ES Leaders on Virtual Learning

What is daily life like for our elementary school leaders? 

Jen Munnerlyn - ES Principal

The past 6-weeks have been challenging, productive, amazing, and connective. I think the most important word I come back to is… We. The elementary school's well-established, team-based approach has allowed teams to provide innovative and creative lessons to students, in a variety of formats, while ensuring parents have control over the daily schedule at home. Our blended approach- providing activities and events at certain times of each day, while ensuring there is always an accompanying activity in Seesaw, which can be completed on the family’s schedule, has resulted in high student attendance and quality learning engagements, which students have shared back with us.

Teachers have mentioned that they are learning new and exciting things about each child. Many speculate that it is the virtual learning medium which is giving us this insight. For the few children and families who are struggling (and it is normal to have up and down days during “emergency” schooling) staff will email, phone, and offer Zoom video conferences to check-in and support. We are here for our families, and from the beginning, it has been a community effort to ensure that our PYP program would continue in a virtual format. Every member of the Elementary Staff has contributed to this effort. We’ve also had record staff attendance over these weeks.

As I end my time here, I can’t help but feel we have succeeded in meeting an early goal set out in the Elementary School five years ago: Teaching from the stance of “We, not me. Our students, not my students”. Through this virtual learning adventure, we have embraced that best-practice model. When we return together, I have no doubt, this staff and these children will capitalize on what they have learned over these weeks and it will benefit us all in the long run. I am very proud to be a part of the American School of Warsaw right now.

Miranda Rose (PYP Coordinator)

These are unprecedented times, globally. Over the past three weeks I have had the chance to connect, learn and work with leaders worldwide as many of us face the shift from having our kids learning with us in the building, to supporting families and students learning at home. Teachers and administrators alike say this has been the most intense teaching and learning they have ever done. I have to agree. We have all learned so much in our first weeks as virtual teachers and administrators.

At ASW we have been fortunate to be able to learn from the mistakes of other schools and build on their successes. We have an incredible leadership team making informed decisions for our context based on what we know, and what we have learned, about leadership, learning, and our community. As a result, we have been able to support our families and students to have predictable, structured and meaningful engagement, in a scaffolded way, with teachers, peers, content to be learned, and skills to be developed. We have been able to provide a sense of comfort and routine through a suggested flexible schedule and using familiar technology to deliver content and create connections. This sense of routine, layering and connection has been fundamental for our students' and families' sense of wellbeing and understanding in these uncertain times. 

In my other job, as an ASW parent, I have watched my own child grow in parallel with ASW virtual learning. He has been able to meet each new layer with enthusiasm and interest. He feels connected to his teachers, who respond to every piece of work he submits, and who "visit" him and inspire him with creative and interesting morning and afternoon videos. Though he misses his friends in real time, the opportunities he has to see and comment on their work virtually, and spend time with them in Zoom class meetings, has been comforting and exciting. He was so excited to share his writing project and learn about his friends' projects in a writing celebration recently. It was amazing! Our programme is offering him the best possible opportunities to feel connected and to continue learning at a really complicated and strange time. He is managing his time, he asks for help when he needs it, and he is taking his work seriously. Our younger daughter has also been able to watch, learn, contribute and feel part of our son's school at home, which has been exciting for her. I am so incredibly grateful for our son's teachers and the whole ES team for the positive memories they are creating related to virtual school.