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Episode show notes 

Mike Siciliano, Dean of Students of the Upper School, and faculty members Kristi Ellis, Cynthia Nixon, and Sarah Baughman, discuss remote learning at SFC, diving into topics such as remote learning practices and tools, student experiences, teacher collaboration, and how SFC continues to maintain community, mentorship and discipleship. SFC is dedicated to life-long learning and intentional mentorship no matter the circumstance. The SFC administration and faculty continue to focus on how to best serve their students — giving them access to their teachers and resources, and executing compelling lessons using a variety of technological applications.

Mike Siciliano, Upper School Dean of Students, has a long history with Sante Fe Christian, sitting in several roles including alumnus, US history teacher, and football coach. As a student, Siciliano felt he had teachers and coaches who personally invested in him, and made a huge difference in his life. Now, he tries every day to continue that legacy for current SFC students, live up to the standard his teachers set for him, and have a lot of fun.

Cynthia Nixon, fifth-grade math and Bible teacher, has worked at SFC for 14 years. During her time at SFC, she’s held several roles, including Lower School teacher and campus tech coach. 

Kristi Ellis, Assistant Principal of SFC Middle School, has worked at SFC for four years, teaching subjects like Bible, identity and sisterhood, and yearbook, before stepping into her current role. 

Sarah Baughman is in her first year at SFC and teaches a ninth- and tenth-grade honors English.

Contents

0:00-2:30 – Introductions

2:32 – How did teachers prepare for the quick transition to remote learning?

● What kind of tools were used to facilitate learning?

    ○ Flipgrid

    ○ Seesaw

    ○ TurnItIn.com

    ○ Screencastify

    ○ Zoom video conferencing

4:05 – What was the experience like for Upper School students?

5:23 – Kristi Ellis shares what remote was like for the Middle School and how the administrators help teachers prepare and collaborate.

7:07 – All teachers came together and collaborated on the best tools and methods to facilitate remote learning

10:54 – Maintaining personal connections with students during remote learning

● Small group, discussion-based video classes

    ○ Harkness method

    ○ Socratic seminar

● Checking in with students to still care for the whole child, which is at the core of the SFC experience

13:14 – Still finding time for spiritual growth during remote learning

John Eldredge – Ransomed Heart website

14:12 – Ways SFC has maintained community, mentorship, and discipleship during remote learning

Weekly Chapel videos

QuaranTIME podcast

15:40 – Finding ways to replicate the same level of in-class learning during remote education

Explain Everything Online Whiteboard

● One on one Zoom tutoring sessions for individualized feedback

18:44 – How remote learning practices and tools were improved and optimized since the beginning of implementing emergency remote learning

● Instituted a remote learning calendar for all students and parents

● Creating time for more breaks and balance with screen time and opportunities to go outside

● Removing technological barriers for all students and parents

22:08 – The big takeaways and what teachers have learned from remote learning

● Maintaining balance, checking in with students as humans

● Finding new ways to continue building personal connections with students

● Creative ways to learn and connect through non-academic activities

● Allowing choice, flexibility, and self-direction

29:14 – Students building community and serving others during remote learning

● Operation appreciation

Transcript

Mike Siciliano [00:00:04] Welcome to the Eagle Perspective, our Santa Fe Christian podcast on all things Santa Fe Christian, giving you an inside look at our school, our culture, our community. We have a special episode today on remote learning at Santa Fe Christian. I am joined by three of our faculty members, Cynthia Nixon, Kristi Ellis, and Sarah Baughman. Welcome to the three of you. Thanks for being here.

Guests [00:00:27] Thanks for having us. Happy to be here.

Mike Siciliano [00:00:30] So this is an unexpected podcast, of course, because up until, what, two and a half months ago, none of us expected to be doing remote learning. And I don’t know about you guys, it’s been interesting for me in my role and I’m sure for you as well making this adjustment. It’s not something we foresaw. So thank you in advance for all the work that the three of you are doing. Why don’t we start by each of you introducing yourself, your role at Santa Fe and a little bit about you, Cynthia, you can get started.

Cynthia Nixon [00:00:59] Sure. Yeah. Well, I’m Cynthia Nixon and I am currently teaching fifth-grade math and Bible and I have been at Santa Fe for I think this is my 14th year, something like that between lower school and tech coach things. I’ve done a lot of everything. But right now, I’m currently teaching fifth grade.

