April 27, 2020
Dear YES Families,
Welcome back! I hope that last week was an opportunity for you and your family to take a break and spend some time resting and recharging together. My vacation itinerary included a lot of painting, organizing and landscaping work. I shared with the YES staff that I have never been so happy to tackle all those tasks at once! It was nice to have all that outside activity before we hit our stretch run of the school year.
When I was in elementary school, over 40 years ago I would add, the education in many schools focused on "compliance". We learned the material because we were directed to do so. There were many times that we saw the "how" and the "what" but did not always make the connection to understand the relevancy of the learning.
As education has progressed and shifted over time, with that came the move from "compliance" to "engagement". An engaged learner has an interest in what is being shared by the teacher and can see relevance in the learning. I was very fortunate to have several teachers that were able to engage me in this learning process.
Today we find the next step in this evolution is to grow from "engagement" to "empowerment". Empowered students learn because they want to and and they see a value in creating a difference for themselves and/or others. This involves creating, making, and connecting learning that is meaningful to the individual. Learning is intrinsically valued and students start to create their own "why" and connection to real life. That doesn’t mean compliance should never exist in a classroom or our work; it just can’t be the end goal.
I am proud to work in a school that values "empowerment" and makes it a priority for our young learners. Our district mission statement: "Empowering All Students to Create Fulfilling Lives in a Changing World" continues to be the foundation of our work as we venture onward with distance learning.
Over the past few weeks I have shared with you some of the thinking on distance learning from AJ Juliani. In his eBook with John Spencer, Shifting Toward Online Learning, the following excerpt speaks to the "empowerment" shift:
"We often talk about what it means to move from compliance to engagement. It’s the idea of creating an environment where students want to learn rather than have to learn. But if we want students to be creative, self-directed learners we need to go beyond student engagement and into empowerment. But this requires some paradigm shifts.
That’s right. We’re going to be talking shift.
Here, students move from critical consuming to inspiration to creativity, where they use the design process to launch their work to the world. It’s a shift from differentiating instruction to personalizing learning And it’s a shift from rigid to adjustable systems so that students own the process. They can set their own pace, choose their own formats, and decide what resources they want to use to accomplish their goals. It’s a shift in mindset from compliance to self-direction. In other words, it’s a shift toward student ownership. When that happens, our students become the creative, critical thinkers who change the world. This is a challenge in a physical classroom, with each student learning at a different pace. But that’s actually the hidden advantage of online learning. The physical distance actually makes it a little less chaotic as we embrace student ownership. One of the easiest ways to empower students with voice and choice is by allowing them to choose the topics.
Our staff continues to reflect and plan on how to make learning as empowering as it can be for our students. I am very proud of the collective work they are doing this through emergency remote learning. I continue to be thankful of the role that you continue to play as parents in supporting this work. Our recent implementation of "Differentiation Day" provides even greater voice and choice with multiple pathways to engage students in the ownership process. I have received positive feedback on this addition and I hope your children enjoyed the first day!
Speaking of great choices, I hope that many of you are able to take advantage of Ms. Pachuta's Zoom classes! More physical activity Zoom classes are schedule to begin on May 4 -May 21. The schedule will be: (Monday) Get Up and Go Fitness / (Tueday) YES Yoga / (Wednesday) Jump Rope / (Thursday) Dance Jam The classes are free with an optional donation to the food bank. To sign up go to Yarmouth Community Services website.https://www.yarmouthcommunityservices.org/
As always, please let me know if there is anything that I can do to support you and your child as we begin this home stretch of the school year. Please continue to stay well!
Ryan Gleason, YES Principal