Our Approach to Online Learning

Our+Approach+to+Online+Learning

Stephanie Najar

We are constantly looking at our online learning model and examining its effectiveness with our students.  We recognize that not all students will be successful with the online learning but we are not going to stop trying.  To address loss of learning and widening of achievement gaps, we are considering the following five key steps to assure we are prepared to assess and address these gaps and subsequent impacts on student learning.

Step One is to address our students social and emotional wellbeing.

Whether in school classrooms or at home, students need to feel emotionally safe, valued and cared for.  “Although eager to determine loss of learning, schools must first prioritize the measurement of school climate, leveraging social and emotional learning to build important foundations for learning.”

With social and emotional learning first, we are mandating for our teachers to include Social Emotional Learning in everyday online lessons.  We ask our teachers to focus their efforts on strengthening relationships with every student and building community within the classroom through trauma-informed practices and re-engagement strategies.

Step Two is to develop plans that include comprehensive approaches to formative assessments

“With deep levels of attention focused on identifying the social and emotional needs of students as the foundation for learning, plans that include comprehensive approaches to formative assessments, which help teachers understand how well their students are learning on an ongoing basis, will be necessary to guide instructional decisions and resource allocations.”

Our focus is on the use of assessments that already exist and are aligned with our curriculum maps and use the adopted instructional materials and text to provide stability for students and staff, and to help determine learning gaps in content knowledge and skill.

The CDE Guidance on Diagnostic and Formative Assessments recommends, “teachers can use tools such as rubrics to clarify expectations and to provide feedback; journals, quick writes and discussions to see what students are thinking; pre-tests and exit tickets to see where they are at the beginning and end of class; strategic questioning and performance tasks during the lesson; observations of students working in small groups; student work samples and a variety of others.”

“Further, the value of teacher knowledge should not be underestimated. It is essential that school leaders provide teachers with opportunities to collaborate and discuss concepts not taught or reinforced during the pandemic.”  We accomplish this with at least weekly collaboration with our teachers and structured PD that involves departments and grade level teachers coming together and discussing what is working and what is not working in our online classrooms.

Step Three is to address individual student skills and re-teach concepts when we find gaps in student learning.

We have our focus on improving the quality of core instruction in different learning scenarios.  We give our teachers room to make decisions based on their student’s needs.  While our focus in on good first teaching, we recognize that not all students can or will be successful with the first teaching and we have ongoing tutoring and credit recovery plans in place for our students. 

Step Four is to invest in high-quality professional learning and instructional materials

“ Investing in high-quality professional learning and instructional materials to support teachers and paraeducators is key to the success of students now and  when they return to on campus learning.”

We are continuing to spend time and funding to support more student success and engagement through instructional materials that our students and teachers need to be more effective in the online environment.  Our school plans are currently being revised, and it will be difficult to predict what will happen in the coming months.   We feel it’s important to stay in touch with our students, teachers, parents and community through a variety of ways to communicate our goals for student achievement.

All of our efforts are made to clearly articulate plans to protect the wellbeing and safety of students and staff, in conjunction with addressing the social, emotional and academic needs of the children. “Open and transparent communication efforts show empathy, build trust, instill and maintain confidence to demonstrate a long-term view that schools are prepared to address and assess the needs of students despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Step five is to celebrate our success and make strategic changes as needed to support our students learning.

More efforts are being seen in our classrooms and through our online formations to recognize student success and celebrate student’s achievement.  

Our talented teachers are sharing best practices with each other and this supports a unified approach to success.  We have multiple required school plans that have been revised to support this new learning model and we invite all stakeholders to support and add their ideas to help us make this the best school in the San Fernando Valley. 

These are complex times. We believe that plans in place to identify and support student needs will best prepare NVMI to navigate these new challenges as they arise. We understand that we must get this right — students and families are counting on us.