Mike Siciliano [00:01:18] Kristi?

Kristi Ellis [00:01:18] Thank you. I’m Kristi Ellis. I’m the assistant principal of the middle school. I’ve been at Santa Fe, I think this is my fourth year, taught for three years in various capacities, Bible, identity and sisterhood and also the yearbook. And this year, it’s just been my privilege, this really interesting year to be the assistant principal. Thanks for having me. 

Mike Siciliano [00:01:41] Of course. And then, Sarah.

Sarah Baughman [00:01:42] I’m Sarah Baughman, and it is my first year at Santa Fe. I teach 9th-grade and 10th-grade college prep in honors English. Thanks for having me.

Mike Siciliano [00:01:52] Yeah. So we really kind of have the full gamut, here today between the four of us. And just a reminder, my name is Mike Siciliano. I’m the dean of students of the upper school. I was a student at Santa Fe. I was a history teacher at Santa Fe. And now I’m overseeing student life and also teaching a philosophy class. So between the four of us, we have everything from a new teacher, longtime teacher, administrator, the whole gamut. And I’d say for each of us, this has been quite an adventure. If each of you could talk about when this first became a reality for you and kind of what you did to prep before we even found out we were going into remote learning. And Cynthia, maybe you can go first.

Cynthia Nixon [00:02:32] Sure. You know, I think for me, the biggest thing was making sure that my students knew how to use whatever platform it was that we were going to be using. So when we first kind of started thinking, wow, this might be a thing that we’re going to have to do, I kind of took stock of what would I use to communicate most with my students and get the work from them. Right? That’s an important thing, too, because it’s easy to get work out to them sometimes. But how do you get it back and look at it? And I actually felt like I was in a pretty good spot. Our fifth graders were very well versed in Flipgrid as well as something called Seesaw, which really allows me to send out assignments and they can send things back and record and show their thinking, which was great for the mathematics I would need to do. So I really felt like we were in a pretty good spot. And so at that point, it was, you know, is there anything right now that I need to frontload just in case. Is there something I need to do right now or teach them right now so that when we do go if we go, which, you know, ultimately we did, that they would be prepared for that. So those are kind of my first thoughts on, you know, do they have what they need? Do they know how to use what they need that I’ll have to use to communicate with them if that time comes?

Mike Siciliano [00:03:38] Awesome. So maybe it’s unfair that I started with Cynthia, the EdTech coach because the rest of us, I know, had varying levels of use of technology in the classroom. So, Sarah, I’ll come to you. Were there any new pieces of technology you had to learn in order to prep for this or were your students already pretty well versed in things, and it was a matter of just translating it to the remote experience? What was it like for you?

Sarah Baughman [00:04:05] So in Upper School, I honestly think our kids were already pretty well prepared because a lot of their classes are using online resources in English. My kids were already very used to sharing assignments with me on Google Docs to TurnItIn.com. They were very comfortable with discussions already. So switching to Zoom discussions or a discussion board was pretty seamless for them for me. I definitely had to learn about a couple of different platforms that were available. One of the ones that worked really well in English was our My School Discussion Board, where the students can post and comment on each other’s posts. But they picked that up a lot easier than I did, I think.

Mike Siciliano [00:04:53] Yeah, I learned that as well. In my philosophy class, I’ve been using that discussion board and it actually reminded a lot of being in grad school. And so it’s funny as we shifted to remote learning, we’re actually starting to use tools that I think a lot of the colleges and graduate schools are already using with things like on online discussion posts. And I know it’s been effective for my class as well. Kristi, how about for you both as an administrator and the class you teach? What did you have to do to prep for this?

Kristi Ellis [00:05:23] Gosh, it’s funny to think back to some of those really early discussions. I think one of the first things that Dr. Deveau and I did was just begin to float the idea out to our teachers in a faculty meeting. And I remember just feeling like this is probably not going to happen but if you should need to change the way you do business and transfer what you’re doing in the classroom to online, what would that look like? So it just began with floating that out to make sure that our teachers began ruminating a bit on what that transition would look like. And then from there, it just became a matter of supporting one another. And I think this probably taking the question a bit far. But I think one of the most exciting things from an administrative perspective was just watching our teachers begin to collaborate from that moment. You know, one hand went up and said, well, I know how to do Screencastify and someone else knew how to use Zoom. And right away, you know, we watched our teachers begin to shift, although, you know, kind of a little bit tongue in cheek, like it probably won’t happen. But if it did and it sort of popcorn around that faculty room as everyone was kind of thinking about what this might look like. So that’s how that looked. And it was exciting and actually really, really heartwarming in a way, watching all the different generations of teachers that we have in a room bringing out the best in each other. I found myself to be hugely the learner as well. So, you know, I would email or call Grantham Jones, who was, you know, twenty-something and so quick and adept at everything. And he would help me put something together for one of my classes. So, I mean, the heart of what I saw at Santa Fe was collaboration and just our ability to be nimble. You know, we moved really quickly and helped each other out. 

Mike Siciliano [00:07:07] Sarah maybe you speak a little bit as well to that collaboration?

Sarah Baughman [00:07:11] Yes. I think from a teacher’s perspective, I couldn’t have asked for a better transition. It was not frantic at all. We had been planning for weeks. I mean, a month before we went into remote learning was the first time it was brought up in a faculty meeting. And we got to all sit and discuss what would this look like in English as a team. So we had kind of already been brainstorming and it was so nice to be able to transition so smoothly. I had friends at other schools who were asking like, how are you so comfortable with this already? Or how did you know how to use Screencastify? And it was because of our collaboration and preparation.

Mike Siciliano [00:07:53] Yeah. And it is kind of amazing to think back now. I mean, we started this prep really two weeks or so before we made the decision to go remote. And, you know, I remember it was Wednesday of the last week we were on campus when it started to look like a real possibility. Friday, we closed the campus. And by the following Wednesday, remote learning started. It was pretty amazing, I think, that we really only missed a couple of days of school in getting up and running. And that’s accredited to the three of you and your colleagues and in being prepared. I’m curious as you got into it, what are some of the things that you found have worked really well in remote learning? And Cynthia, why don’t you get us started with that one.

Cynthia Nixon [00:08:37] Yeah. You know, I think that we all have recognized how much of a challenge remote learning really can be. But at the same time, how well it can work, if that makes sense. There are a lot of things I think we’ve learned a lot about what works really well and then what the challenges are. And for me, you know, having my students be able to use something like Seesaw. Seesaw enables me to send a question out to my students and they can digitally show their work right on the screen, record a video, explain their thinking and submit it back to me and then I’m able to leave them comments. So I have students that are constantly solving work, sending it back. I can hear their thinking and see their thinking. And then I’m able to leave comments or check this one or this one was awesome or, you know, all that and send it right back to them. And that really created this feeling of, OK, we’re just continuing what we did in the classroom because that’s something I had in place in the classroom. They were used to doing that and used to getting feedback that way. And it went really well. I think the hardest thing, especially with the younger kids, is, OK, we’re on a Zoom call and I now have 20 kids on my screen and they’re all doing something different. One is moving in the chair and you know, so just getting used to the environment of the video call itself, I think was the hardest thing. And just being able to continue the emotional connection with the. Kids, because I felt like as far as the school work went, it was pretty seamless. We were able to, you know, give out those instructions on My School App. The kids knew how to access it. I mean, we had a few that, you know, had to work into it for a week or so, but they settled in really well. So the challenge was really just keeping up that personal connection with each of the students.  We’re not able to see them physically every day. So that I think was the biggest challenge. But I feel like everybody did well from the perspective of the former Ed-tech coach. I was really, really impressed and proud of our teachers at how everyone just stepped up and started helping one another and coming up with ideas and sharing things. And the parents have come alongside the students. And, you know, that’s a whole other aspect of it too. The students have stepped up and said, OK, well, here we go. I was really impressed overall at how smoothly it went and just how we were able to just keep going?

Mike Siciliano [00:10:54] Well, clearly, that’s a credit to the Ed-tech coach, I believe. Thank you for all those years, Cynthia. So, Sarah, you mentioned your class was pretty discussion-based. I mean, that’s one of the things about English at Santa Fe. We do a lot of Harkness, Socratic seminar, you know, really heavy in discussion and interaction. So all of a sudden on, you know, three, four days notice your class going online, how have you managed to maintain that?

Sarah Baughman [00:11:26] So actually kind of the opposite of Cynthia. One of the easiest things because our class is discussion-based has been maintaining that bond with the kids. So one of the things that I found that worked well is we did lots of different types of discussions. So we would have full class discussions, we would have mixed class discussions with about eight to nine kids. And that gave them a chance to talk with kids who weren’t in their course. And then I also did three to four kid discussions, which were really fun because I advised the kids to have them on their phones and sit outside and enjoy the weather because you can see four people on your phone. I would say mixing up the types of conversations that we had, the amount of kids in each conversation really allowed us to continue that bond and to have meaningful discussions. 

Kristi Ellis [00:12:20] Mike, if I could add on to Sarah, just as a mom, I have a daughter in Sarah’s class and this tags on a little bit with what Cynthia shared in trying to maintain that essential human piece of what we do and the connectedness with our kids. And Sarah, I feel like this whole time you have been looking after the whole child. You had given Ashley and her classmates’ questions. How are you taking care of yourself? How can I pray for you? What do you need? So beyond this excellence in academics and the splits that you’re doing to create conversation? I think it’s really critical to add that you have met that spiritual need and that connectedness need for our kids and as a mom and as an administrator and as a faculty peer with you. I just appreciate that so much.

Sarah Baughman [00:13:14] Thank you. Yeah, I mean, those small group discussions have allowed for that, right? Because I can check in with them and they’re with friends that they feel comfortable having those conversations with. But it’s helped to just stay in contact with them to check and see, how was the workload this week? Which classes are stressing you out? What can I help with on an even one week during remote learning? I can tell we were about halfway through and they were pretty burnt out and overwhelmed. And so we took a break and we did a discussion on a devo by John Eldredge. And it was amazing. It was about finding beauty in the small things in nature. And my ninth graders and tenth graders soaked it up. They loved it. So it was a great spiritual growth moment. And it showed too like Kristi was saying, it’s so important to be checking in on the whole kid, not just the student. 

Mike Siciliano [00:14:12] You know, it’s funny. That’s on my list of questions here. And I think it’s great, you know that the three of you have talked about that emotional connection, the mentoring of students, the spiritual discipleship. I mean, that is so at the heart of what we do. I didn’t even have to ask the question. It’s so central. And I want to mention some other things as well. You know, our chapel team are doing a weekly chapel video. We’ve tried to do a quaranTIME podcast with some games and hearing from teachers and students to maintain community. And I’ve heard from so many of our students that you, the teachers have created opportunities for them to connect and just talk about life in addition to school, right, is not just about continuing the learning. It’s about continuing the mentorship. And so I salute all three of you and your colleagues for the job you’ve done on that. I want to get a little bit more specific. Getting back to the academic part a little bit, as you’ve mentioned, some of the technologies you’ve used. I know for my class I can’t teach my class the same way remotely than I would in person. And I think for at least some of you, that’s the same. So maybe for some of the listeners we could talk about what are some of the tools that you’re using to deliver content or to connect with kids that you wouldn’t have to use in a non-remote setting?

Cynthia Nixon [00:15:40] Yeah. I think for me, you know, teaching math, there’s a lot of discussion that happens in the classroom and a lot of, you know, active teaching and drawing that goes along with talking about a new subject. And for me, you know, with the math training we have, most of my math instruction is very much a big conversation. It’s not showing the kids how to do something. And then having them practice said there’s really a lot of thinking and expanding their thinking and challenging their thinking that happens as a whole group discussion. So my math instruction had to change dramatically. But I am using a program called Explain Everything on my iPad, which allows me to draw and talk and kind of record a lesson. But it’s neat. You know, the kids just see it as a video. But on my end, I’m able to go back and, you know, if I said the wrong number or wrote the wrong thing, I can go back and tweak just little parts of it. So I don’t have to rerecord the whole lesson just because I have one little thing that maybe I got wrong or I wanted to add or change. So the technology piece just allowed me to create a really solid video to then send out to my students and they were able to watch those and then go and practice and they’re able to go on Flipgrid and talk about their math responses. My goal was really to get them practicing on something where I could see their progress. And so all of those things together kind of created a situation where I was able to get them the content, they were able to practice it and then show me their work, which was really helpful.

