An interview with Jen Cronan Flinn, Director of Design, Engineering & Educational Technology
WHAT WAS INCLUDED IN PHASE I DISTANCE LEARNING?
San Domenico had a progressive education technology program enacted prior to the recent shelter in place orders from the County of Marin and State of California, in the attempts to flatten the curve of the current COVID-19 pandemic. That allowed us to hit the ground running, offering families immediate access to our student-centered, teacher-present, robust academic Distance Learning Program on “Day 1” of remote learning. We have received inquiries from around the globe with questions about our successful program. Phase I entailed offering a structured academic schedule, with attendance taken each class period, and assignments and lessons conducted online with teachers present. While remaining responsive and fluid given the nature of this quickly-changing situation, there was immediate accountability and structure, and from what we hear, most of our families and students have been very grateful for the connection and interaction during these unprecedented times.
WHAT DOES PHASE II DISTANCE LEARNING LOOK LIKE?
Upon learning that we will now be continuing Distance Learning through at least May 5, 2020, we evolved our program based on feedback from teachers, students, parents, guardians, and staff. To create a more full and robust student experience, we have added regular classes in art, physical education, dance, music and “afterschool” activities. Instructional time includes synchronous and asynchronous learning with many live classes via Zoom. There are built-in Student Conference times throughout the week, and if a student feels they need extra support, has questions, or just needs a little extra facetime, there are opportunities for student check-ins (both one-on-one and small group) during students’ independent work times.
Lower School Teachers also will now hold a Closing Meeting every afternoon via Zoom and middle and upper school students will have all-school assemblies. Additionally, we have created a new schedule for Phase II, to allow for the inclusion of the additional courses added.
In addition, to best support boarding students who had to return to their home countries, we added additional resources and options for distance learning in different time zones.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR PHASE II DISTANCE LEARNING AT SD?
We are excited for this next phase and look forward to continuing our students’ learning, while allowing more opportunities to support their social emotional connections. To that end, we’ve also built into the schedule weekly school-wide meetings. This is similar to the weekly meetings that we had when we were all on campus. It is an opportunity for each school level to get together, connect, and play. We will have spirit days, assemblies, mindfulness practice, and even Spartan/Athenian competitions! GO PANTHERS!