Letter from Nayamka: Our Education Program
Dear Creative Minds Families:
All of us at Creative Minds are so excited to see your children again, or to meet them for the first time, when we return to class, on an all-virtual schedule, on August 31.
I know that the experience of virtual learning is not the same as being together in person. Chuck Jackson, Creative Minds’ executive director, has called virtual learning “imperfect,” but necessary at this time, when safety is our first priority.
I’m confident that starting the year on an all-virtual schedule is the best decision for Creative Minds and that making this call in mid-July gave our staff, teachers, families, and students much-needed certainty and allowed us to plan for a strong return to school.
My promise is that this year’s virtual-learning program will be an improvement on the program we offered in the spring. After the 2019–20 school year ended, the Creative Minds instructional team and all our teachers spent three weeks reviewing the previous two months of remote delivery, discussing what we had learned, and planning for the coming year.
The instructional team has been putting together a robust educational plan. We have reviewed feedback from teachers, families, and students. We have taken into account attendance rates, student-work samples, observations on Zoom lessons, and best practices from around the city. And we have reflected on all this data to develop a comprehensive plan for distance learning.
I know that the last five months have been challenging and ever changing; we have asked students to adapt, over and over again. I also know that virtual learning can be challenging, too, and that the lack of in-person school experiences can be deeply felt.
This year’s virtual-learning program will focus on meeting students’ social-emotional needs as it provides high-quality instruction and meaningful learning opportunities:
Students will have regular, personal touch points with teachers and other school staff. These will be times for staff and teachers to check in with students about their well-being, social-emotional experiences, and academic and other needs. This will also be an opportunity for supporting students on dealing with trauma.
Students will have regular touch points with their classmates to continue building community.
Students will engage in learning experiences targeted to their specific learning needs, as well as to the most important work of their grades; this may include enabling content from the prior grade.
Students will have flexible, meaningful learning experiences through synchronous and asynchronous lessons. With synchronous instruction and learning, students are learning with a teacher in real time—for example, during a live Zoom class. Asynchronous learning and instruction happen when students are learning away from the group, on their own schedules—for example, when they’re watching a recorded video of their teacher.
We are close to finalizing a sample schedule for both lower school and middle school, and we will share these with you soon. Abby Sheffer, director of lower school, and Lorna Dill, director of middle school, will be sending their own letters, with more information, to the families in their programs.
I thank you for your encouragement and support as we navigate this very unusual school year. Please tell your children that we can’t wait to see them and that their growth, learning, and well-being are what drive our work every day. My team and I are excited to embark on this adventure with you!
Chief Academic Officer