Sarah Baughman [00:17:04] In English, it was the most complicated with writing because a lot of the instruction that happens is individualized and talking to kids one on one. And so I had to try and find a way to do that without being on Zoom for back to back one on one meetings for crazy amounts of hours. I did before they turned in an essay, allow kids to sign up for a 10 minute one on one tutoring session, which worked really well. So they shared their essay with me on Google Docs and we sat looking at each other Zoom and then both looking at their essay, commenting and pointing things out. Some of the other things that worked really well and they’re not new or complex platforms at all are. So they would submit an outline and I would tell them in the next three days I’m going to comment on your outline and then I need you to re-share it with me to show me that you’ve been able to fix those things. So a lot of it has just been trying to provide that individualized feedback. Just not face to face.

Mike Siciliano [00:18:11] Well, obviously, there’s a lot that has gone well and there are some things we’ve learned. And so, Kristi, I’m going to actually ask you first, as the administrator, you probably heard about a couple of things early on maybe we needed to change or that we could learn from. I’m just guessing, but maybe you can share some of how we pivoted after the first couple of weeks. You know, this is what we would say was emergency remote learning. What are some things after the first couple weeks that you saw us change to meet some feedback? 

Kristi Ellis [00:18:44] In the Middle School, I think pretty quickly, actually, within a couple of days as Dr. Deveau, I would Zoom in and out of meetings and then I have the benefit also being a mom at home and watching what’s happening at my kitchen table. What I found was the fluidity of remote learning like the starts and stops and how much to finish in one day. It was for a middle school brain, it was pretty hard to know how to begin and end if that makes sense. And so Dr. Deveau and our team and I and we brought on another teacher actually to help facilitate a remote learning calendar for our students for grade level. So sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade. And that took a tremendous amount of coordination and collaboration. And so every week our goal was to produce a Monday through Friday daily, essentially like an agenda that parents could print out and then using it would show like 9:00 a.m. Zoom required for English. And so the kids would have on paper, too, if they chose to print it out, just a way to navigate their day and know where they needed to be when. Just as a mom, one of the things that I wanted to was opportune for my kids to get up and go outside, get a little vitamin D, take a breath and not just drone on, you know, into Zoom after Zoom. So that was the way that we pivoted as well, was sort of addressing break times and really speaking to that with our teachers and with our students too. So the calendar allowed us to do that early. I think that’s one of the most successful things actually that came out of this was that collaboration in the creation of that tool for our kids. And then the other thing that we did early on, actually, before we jumped into remote learning, but we fine-tuned it as we went was we obviously using the MySchool app, each of our teachers would select using their topics tiles. So to someone who is not a Santa Fe parent, this doesn’t make sense. But essentially, there’s one place, one-stop-shop. So every child knows where to go in every class for what they are to do within that class structure. So we were trying very hard to take down any technological barriers because across the board early on for everyone, it was just so, so very stressful. How to get into this, how to learn this? Where do I find this? And to the degree that we could help, we brought that barrier down and tried to make it succinct and clear and accessible so that the technology itself was no longer the barrier. Obviously, that takes time. That’s a learning curve as well. We saw that begin to click in and move really within a week or so students and our teachers became exceedingly adept at words that we had never used before, you know, and I was Screencastify, Zoom, Nearpod. We’re throwing around all these words like we’ve been saying them our whole lives and we’ve been saying them for like nine days. And then our students, you know, we’re accessing it that way. Accessing it that way as well. Like I have, mom, I have this, just the way it sounded, just vernacular. Everything was changing so quickly. So long answer to a short question. But technology was the barrier and technology was also the solution. I think, Mike, as we go into remote learning 2.0 and address this in the future, should we ever be in this place again, we will take all of that and make it even better. Yeah, hopefully we don’t. Just to be clear that just in case we have a very wide and anecdotal research project going on here, so.

