Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:
We’ve been inspired by the resilience and adaptability of our colleagues in education. Today, I want to share—among so many—the great insights on distance learning from two of our colleagues at The Glenbard Schools and Loyola Academy. Leaders at these schools, like many of their colleagues, are displaying great sensitivity to the experience and mindsets of their teachers, families, and students in order to maintain continuous academic progress.
What’s working well? What lessons have you learned from the transition?
Principal Charlie Heintz: I am so proud of how our teachers pivoted and how our students responded to the new platform. It has been uplifting to see it in action. What I’ve learned is that students want to be with their peers. They like the online connection, and they also take their studies seriously. Finding the balance between maintaining personal connection and advancing course objectives is key. We implemented a day of “virtual office hours” where teachers were available to answer student questions. Without face-to-face contact, it’s important that we adopt a pace that allows all students to remain current with the material.
Assistant Director Patrick McGill: Throughout this time I have been reminded that we have some of the best teachers in the world teaching at Glenbard. Their dedication and commitment to supporting their students and helping them learn during this time is inspirational. I am also so grateful to work with such a talented administrative staff at each of our schools who have worked tirelessly to support our students and teachers during this time. Without their hard work and talent, we would not be having the success we see today.
What are you still working on improving, and what additional resources do you need?
Principal Heintz: We initially believed that e-learning was for two weeks; we now know it is much longer. In our planning, we need to shift from a sprinter’s stride to a marathoner’s. We need to find the balance and recognize that “doing school” from home has challenges for our teachers and our students. Our teachers are also home schooling their own children, and many of our students are caring for their siblings.
Assistant Director McGill: As in anything, we continue to find new challenges to overcome during this E-Learning period. We are fortunate to have the talent within our district to make these problems seem relatively small. However, one thing that continues to be on my mind is working to ensure our students are learning the essential skills in their classes to prepare them for their future. At some point this will all be over, and we want to ensure that our students are prepared to hit the ground running.
There is much to be gained from learning how effective leaders cultivate academic mindsets in their communities—as well as display empathy for the experiences of their teachers and families. We believe their great work is transitive—from school leader to teacher to parent to student to our collective, ultimate goal: continuous academic progress.
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO