For many years I’ve thought of the Seed as a hybrid. Early on, we drew on a variety of approaches to inform our practices. In graduate school I researched Montessori, Waldorf, and embraced the Whole Language movement. We’ve studied the constructivist approach, based on Piaget’s theory, and added Love and Logic ® to our toolbox. When people new to the Seed ask if we’re one thing or another, I’ve found myself easily replying, “We’re a hybrid.” In fact, it’s become part of our branding. Being a hybrid school has taken on a whole new meaning these past few weeks.
Last week I was beckoned to the PreK class to witness an example of hybrid life at the Seed. Three in-person students were deeply engaged in watching their teacher read a book on a pre-recorded video for our virtual students. They followed along with a copy of the book, as their teacher worked elsewhere in the classroom. It allowed them to experience the book independently, in a similar manner to that of their virtual classmates.
Across the hall, our oldest Seeds enjoyed an afternoon of open project time this week. Children sat in small groups with their masks on, working on projects of their choice with recycled materials, tape, glue, paper, markers, etc. It looked like a regular project day except for one thing—at each table was an iPad that connected them to their virtual classmates making their own projects at home. Children chattered with each other, sharing what they were doing, in much the same way they would if they were all together.
A big theme of our curriculum nights was inclusion of our virtual students. Teachers have revised their schedules to include more connection between the two groups. The challenge is that we know it’s not healthy for children to be on screens all day, and we want them to feel engaged. With our teachers operating at their maximum to provide a balanced curriculum for all students, we also want to be mindful of asking them to do more. We have an idea for including parents with building connections within our hybrid program.
Generally we ask a few parents to sign up to be room reps. During a typical year, room reps organize a beginning-of-the-year class picnic, support classroom activities, help with holiday teacher gifts, and other related tasks. With our current COVID-19 situation, many of these tasks won’t be needed immediately or will be deferred. What we are proposing is a non-traditional role for room reps.
In the spring, parents from the 3rd/4th grade class were invited to reach out to each other to find common work time outside of school for children to pair up to work on school assignments, play games, or art projects. We’d like to build on this idea and ask room reps to help coordinate opportunities for engagement in this way. It would be an optional activity, and one that could help all the children feel connected in these times. Next week we will share resources to support these connections. It’s another hybrid strand in the ever-evolving manifestation of Awakening Seed.