Mike Siciliano [00:22:08] Well, actually, Kristie, I’m gonna ask you to stick around for a little bit and we can talk about, you know, life at Santa Fe as we move forward. But before we go, Sarah and Cynthia, I’d love to hear from each of you. What’s been a big takeaway for you from remote learning, maybe something that you’re really proud of or something that you’ve learned, a way in which the kids have grown, just something that you’d like to share. That’s been a big takeaway for you from remote learning.

Cynthia Nixon [00:22:35] Yeah. I think for me, the biggest thing I took away from this is that we need balance. And so like we’ve been talking about before is we’ve got to get the academics in and keep that to a standard of excellence. And we also are wanting to make sure we continue the relationship with these students that is so down to our core here in Santa Fe. And I found that, you know, like Kristi said, after a couple weeks, you kind of had to take stock of where we were at and adjust. And for us, we really put a lot of effort and energy into making a lot of resources for our students. And we didn’t want to just throw out the YouTube, you know, videos that we find or whatever. And those can be super helpful. And we did sprinkle those through. But we really were purposeful about maintaining our face time with the students, whether it was at the same time on a live Zoom or whether the video that I posted for them was actually me and my voice and my talking. So that kind of helped encourage those with that relationship rather than here. Go watch someone on YouTube explain this. What that also did was free up our lives, Zoom time to be more of making that connection. You know, we ended up separating it. OK, we have subject love like subjects focused Zoom’s on these days and then on these days we just had our homerooms, one with our kids and that was time just for us to connect. I wasn’t teaching anything. We were talking about the reminders in the schedule and all of that. But really it was time for them all to check in with us. And how are you doing then? You know, all of those things. So that worked really well to kind of just find a balance between the two of those and also having those options for an office hour where I have, you know, one student who’s popping in to ask questions. And I think that was a really good thing we learned at the beginning is we need to give them a way that they can ask the questions so they don’t just get stalled. They knew that they could get a hold of us when they needed us. And I think that kind of helped for them, especially with parents, multiple kids. You know, you’ve got to go have some sort of time in the day where you have that flow going. It’s been fun to see. A lot of the parents are watching the videos and watching the Zoom along with their students and learning the math because they’re trying to help their student with the math at home. And it’s just been fun to get their feedback. You know, some of our office hours are not just students. We’ve got the parents and they’re with the student helping and learning the mathematics alongside them. So it’s been really great to see our parents just kind of dive into this and, you know, we’ve gotten a lot of e-mails back about, you know, I’m really realizing what kind of learner my child is. And I think all of this, while unexpected and stressful and everyone has just enabled our parents to get a little bit of a window into the kind of learner that their child is in a different way than they would normally. 

Mike Siciliano [00:25:18] Cynthia, maybe you can also speak to some of the really creative things that kind of emerged in remote learning. I know there’s a few that have been pretty fun.

Cynthia Nixon [00:25:27] Yeah. You know, we had to really think about how to kind of keep the creative juices flowing. You know, throughout. And so, you know, fifth grade, a big event that they look forward to every year is the idiom parade. And so in language arts, they’re learning about idioms and what those mean. And then we have a day where everybody dresses up as an idiom and it’s something they’ll look forward to. And then now we’re all at home and we can’t do this. So we figured, you know what? We’re gonna go for it. We’re gonna do the idiom day parade on Zoom and we’re just gonna have it. So all three teachers dressed up and we popped into all three of the different language arts Zoom for the fifth graders and all the fifth graders were dressed up. And so they had their chance on Zoom to show off their costume and, you know, explain their idiom and what that meant. And so, you know, things like I’m all ears, you know, one of the teachers had little ears that were cut out and pasted all over her. And I was under the weather. So I had all the weather icons floating above my head. So there’s just different things that we were able to do to keep that kind of thing alive for our students. You know, we also had game nights, so we had all the grade levels, K-5 every Thursday night at four. They would pop on and we had our student council kids from fifth grade leading in fourth grade, leading those game nights. And there was always a teacher who was, you know, in the lead as well. And we had different Zoom scavenger hunts and kids were racing around their homes and grabbing items, you know, find something black and white or things like that. There was also a bingo that they played. And so we just really kind of tried to keep up the fun of it. And it was really exciting to see, you know, what they did.

Mike Siciliano [00:26:59] Well, that’s amazing to hear. And I’m really glad that you shared some examples of what an idiom was. (laughter)

Mike Siciliano [00:27:07] I knew. I knew. But some of our listeners might not have heard that you did that. Sarah, have you any big takeaways from remote learning?

