Welcome Back Message from Principal Williams

Welcome Back Message from Principal Williams
Posted on 09/14/2020
Dear Families,

We are excited to welcome King Open families back to a new school year. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are looking forward to partnering with families in order to make this school year as meaningful and joyful as possible while advancing learning with a coordinated focus on our most vulnerable populations. As a reminder, the first day of school is Wednesday, September 16th. September 16th, 17th, and 18th are half days (8:55AM - 12Noon) Students will have full learning days starting Monday, September 21st (8:55AM - 2:55PM). Remote learning will be a combination of synchronous, asynchronous and independent activities Monday - Friday. In person learning for eligible families will begin on Tuesday, October 13th. In person schooling will happen Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will be a full remote learning day.

Student Participation and Active Engagement
We will be starting the school year remotely and students are expected to attend virtual school each day during the regular school hours (8:55AM - 2:55PM). Attendance is required and will be taken during daily live sessions throughout the day, all assigned work is expected to be completed, and students are expected to actively engage in all activities planned by their teacher(s). We will work together to support your child’s transition back to school remotely and in person by supporting social emotional learning through community building and joyful learning activities in order to set the stage for teaching curriculum content. Hopefully, recent Family Conferences have helped to set the stage for our work together this year.

Helping Your Child(ren) Follow/Learn the Schedule
Your child will receive a schedule from your child’s teacher by the close of the week. Keep in mind that we are constantly making adjustments to the schedule and your child’s schedule may be modified as adjustments are made. You will be kept informed and regardless, classroom teachers, special educators, related service providers, specialist teachers, interventionists, coaches paraprofessionals, interns etc. will work together to help make your child’s navigation of the schedule as smooth as possible. Obviously, we need parent/caregiver support to help facilitate remote learning particularly for younger students in JK/K - 2nd grade.  Special education schedules will be forthcoming. Students on an IEP or 504 will receive a remote learning plan from their case manager in the near future. Classroom teachers will work alongside the special educators to incorporate these plans into their daily schedule. Case managers will connect with families to review these plans.

What Caregivers Can Expect: Remote Learning Schedule Guidelines (Overview)
These schedules may vary depending on grade level in order to accommodate developmental needs.

Morning Meeting

Live Video Morning Meeting (30 min)

  • Community/SEL check-in
  • Skills building/executive function
  • Morning message & review of the schedule of independent learning
Core Class or Subject
(e.g. Math, ELA, Social Studies,
Science, etc.)

Live Video Lessons (30-60 min)

  • Whole or small group lessons reviewing, reteaching, or reinforcing new
    learning (30 min)
  • Small group or one-on-one instruction
    (30 min X minimum of 2 times/day)
  • Skills building/executive function
  • Preparation for independent learning

Schedule of Independent Learning Activities (at least 175 mins)

  • Recorded video lessons introducing new learning (2 X 20 min)
  • Independent learning activities
    (e.g. independent reading, assignments, projects, etc.) (105 min)
  • Online Learning Programs varies
(e.g. Visual Arts, PE, Music, Library, etc.)

Live or Recorded Video Lessons (30 min)

  • Video lessons and/or independent learning activities
    (e.g. assignments, projects, etc.)
Lunch & Play Independent Lunch & Play (60 min)

Technology Platform Your Child's Teacher Will be Using
Teachers will share the virtual platforms they will be using to engage students as well as establish regular communication with families with attention to feedback received regarding preferred communication methods. There will be consistency at and across grade levels with the use of virtual platforms with attention to students developmental needs.

Educational Technology

Software/Tool Grade Level Support CPS PD Links
Google Meet
JK - 5
Google Meet Updates Google Meet Slides
Seesaw JK - 2 About Seesaw Seesaw Slides
Google Classroom 3 - 5 GC Updates GC Part 1 Slides
GC Part 2Slides
Pear Deck JK - 5 About Pear Deck Pear Deck Slides

Screen Time

We are aware that families are concerned about screen time. We are not expecting students to be in front of the screen for the full duration of the day. We are increasing instructional time with an adult throughout the day with an emphasis on small group learning augmented by independent and asynchronous activities. In some instances, students may be expected to remain in the google or zoom meeting while completing work. This will enable students to check in or ask clarifying questions as needed.

