At the Guilderland Central School District, we fully understand that the transition to remote learning will be challenging for many students and families. Parents and guardians will need to think differently about how to support their children; how to create structures and routines that allow their children to be successful; and how to monitor and support their children’s learning. Some students will thrive with remote learning, while others may struggle.
The guidelines provided below are intended to help parents/guardians think about what they can do to help their children find success in a remote learning environment.
Establish routines and expectations
From the first day that your child(ren) begins remote learning, families need to establish routines and expectations. GCSD encourages families to set regular hours for their children’s schoolwork.
- Begin studies shortly before the first scheduled class of each day.
- Keep normal bedtime routines for younger children and expect the same from your MS- and HS-aged students, too.
- Make sure your children move regularly and take periodic breaks as they study.
Define the physical space for your child’s study
Your child may have a regular place for doing homework under normal circumstances, but this space may or may not be suitable for an extended space/location where their children will learn most of the time.
This space should be:
- A public/family space, not in a child’s bedroom.
- A place that can be quiet at times and have a strong wireless internet signal, if possible.
- A space where parents/guardians are present and monitoring their children’s learning.
Monitor communications from your children’s teachers
Teachers will communicate with parents/guardians through Google Classroom/Seesaw and/or email as necessary. The frequency and detail of these communications will be determined by your children’s ages, maturity, and their degree of independence. GCSD encourages parents/guardians to contact their children’s teachers as needed. However, we ask parents/guardians to remember that teachers will be communicating with dozens of other families and that communications should be essential and succinct. We will attempt to respond as soon as possible, but please allow for a reasonable amount of time for a response during the regular school week.
Begin and end each day with a check-in
Parents/Guardians are encouraged to start and finish each day with a simple check-in:
- In the morning, ask what is your child learning today?
- What are their learning targets or goals?
- How will they spend their time?
- What resources do they require?
- What support do they need?
This brief grounding conversation matters. It allows children to process the instructions they’ve received from their teachers. It helps them organize themselves and set priorities. Older students may not want to have these check-ins with parents/guardians (that’s normal!), but they should nevertheless. Families should establish these check-ins as regular parts of each day. Not all students thrive in a remote learning environment; some struggle with too much independence or lack of structure. These check-in routines need to be established early, before students fall behind or begin to struggle.
Take an active role in helping your children process and own their learning
In the course of a regular school day at GCSD, your child engages with other students or adults dozens if not hundreds of times. These social interactions and opportunities for collaboration include turning to a peer to exchange a thought or idea, participating in small or large group discussions, asking questions for clarification, collaborating on group projects, and countless other moments. While some of these social interactions will be re-created on virtual platforms, others will not.
Human beings learn best when they have opportunities to process their learning with others. Beyond the check-ins recommended at the start and end of each day, families should regularly circle back and engage with their children about what they’re learning. However, it’s important that your child owns their work; don’t complete assignments for them, even when they are struggling. Parents should be checking their child’s grades weekly, which can be done via eSchoolData.
Establish times for quiet and reflection
A challenge for families with multiple children will be how to manage all of their children’s needs, especially when those children are different ages and have different needs. There may be times when siblings need to work in different rooms to avoid distractions. Parents/Guardians may even experiment with noise-canceling headphones to block out distractions
Encourage physical activity and/or exercise
Make sure your children remember to move and exercise. This is vitally important to their health, wellbeing, and to their learning. GCSD’s physical education teachers will recommend activities or exercises, but it is important for parents/guardians to model and encourage exercise!
Remain mindful of your child’s stress or worry
It is imperative for parents/guardians to help their children manage the worry, anxiety, and range of emotions they may experience. Difficult though it may be, do your best not to transfer your stress or worry to your children. They will be out of sorts, whether they admit it or not, and need as much normal routine as parents/guardians can provide. Parents can also reach out to their child’s classroom teacher, school counselor, or principal, if additional support or resources are needed.
Monitor how much time your child is spending online
GCSD does not want its students staring at computer screens for an extraordinary amount of time each day. Teachers have established timeframes for each class/subject for each day. Please communicate with your teacher if your child is struggling with the allotted time frame.
- Establish daily routines for engaging in learning experiences.
- Identify a comfortable, quiet space in your home where you can work effectively and successfully.
- Regularly monitor your email to check for announcements and feedback from your teachers.
- Complete assignments with integrity and academic honesty, doing your best work.
- Meet timelines, commitments, and due dates.
- Communicate proactively with your teachers if you cannot meet deadlines or require additional support.
- Collaborate and support your GCSD peers in their learning, when appropriate.
- Proactively seek out and communicate with other adults at GCSD as different needs arise (e.g, classroom teacher, principal, counselor).
- Charge your Chromebook every night and bring it to school everyday when you will be in-person.
All students who are learning remotely will participate in virtual classes or meetings via Google Meets or other district-approved video conferencing tools. Participating in video conferences is a great way to stay connected with teachers and classmates, but it is important for you to understand and follow these expectations which will ensure that ALL students are able to fully engage and participate in these virtual classes.
- Remember that you are on camera and live. Your teacher and fellow students can see what you are wearing and your facial expression. Find a quiet place in your house and dress appropriately as you would for an in-person class.
- Mute your microphone (mic): Keep your mic on mute until the teacher calls on you and it’s your turn to speak. This will reduce background noise.
- You are not anonymous. Be mindful of your expressions, speaking tones, and what you say. Your voice and video are viewed by everyone participating in the conference. Other people in your house can hear what you and others in the video conference are saying.
- Speak up! Physically raise your hand or use the Raise-Your-Hand feature and unmute your mic when the teacher calls on you and it’s your turn to speak. Use school appropriate language as the meeting may be recorded.
- Do not use the Chat feature with your class unless the teacher states it is okay to do so. When using the chat room, write using school appropriate language. Remember that the class meeting is public and a record of the chat is retained.
- Be on time. Classes are scheduled just as they are during regular school days. Teachers will expect you to arrive on time and remain present for the duration of the class. Attendance will be taken.
- Keep your camera on and be seen. Unless otherwise permitted by your teacher remain visible by keeping your camera on.
- Think before you speak. Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are clear and appropriate to the conversation. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in your actual classroom.
- Be kind and considerate. Follow the same classroom rules that you would follow in real life. Listen to the teacher. Take turns to speak. Respect others.
- Think before you type. If your teacher enables the Chat feature you may be able to participate by typing into a chat box. Choose your words carefully. Use appropriate spelling and grammar. Stay on topic. Don’t use sarcasm or humor that could be misunderstood. Don’t type in all caps.