Mike Siciliano [00:27:17] So I would say my big takeaway, at least for upper school students, is allowing them choice and flexibility. And that was something that after a couple weeks I realized was really important. And it helped them to put forth their best effort and be more engaged. So I had my ninth graders had a choice novel unit, which a lot of them really enjoyed getting to pick their own novel. Most of my assignments during the week, they had four options and I tried to have a variety of options. So one that was maybe more creative, artistic, one that included having a discussion on the phone with a friend and then sending me those notes, one that was kind of more straightforward. So you’re going to take notes or write a paragraph on this. And that seemed to work really well. And they felt like they had more freedom, especially considering how overwhelming and knew most of remote learning is for them. I think my other takeaway, besides giving them choice and flexibility, is just making sure to check in with them as humans, checking in on the workload, checking in on how they’re doing, making sure but in a really stressful time that they know we’re there for them and that that’s our number one priority, not necessarily them completing their work and turning it in on time. 

Mike Siciliano [00:28:42] And, you know, it’s interesting, as I listened to you say that Sarah thinking through kind of watching the kids start in this place of all the flexibility and self-directed time being overwhelming to watching them grow into seeing that flexibility and self-direction as actually someday make it be excited about her and kind of own it. And I think that’s one of the things that’s come out of remote learning. Cynthia, have you heard any stories of our students reaching out, doing anything to care for the community during this time?

Cynthia Nixon [00:29:14] Yeah. You know, actually, our fifth graders had a big project and we were thinking of how can we just say thank you to our local health care heroes and all of our medical professionals who are out there in the midst of this. And I wanted the students to take a second to recognize it’s not all campouts in the living room and you know, staying up late and watching movies and learning from home, but that there are people out there on the front lines of this whole situation. And so I just said, hey, why don’t we just say thank you? And I knew that we didn’t necessarily want to be mailing, you know, all the contamination and everything. So I had the kids just submit digitally. And my sister in law has a friend who works at Sharp. And I said, hey, if I had some letters, like, how could we get those to you? And it really kind of started a whole thing. Where we’ve we’ve now had multiple grade levels involved in sending thank you notes over to Sharp Grossmont and they’ve printed out all of the notes and letters and put them up in one of the break rooms so that the doctors and nurses can see those. And it kind of really sparked something in some of our fifth graders. And they were really excited and it turned into what we have called Operation Appreciation. And so every week, as part of their like Bible time in class, they really took some time to think about who are the people who are out there still working while we get to be at home safe. And they’ve written letters and sent thank you’s to, you know, grocery stores. And we talked about fire stations and police stations. And, you know, kids are making chalk art and posters for the delivery people, you know, that are coming to their homes to deliver all the things that are getting delivered right now. And, you know, it just really hit home for some of them, especially and we have a lot of family members of our fifth graders who are medical professionals. So I think that sparked as well. But just the outpouring of wanting to show their gratefulness to others that came from it was was really neat and sharp, was so appreciative. And the students kind of got to see a little bit of, you know, they took 15, 20 minutes to write a thank you or drop poster. And it really made a difference for a lot of people. So they were able to kind of see how just a few minutes of being kind and thinking outside of yourself really made someone’s day. And so it was really neat for them to see what came from that.

Mike Siciliano [00:31:29] That’s awesome. I love hearing stories like that. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Siciliano [00:31:34] I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you so much, Sarah, Cynthia, and Kristi. And, also, just thank you for all of the work that you’ve done. Being amazing, remote-learning teachers on short notice. 

Guests [00:31:45] Of course, thank you Mike.

Mike Siciliano [00:23:31] This has been the Eagle Perspective, for the latest official news and updates on all things Santa Fe Christian you can always visit our website SFCS.net. There’s a link at the top right for COVID-19 updates. So all of the latest news and information will always be there. 

Mike Siciliano [00:23:48] If you’re just getting to know our community and you have more questions, you want to know us better. Our admissions department is open. There are virtual tours available. You can always reach out and talk to an admissions ambassador. They’d love to get to know you and introduce you to our school on a more personal level. Thanks for listening and now we hope to see you on campus very soon.