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A Look Back At Wolf School Connected

5 Lessons From Distance Learning

Distance Learning with Wolf School ConnectedSummer is here at last! As we look forward to sunny weather, time off to spend with friends and family, after dinner ice cream runs, and all of the fun that comes with these upcoming months, we can’t help but look back and reflect on the past 3 months of distance learning.

When distance learning became a reality for the safety of students and staff, The Wolf School dove into the deep end and created a robust online learning plan that encompassed as much of a regular day at Wolf as possible. With a full 5 days a week schedule filled with class activities, lessons, one-on-one and small group sessions with teachers and therapists, social time, movement breaks, and more – Wolf School Connected helped us continue to educate and engage Complex Learners.

While we will continue to learn, grow, and adapt our distance learning program, our time participating in Wolf School Connected has taught us so much! Here are 5 important lessons we’ve learned during distance learning.

  1. Education is all about collaboration

Even prior to COVID-19, parents played an important role in their child’s education at The Wolf School.  This role became paramount during Wolf School Connected.

So much of the success of our students and our program came because of the engagement and dedication of our parents. We relied on our parents to help our students navigate this new digital world, re-enforce lessons, assist when possible, and most importantly, communicate with us when something wasn’t working for a student. This allowed us to work together with families to adapt individual students’ plans so they would have a greater chance at success.

Education is all about collaboration and for students to truly thrive both school and home have to realize they are on the same team and work together through both the good and the bad.

  1. Connection is still possible

Distance learning can be a big shock to any student. Not being able to see friends or go back to school are just a few of the many big changes students faced in a short amount of time. From the beginning, we knew that we would have to work hard not to lose the community connection between our students and staff.

While we weren’t able to physically be together, we uncovered a variety of ways for us to still feel connected. Our weekly All School Assembly took place on Zoom and was a joyous time for students and staff to see familiar faces in other rooms. Our Reading Buddy program between our older students and younger students turned virtual and allowed students to share a story together, work on an art project, or even exchange jokes! Within the “classroom,” morning meeting took place each day for students and staff to touch base and get ready to start their day. Zoom lunch gatherings allowed students to share social time with friends outside of the “classroom.” Even little gestures like lawn signs made a big impression when staff made surprise (and socially distant) visits to drop them off!

Connection, even virtual, is a critical part of any school day and while we might not be together, there are always fun and creative ways to remind students that we are always connected!

  1. Don’t let the glitches get you

When it comes to relying on technology, it’s safe to assume that some glitches will happen. While teacher and parent training, as well as open communication, certainly helped, technology glitches can frustrate the best of us. When it came to Wolf School Connected, it was important for students, staff, and families to not let these glitches distract them from some magical moments made possible with technology.

Whether it was Room 6 students leading a virtual tour of African countries, Room 5 students giving live cooking demonstrations, or Room 2/3 students participating in a group dance break, technology has allowed our students the opportunity to explore and express themselves in creative ways. Even our events like graduation, Closing Ceremonies, and our annual Art Show turned virtual this year and allowed students to share these special moments with friends and family from near and far instead of just those who could travel to the event!

While there might be learning curves and glitches, with patience and flexible thinking, our students and staff were able to utilize technology to help our students stay engaged in learning during Wolf School Connected!

  1. Movement is key

Sitting in front of a computer screen all day can be much more exhausting than it sounds! That’s why it was key for our students to still have movement built into their days!

Wolf School Connected uncovered many ways for us to ensure our students got the movement their brains and bodies needed. Our Move to Learn and PE classes occurred regularly online, staff would lead students in movement breaks over Zoom, students would take a dance break between classes, or an assignment would call for students to make and complete their own obstacle course in their house or backyard!

These frequent movement breaks helped our students regulate their bodies and emotions so they were ready to get back into an online assignment or lesson.

  1. Our students are superheroes

The most important lesson we have learned during Wolf School Connected is that Complex Learners are our superheroes! Distance learning was no easy task but our students rose to the challenge with flexible thinking, patience, and an eagerness to keep learning!

While we are all looking forward to a few months off, we so proud of all of our students (and staff and families!!) for their tremendous effort over the past 3 months!

What are some important lessons you learned during your experience with distance learning? Share them in the comments below!

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