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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

April 28, 2020

Dear Families,

It was so wonderful to see the parents who were able to join us last week for our informal family check-ins.  While each meeting was unique, with different challenges and themes emerging, it is clear is that families’ experiences during this time and with remote learning are vastly different.  We agreed to continue to host regular family meetings so that we can stay connected.

The families who participated in my meetings represent only a percentage of our community.  We want to hear from all our families about how they are doing.  We have decided that the best way to gather this information is for teachers to send surveys to families about their child’s online learning experience so far.  In soliciting feedback, please keep in mind that what is ideal for your family may not work for the whole class.  Each family’s situation is unique and as professional educators, teachers will consider families’ responses and make decisions about what will work for their class.  

Some of the sweetest moments during last week’s meetings were when families expressed deep-felt gratitude and appreciation for their teachers.  Please remember that while teachers are doing their best to support children and families, they, too, are living through this crisis.  They, too, worry about the health of parents, children, and other loved ones, about getting groceries or refilling a prescription or whether it’s safe to take a trip to the store.  Recognizing our shared humanity and coming together in solidarity is the way we will get through this time and emerge stronger.  

With Love,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Remote Learning at TNS

Dear Families,

As you know, it’s not possible to recreate the Neighborhood School approach in this online environment.  Much of the work in our school depends on children interacting with one another, with materials, and with teachers.  Communicating via screens and working without regular and ongoing opportunities to collaborate with and get feedback from peers and teachers diminishes the experiences and the learning for children.  

Despite this, we are committed to offering what we can and continue to think about how best to serve and support children and families. We write to share our thoughts about remote learning. 

Our primary goal is to help the kids feel connected to one another and to their teachers. Secondly, we hope the activities we offer provide structure if that is what you are looking for.  Our activities/assignments are connected to work that we have already done in school, and we hope that this provides a sense of continuity.  To the extent possible, we hope to engage children in work and experiences that are meaningful for them.  That said, we invite you to make a plan that works for your family.  It is OKAY if you do not do every assignment every day - please do only as much in the Google Classrooms as makes sense for you and your child. 

Everyone is navigating this crisis and managing the accompanying stressors and burdens in the best way they can.  We know that each family’s situation is unique.  Some parents are not able to work at this time, some are juggling working at home with family responsibilities.  Some families have several devices while others are sharing one device among children and adults with competing schedules and needs.  Some families are also having to care for a sick family member(s).  Every family has very different and specific challenges they are facing and we cannot have identical expectations for all families.

Parents have expressed concerns about how “behind” their children will be, or how this will impact next year.  No child will be held over based on their level of participation or work in this distance learning situation. We will all work together to get children back on track in the fall.  We will meet children where they are and modify our expectations as we need to and build children’s skills while dealing with any fallout from this interruption in their education.  Our primary responsibility now is to help our children and one another through this experience.  Parents can best support children by modeling calm and strength, sharing joyful and playful experiences, and keeping the lines of communication open so that children can express their feelings and ask questions.  We’ll be here, doing the same.

We have to prepare for the likely eventuality that we will not be able to return to our school building this year.  All of the members of the school staff miss being with the children and families of our community (and with one another!).  This is a difficult situation on many levels, but we have to keep health and safety as our top priorities.

Warmly,

Alexis, Anthony, Caroline, Catlin, Chelsea, Cheryl, Corinthia, Dara, Dianne, Dyanthe, Emily, Erin, Grace, Jane, Joanne, Lindsey, Mara, Matt, Oli, Shaniqua, Shaquawn, Sofia, Teddy, Tiffany, and Wanda

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

4.19.20

Dear Families,

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy and that you have had some time to unwind and unplug this past week.   

Online learning resumes tomorrow!  As you know, each classroom at TNS does things a little differently - both when we are together in school and now online.  Teachers plan assignments and meetings with their students in mind and will introduce new platforms and new routines as families become more comfortable and familiar.  Please reach out directly to your child’s teacher if you have any questions.

