Our Lessons Learned, Part I
I’ve asked some of our staff to reflect individually about what they’ve learned this year, and we’ll be sharing those thoughts with you this week and next week. One Schoolhouse has also been reflecting about how we’ve responded and grown this year in our Annual Report. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it as your year concludes as well. - Brad
I value how 2020 has invited me to practice radical imagination more courageously. More than daydreaming about what the future could be, radical imagination prompts us to uproot our antiquated beliefs and practices, and work daily to bring equitable futures into the present. This year, I have confronted bigotry, performative activism, and oppression in new and radical ways. I have unearthed a greater joy in navigating the contradictions, tensions, and conflicts inherent in fighting for change. And I feel inspired to reimagine a bold, more equitable “normal” for 2021 and beyond.
Tracie Yorke, Instructional Designer for Equity, Accessibility, and Innovative Inclusion
One of the most important aspects that I try to include in my life, both professionally and personally, is empathy. 2020 has been an exercise in learning how to find the capacity for additional empathy when I feel like I've reached my limit, or how to be supportive of a colleague who has overdrawn on their own supply.
I saw firsthand how hard this year was with teachers while facilitating the summer course, Designing for a Hybrid Environment. To ask the teachers to reenvision and reshape their practices was incredibly freeing for some, and for others, it was so daunting. When teachers grew frustrated (often right before a breakthrough), I did my best to put myself in their shoes; they were worried about family members and didn't know when they'd be able to see them again; they were stressed about their children's social and mental health being affected for many years to come due to the pandemic; they were at their wits' end because despite the best efforts of their schools, there were always more unanswered questions than not. This has been a year that has shaped my own practice as teacher and administrator and provided me growth in ways that I didn't know I needed.
Beta Eaton, Director of Student Support
Let’s be honest: not every student is thrilled with the idea of taking an online class. This is especially true when taking it comes at an unexpected time (like last spring). While the benefits of an online class outweigh the costs in most cases, sometimes the news that a course (or all of school for that matter) is only being offered online triggers what feels like a crisis. But it’s not. And everyone knows it now too.
Online learning should never create a crisis. Teachers and students are adaptable, even those who had no intention of ever going to school online. The very definition of learning -- the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills -- is what this profession is all about. This year, independent school teachers and students showed up, learned to do school in a range of modalities, and made learning happen online. And while there were plenty of crises in 2020, online learning wasn’t one of them.
Corinne Dedini, Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning
This year I learned that the adults in schools are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to support the children in their care--academically and emotionally. I have seen schools do massive systems overhauls that would normally be spread out over 3 years. Teachers have upended their instructional practices, searched their souls, and revised their entire curriculum while researching tirelessly to find ways to build more just and equitable classrooms.
Sarah Hanawald, Assistant Head for Professional Development and New Programming
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)