Dear SJS Parents,
We are grateful for those who took the time to respond and provide feedback regarding our continued efforts to navigate and enhance our remote learning program. We received 420 responses that were, for the most part, equally divided amongst all three divisions. In the coming days, your student's respective division head will be communicating any specific adjustments to our program as we finish out the school year.
We did want to take the time to provide some high-level information and summary data regarding our institutional pivot to remote learning. In gauging the overall level of satisfaction on a scale of 1–5 (1 being dissatisfied and 5 being satisfied), our average score was 4.0. When asked about the most effective areas of our program, 75% of respondents intentionally chose to mark "providing connection with teachers," and 72% cited "demonstrating care of student well-being." While 50% were pleased with the level of engagement, we do acknowledge that this is an issue that warrants further discussion for continued potential adjustments.
In addition to surveying parents, we also took the time to solicit input from our faculty and students in Classes 6–12. Our faculty reported similar themes to parents. They reported high levels of satisfaction related to feeling supported, but they also acknowledged the continued challenges involved in providing learning experiences that would elevate levels of student engagement.
Students in Classes 6–12 took the student survey during advisory, and their responses were gratifying to read. Our faculty received high praise for providing a high level of support and connection with students, and the students were also appreciative of the care and attention faculty are giving to their well-being. When asked about their academic workload during remote learning as compared to regular school, 66% of Middle School students indicated they were doing about the same or slightly less work than during a typical school week. In answering the same question, 70% of Upper School students reported that they were working at the same level or slightly less in contrast to the change to remote learning. When asked to select three words to describe what school is like right now, three of the most common responses were "stressful," "weird," and "challenging." Other words that generated high usage were "lonely," "disconnected," "interesting," and "isolated."
As we have mentioned in previous communications, our remote learning program is not a complete and full replacement for our face-to-face, on-campus experience. On-site learning allows us to have complete control over the learning environment. As many of you shared with us (as did our faculty), each family dynamic is unique. From parents working from home, to sharing work spaces with older siblings back from college or jobs, to increased obligations to take care of parents and relatives with underlying medical conditions, we do truly understand and appreciate that nobody has complete control over anything, much less a home-learning environment. As one educational expert noted, "Right now, we need the simplest and most effective methods for our students to achieve the resolution they desire as we seek to sustain the community and connections we have formed on campus." We are delighted that many of you have expressed your appreciation and support for what we have provided to date. Our goal is to continue to be reflective about our remote experience and make those necessary tweaks and adjustments that will improve upon what we are currently providing.
While our focus has been largely directed toward this academic year, we are now beginning to turn our attention to the fall semester. We understand that public health officials will ultimately dictate the specific protocol by which we can gather on campus this August. At the same time, we can start to make plans that can mitigate the active spread of COVID-19 within our specific school population. To provide some greater insight into our thinking for the fall, we encourage you to take the time and listen to the iMav Radio Head Talk
podcast. We cover more ground in greater detail than the written word will allow, and we hope our conversation will address some of the important topics and issues that were also raised within the survey.
One of the silver linings of this pandemic has been the amount of uninterrupted family time that we have experienced. More than anything, this was repeatedly cited and lifted up as a positive outcome of this stressful and anxious time. For your benefit, at the end of this communication we listed some of the parent survey responses that we felt you might enjoy.
Mark Desjardins Chris Curran
Headmaster Associate Headmaster
"One child has played chess remotely with friends, and one child is reading stories to younger friends and family members. We've become closer as a family; and actually, the kids are arguing less than they did before this started."
"My 9th grade son is learning to be proactive with his assignments and feels like he has the ability to finish his work and still have free time."
"In science, we have had 'nature walks' and things that require us to get up and out - otherwise we tend to try to stay put and power through. This remote learning has really helped me understand what is being taught...and where our child has problems...and hopefully will help me help him in the future."
"Our US child commented on how much more sleep she is getting and how much more bandwidth she has to revise her work until she's pleased with the final product."
"Honestly, the best thing about the last few weeks is NOT being bombarded with a million things. It has been the down time where we have watched movies and cooked and played games and just sat outside looking at the moon and the birds."