool their children instead of enrolling them in our school. While we very much support and encourage involvement of parents, we do not expect them to be the primary educators, even if they are the ones at home with the children. We work to create independent learners who can navigate any specific learning platform, and we ensure that the learning is developmentally appropriate so that students can engage in our remote learning program without significant support from their parents, letting parents maintain their role as parents (which is hard enough).
Learning is fun
We believe learning should be joyful, and school can be a place students (and teachers) look forward to coming to each day, and that is the case for our remote learning program also. While it’s not quite the same to be at home instead of with your friends, remote learning can still engage students in learning that matters and that is relevant. We can still engage in solving real-world problems. We can still frame the material in a way that connects with students in a relevant way. Yes, making learning fun while kids are forced to stay at home offers a unique set of challenges, but our students are our top priority, and we are excited to continue our connections with them and help them find joy in their learning.
There is so much unknown about this coming year, but one piece is known: Einstein Academy has our students and families covered when it comes to learning. We are deeply committed to providing the best possible learning environment for students, even if that environment is virtual.