Specialist Teachers (Music, Art, PE, Technology, Library)
For the most part, specials will be taught live with some asynchronous options to be determined. PE will be the one exception. PE will be a face-to-face or in person activity. Face-to-face PE will be facilitated outdoors. PE classes will be taught in small groups.

In Person/ Remote Learning Expectations:
We need parent/caregiver help in setting the expectations for student success remotely. Students need to make a mental shift now that school is starting. Please review these expectations with students in an effort to assist them in making the mental shift.

  1. Identify a quiet space to work as free from distractions as possible ( Note: When students are participating in remote sessions, students need to be free of distractions (this includes siblings)
  2. Come to the Google Meet fully clothed and out of bed
  3. Make sure video games and/or televisions are off and stay off for the duration of class
  4. No phone use during class unless you have permission from a teacher.
  5. Have any materials you may need prepared ahead of time and within reach including... Pencils boxes (and their contents), paper, notebooks, etc.
  6. Make sure your Chromebook is fully charged and your charger is nearby
  7. Students are expected to log on /participate in all synchronous learning activities
  8. Families need to email/communicate to teachers if a scholar is going to miss part of the day or the entire day.
  9. Students are expected to use technology appropriately
  10. Make sure you eat your breakfast/lunch before or after lessons

This Week: Wednesday, 9/16, Thursday, 9/17, and Friday, 9/18: 8:55AM - 12NOON Each Day
The official start of the school year is Wednesday, September 16th. All students start remote. The first 3 days of school are early release days. The learning will begin at 8:55AM and conclude at 12Noon.

Social Emotional Learning - The Focus Wednesday, 9/16, Thursday, 9/17 and Friday, 9/18: 8:55AM - 12NOON
As we start the school year, our primary focus is Social Emotional Learning. Academics – teaching core content will come. Teachers will prioritize building a sense of community, attending to SEL needs, setting learning expectations, establishing norms and building routines. Educators will help students re-acclimate themselves to school through fun, inspiring and culturally responsive learning experiences.

Overarching Guidelines:
Teachers will,

  1. Attend to students social emotional needs by prioritizing small group options for greater personal connections. Students have been out of the traditional school setting for a while and there are a lot of happenings in the world particularly racially charged issues impacting some students more than others. Gathering and positively connecting is paramount.
  2. Reinforce expectations for attendance, participation and engagement throughout the day understanding that we are not a complete community unless everyone is actively present and learning in joyful and culturally responsive ways.
  3. Strategically set the stage for establishing norms and routines and include students in the decision and community building process.
  4. Remind students that gathering safely and respectfully together helps to make us feel better
  5. Invite specialist teachers (Music, PE, Library, Technology, Art) to participate in morning meetings and/or small group or other activities as they are paramount to building community and setting the stage for innovation and creativity.

Wednesdays Effective the Week of September 21st:
Wednesdays will be:

  • Fully Remote for All Students
  • Full School Days for Student Learning: 8:55AM - 2:55PM
  • 3 Hours of Synchronous: 8:55AM - 12NOON
  • Student Lunch: 12NOON - 1PM
  • 2 Hours of Asynchronous/Independent Work w/Check-in
  • 30 minute Lunch for Teachers
  • 2.5 Hours of Staff Planning

At KO, we believe that continuous learning is the work! This belief informs how we attend to students’ social, emotional and academic needs. While the Massachusetts State Standards inform our teaching practice, we understand that learning extends beyond the classroom. Family experiences are an intricate part of the KO curriculum. These experiences broaden perspectives and deepen community connections. We hope to elevate family cultures and experiences in ways that are practical and meaningful. Each grade level has a yearlong project that incorporates the histories and interests of our families as well as allows for exploration and individual creativity. Again, we hope to incorporate projects throughout the school year.

