Our Nueva teachers have worked incredibly hard to bring the “Nueva Way” educational experience to our students across all divisions in this new remote learning space. Remote teaching and learning are challenging for students of all ages, but especially for young children. So much of our youngest Nueva students’ day is based on the interactions they have with one another and their teachers. How can that be replicated in an online space?
Kindergarten teachers Laraine Ray and Paul Knight, along with their associates and aides—Rashida Blade, Sam Rubin, Azure Wheelus-Dannels, Shelly Whittet—have not only approached remote learning as student-centered, they have also approached it as parent-centered.
“Most of the things we are doing with the kindergartners requires an adult to support the child,” Laraine said. “Parents are also working, so I’m trying to provide a variety of activities and lessons so parents can best support their children in their learning.”
The kindergarten team has offered parents live question-and-answer sessions. Some of the most common questions they’ve received have been about teaching. Laraine shared, “One parent asked, ‘What do I do if my child doesn’t know what to do?’ This is our opportunity to teach parents how we teach their children.”
On Sunday evening, Laraine shared a special bedtime message with parents and students.
While Laraine provides an on-camera welcome message, the whole kindergarten teaching team collaborated to make this happen.
“This was actually not my idea,” Laraine said. “I was inspired by Paul, who read the book The Invisible String by Patrice Karst to his students, which was the perfect story to use. As teachers, we build on each other’s ideas, and we are inspired by the educators around us.”
In addition to Paul's inspiration, Sam and Azure helped take this from an idea to an actual video. “Had Sam not added the clever sounds effects, for example, the story would have lacked pizazz,” Laraine noted.
This is just one example of the ways the kindergarten team is engaging with its young learners from a distance. Teachers are holding morning meetings and having one-on-one check-ins with students and parents. They are also continuing with studies that began in the classroom.
“Even though we’ve moved to remote learning, we’re still continuing many of the studies we started when we were together at school,” Paul said. “Our spring study of marine life, for example, was decided by the kindergartners a few weeks ago. Our teaching team has been collecting as many digital stories, videos, and hands-on activities as we can to help our students follow these interests at home.”
"We have been so impressed and inspired by the way the kindergarten team has rolled out remote learning. Although there is no replacement for in-person learning, or the magic that teachers bring to our children each day, the kindergarten team has helped our child to feel engaged, inspired, and connected."
Parent Jessica Kumar was effusive in her praise of the kindergarten team: “We have been so impressed and inspired by the way the kindergarten team has rolled out remote learning. Although there is no replacement for in-person learning, or the magic that teachers bring to our children each day, the kindergarten team has helped our child to feel engaged, inspired, and connected. We can't thank them enough.”
Teachers are also thoughtfully bringing mindfulness, a key component of the social-emotional learning (SEL) program, into the digital space. On Wednesday, “teachers took turns reading a mindfulness book to the students during our morning meeting,” Paul noted. “As we read, students practiced deep, mindful breathing. They scrunched up their bodies, and then let go of the tension, wiggling out like spaghetti. Our hope is that revisiting concepts like mindfulness in this way can help set our students up for success. We also hope that seeing their friends scrunching and ‘spaghetti-ing’ along with them helps them know that, even if we’re physically distant, our community is still strong.”