We are trying something new this week!  Noemi and I are setting up meetings with families through Google Hangouts each day at 4 PM.  I have invited Alice Auth, Pre-K social worker and Barbara DiGangi, Families Thriving Director and social worker to participate as I imagine many questions and concerns may be about social/emotional issues that are arising during this time - both for your children and you!  I will post the meeting code and directions on your child’s classroom stream in the morning:

  • Pre-K Families:  Monday at 4 PM

  • K/1 Families:  Tuesday at 4 PM

  • ⅔ Families:  Wednesday at 4 PM

  • ⅘ Families:  Friday at 4 PM

I anticipate that there will be a few technical glitches, nevertheless, it will be wonderful to each other after soon long!  

The PTA is hosting an informal gathering for TNS families on Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.  During the gathering, families will check in with each other, learn how remote learning is going, provide some updates on the PTA budget and activities, and hear from me and the teachers.  Most of all, this as a chance to connect. 

I went to school on Friday.  It felt so good to be there. The flowers in the garden are bloom (see pic below).  It might have been my imagination, but the children’s artwork in the hallways looked more vivid and the third-floor was a lot cleaner than I remembered.  The kitchen staff was there preparing and handing out meals to people in need. They are all doing well and I was deeply moved to see them greeting people with kindness and sustenance.  

Take care, stay safe and please give your kids a hug from me.  I’ll see you soon.

With Love,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Spring Break Announcement

Dear Families,

Last night, schools received notice from the NYC Department of Education that we will not have Spring Break this year.  We have been anticipating this announcement and teachers are working to prepare a menu of engaging optional activities for children and families during this time.  I know that all of us - children, families, and staff were looking forward to the break to rest, rejuvenate and step away from our devices.  Please know that we are keeping this in mind as we develop plans. Teachers and I will be in communication with details soon. Please see the attached letter from the Chancellor.

With Love,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Dyanthe’s Letter: 3.21.20

Dear Families,

The past week has been incredibly challenging for our school as we prepare to move our entire community to remote learning.  Perhaps not surprisingly, our staff has been AMAZING! Although we can’t be physically together, in many ways I feel we more connected than ever.  

We will be moving our classes to a remote learning environment using Google Classroom.  Google Classroom is a virtual classroom; teachers will be posting messages, videos, and assignments daily - it’s going to be our school for this period of time when we can’t be together in our classrooms at TNS.  I have attached a Youtube video about Google Classroom so that you and your child can become familiar with this new platform. This is learning a curve for us all!  

Needless to say, getting all our students onto Google Classroom this week has been challenging and we have experienced a lot of technical bumps.  We are having trouble getting some students into classrooms, so please be patient. Please try to get onto Google Classroom as soon as your teacher email’s with directions.  In order to join a class, you will need to have activated your NYC Schools Account. You will also need your child’s DOE email address and password. 

Teachers have also been thoughtfully creating their on-line classrooms this week.  Next week, many activities and assignments will be about getting your children and you familiar with Google Classroom.  The work we’ll do in this new remote learning situation will evolve over time as we learn what works best for our community.  During the school day, teachers will available to answer emails and interface with kids from 8:30 AM -1:00 PM.  If you email after 1:00, please know that teachers may not get back to you until the following day. 

Your child’s teacher will be reaching out to you directly next week via phone if your child has an IEP (Independent Education Plan) to review the services in your child’s IEP and share the current expectations for service delivery.  

NYC will continue to distribute Grab and Go meals from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM at TNS.  I know that not everyone is in the neighborhood; here is a link: https://www.csa-nyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/OFNS-Feeder-Hubs_03192020.pdf of over 400 schools around the city that will also have Grab and Go. 

I hope you and your children are continuing to manage during this very trying time.  A tremendous amount is being asked of all of us at this moment in time and we will figure it out, even if it’s not by Monday.  ; ) This is a very steep learning curve for us all. We will need to be patient, understanding and flexible, both with ourselves and each other.

We miss you!  

With love,

Dyanthe

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