KO is a Responsive Classroom school that has embraced Mindfulness and Nurtured Heart practices. RC informs how we create classroom community, facilitate a positive learning environment and teach students how to regulate/manage their behavior. Mindfulness is about managing thoughts and strengthening a student's capacity to think clearly and with purpose. Nurtured Heart is an asset based approach. The primary focus is to recognize, celebrate and reinforce students' strengths.

This year we will continue to deepen our understanding of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and its seamless connection to Social Emotional Learning and academic engagement for all students. This is particularly important given the racial inequities ever present in our nation and amplified by unfortunate current events. Sonia Nieto’s definition of Social Justice in Education will continue to inform our work. Zaretta Hammond’s book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain will also continue to inform our work this school year. Our professional development will build off of our work last school year emphasizing the inextricable link between special and regular education teachers and geared toward practicing and expanding co-planning models that extend and refine collaboration practices already in place. This work will be augmented by trauma informed professional development for teachers and support staff through our partnership with Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention. The totality of our professional development falls under the umbrella of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and underscores our absolute and definitive purpose - to educate and empower students while balancing the demands associated with teaching remotely!

Family Engagement

At KO, we believe that continuous learning is the work! This belief informs how we attend to students’ social, emotional and academic needs. While the Massachusetts State Standards inform our teaching practice, we understand that learning extends beyond the classroom. Family experiences are an intricate part of the KO curriculum. These experiences broaden perspectives and deepen community connections. We hope to elevate family cultures and experiences in ways that are practical and meaningful. Each grade level has a yearlong project that incorporates the histories and interests of our families as well as allows for exploration and individual creativity. Again, we hope to incorporate projects throughout the school year.

Family involvement is a very important aspect of our school community. Neusa DaCosta is the KO Family Liaison. She is always available to support families and respond to questions about our school. Neusa can be reached by phone or email ([email protected], 617.349.6540). We will be scheduling Welcome Back Virtual Q&A Sessions with families soon. As always, feel free to also reach out to your child’s classroom teacher or office staff if you have questions.

Helping to Facilitate Learning In Person or Remotely
We understand that the most important engagement is the work parents and caregivers do each day to help their child navigate the school day. At times, you will need to sit with or check in with your child about independent assignments. At times you will need to contact the teacher regarding content or SEL related matters. We will certainly reach out to you. This partnership is the most important form of family engagement. We value your input.

The Friends of King Open is our parent/caregiver organization focused on family outreach, community events, and fundraising.
Please click here for more information.

We encourage you to continue to embrace the spirit of King Open. Friends of King Open (FOKO) has sweatshirts, sweatpants, t-shirts, and winter hats for purchase. We want to make it even easier to show King Open pride.

Please join us for Principal Chats. Principal Williams hosts monthly drop-in coffee to offer parents/caregivers a chance to explore a range of topics that impact our community. This year we hope to integrate Race & Equity discussions grounded in Zaretta Hammond’s book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain and How to Be Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi. There is no formal agenda for these meetings, just drop in to pose a question or listen to the discussion. All JK-5 parents/caregivers are welcome and encouraged to attend! All sessions will be Zoom meetings. The dates and times of these virtual meetings will be shared.

The acronym R.O.A.R. is the pillar of our building-based expectations. Your child’s teacher will revisit these expectations in class during the first six weeks of school and model to students what these expectations look like in practice. (see attached)

On behalf of the King Open Staff, I want to again express my sincere appreciation for selecting King Open as the extended learning environment for your child - for both in person and remote learning. We value your trust. As always, the successful start of the school year is only the beginning. It is our collective responsibility to communicate with each other so that decisions and practices are grounded in equity and fairness.

Looking forward to our work together,

Darrell Williams

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