Over the last year, when people have asked me, “How are the ‘kids’?” my heart has warmed. For the first time ever, they were all thriving. They were all happy. Then, 2020 rolled around. We were met with tragedy. Then our nation was met with something unknown to all of us. In a few days, Coronavirus morphed from something half a world away and took over our daily lives. We were not really prepared.
Digital, or distance learning, was never something I had considered for my two students who have found a home at Brookwood Christian Language School. It had been a “happy place” for my eldest but my younger two students have been happy or successful but not both and at the same time. There has always been a struggle somewhere. What would this mean for them?
I am watching friends with students in a number of settings really suffer with the “new normal” but while my two would much rather be physically at school, they are still learning. They are still ENGAGED in learning and they are as happy as it is possible to be at this time. I credit their teachers and the staff at Brookwood.
Please let me walk you through the day of a lower building student and an upper building student who are both new to Brookwood this school year.
My middle child is in the upper building. He is in the 10th grade. He has Biology, Algebra, Latin, Writing, British Literature, and U.S. History. He has a dashboard for each of his classes. His teachers all have their classes set up to meet the needs of the particular section each student is in. I can only attest to my son’s classes but they use Google Classroom and Google Meetings for “live lessons” at regularly scheduled times. It means that even in this flexible and fluid time he still has a routine. This is great for him because he is able to keep on target and up to date.
He gets a daily status report and so do I. He gets real feedback via a live lesson or in an email depending on the class. Especially for a writing class that uses peer review and a Latin class, the ability to have spoken real time communication is key. The opportunity to discuss material in literature is also very important. Each student, guided by the teacher, brings valuable insight and personal experience and ideas to the discussion. He is still drawing and doing hands on activities for Biology. He is still getting instant feedback in mathematics. He is still going on virtual field trips that so many of us have now experienced.
Even though this is not the sophomore year he or I had anticipated, his world is still being enriched. He is growing and I would say meeting the situation better prepared because of the way the teachers have worked to structure this new journey to resemble the classroom as closely as possible. That is not to say that they are not flexible. We all know now how challenging “work at home” can be especially when everyone is home and trying to “work” at the same time. Although we are eager for the return to the physical classroom, this time will not have been wasted.
My youngest child is in the lower building. She is in the 6th grade and loves her school. She loves the closeness of the community of the lower building and has never been as comfortable in school as she is now. She has also never worked as hard. She likes the idea of school and she has always done the work but now she is engaged. The distance learning has not dampened her enthusiasm. The teachers are in regular communication. They send emails, make videos that are class specific, set up her dashboard in her learning system, add videos to supplement and are flexible in the way material is completed. She gets up and without being prompted is ready to learn. She still completes all of her assignments. She may do two assignments one day for a particular class and no assignments for that same class the next day but she is in charge of what she does and when as long as she gets it done. She is GROWING. I was so concerned she would not in this time.
I have to admit, based on our experience pre Covid-19, I anticipated a good system would be in place in short order. What I never anticipated though was that she would have grown so much, in ways that I had not seen, in the classroom and that she would have become self-motivated. This is “hard” even if it is a “hardship”. She is still creating art. Some days she asks to do a different activity even though she will come back and do what has been assigned. Her teacher always embraces her creativity. Her math teacher gently redirects her efforts because she (my daughter) wants to do it by herself. She does not want me to look it over before it is sent because I do not look it over while she is in the classroom. She is writing, in cursive, happily and daily. She has always been writing resistant. She is engaged. Her Wilson Reading teacher has worked tirelessly to make something that should be in person successful. I am so proud of ALL of them.
We were not prepared for this (hopefully very temporary) “new normal” but through the diligence and grace of a team truly committed to the education of their students, the growth will be so much greater than the expected milestones this year. For this, and everything else, we are truly grateful for Brookwood. Even more, we are looking forward to the 2020-2021 school year!Brookwood Mom, K.F.
Thank you so much for your kind words! It means so much to our staff who have worked so hard to make the unexpected a little more bearable. 🙂