Dear Middle School Families,
For the past months, I've been working with a variety of constituencies in order to re-envision our Middle School to effectively prepare for September.
Throughout those exploration and planning sessions, we have been guided by three essential priorities:
- Beginning the school year by safely welcoming back all of our students and staffulty every day.
- Prioritizing the student experience to ensure that they continue to learn and grow both as students, individuals, and as citizens of the world.
- Ensuring that even in the face of the limitations of state health guidelines, we provide a learning environment and program faithful to those we offered prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
In doing so, members of the Middle School staffulty have been working tirelessly to redesign curriculum, teaching, and learning to continue to place the wellbeing and needs of every individual student at the heart of all we do. As I write this, teachers are attending webinars, conferences, and participating in various professional learning communities dedicated not only to topics such as hybrid and distance learning, but also social emotional education, childhood development, and anti-biased, identity focused education. Simultaneously, we have continued to reach out to our larger community of independent schools, seeking out best practices, comparing notes, and attempting to refine our thinking and understanding in uncertain times.
As we all already know, reopening King will require us to make significant adjustments to our traditional practices and expectations in order for us to ensure that everyone can return to campus as safely as possible.
Dr. Josh Deitch
Head of Middle School
Teaching and Learning
In planning for our reopening, we sought to balance our own programmatic needs and understanding of our students with the established guidelines provided by the State of Connecticut around social distancing, sanitization, and student groupings. Doing so has led us to make the following adjustments to our traditional academic program for the 2020-2021 school year.
Click here to see a visual of our schedule. Benefits of the model include:
- Safety: Limiting the number of transitions and expanding passing time between courses allows us to stagger release times and minimize the number of students in the hallway at any given time. Sections comprising of small groups allows us to safely house the full complement of students and staffulty in the Middle School while offering a comprehensive and appropriately challenging academic experience. Remote Wednesdays will allow us another opportunity to deep clean and sanitize the Middle School every week.
- Capitalizes on what we know about learning: Longer periods allow students to dive more deeply into a given topic or investigation. As our Strategic Plan calls on us to do, lessons will weave together aspects of direct instruction, collaborative work, and independent research and exploration. Longer periods also are conducive to producing more creative work during the school day. Remote Wednesdays allow us to offer targeted Office Hours and meeting times when individuals or small groups can gather to work through areas of interest, passion, or concern in their academics. Remote Wednesdays will provide a mask break.
- Emphasizes health and wellness: Extended time in the day will be devoted to mindfulness activities, as well as movement and play outside. Moreover, Advisory, a core vehicle of our social and emotional learning curriculum will have significantly more time to meet over these ten days.
- Time for meaningful professional conversation and collaboration: If there is one thing that the past few months have taught us, it is the need for flexibility and for us to continuously refine our understanding of teaching and learning. Remote Wednesdays and scheduling blocks devoted to athletics and the associated arts allow for time for teachers to come together, learn, and plan to ensure that we continue to provide the most responsive and meaningful academic experience.
- Strengthens community: We continue to build community across grade levels and the division through a variety of activities, including Town Halls, special assemblies, and Clubs, on Remote Wednesdays.
- Readily translatable to a remote learning environment should it be necessary.
- Our staffing has increased to reduce class sizes and allow for social distancing
- Daily cleaning of classrooms
- All desks arranged 6 feet apart, facing the same direction
- Directional signs to allow for social distancing
- See videos explaining the physical space use in the Middle School