Transparency has been a hot topic this week. Primarily due to news of a positive COVID-19 test–a result that turned out, as we now know, to be a false positive, with the subsequent tests being negative (the flipping of values that makes a negative result a good thing and a positive test a nightmare continues to perturb me). The impromptu intrusion of that case on Sunday morning triggered a series of emails and phone calls as we worked to inform the community of the situation without infringing on the legal right to privacy of those affected. The principle of transparency, as always, guided us in our communication. It came down to one question: do parents have the facts they need to make an informed decision about whether their child is safe coming to school tomorrow? Your feedback on this matter is appreciated because it allows us to refine our communication and to be better prepared for similar situations should they, unfortunately, arise.
The question of your child’s safety and our transparency is always on our minds; it motivates us to provide you with the most precise information we can in a factual and reassuring manner. Our aim is to extend that same approach to every aspect of your child’s education. And that’s what we have been endeavoring to do over the past few months, as you may (I hope!) have started to notice. We now write to families once a week–on Mondays–with all of the information, dates, and reminders you need in one consolidated email. The same goes for our staff; they receive an update on Wednesdays and one newsletter a week from their Maternelle, Elementary, or Middle School coordinator. The objective remains the same: to share everything we can with the community in one easy-to-locate email (if it doesn’t end up in your Promotions inbox that is!).
Google Classroom & Seesaw
This crucial communication effort would be useless if we were not completely transparent about what constitutes the heart of our profession: what happens in the classroom. That very topic was the centerpiece of the two parent meetings that took place this week: Kyle Hack’s Middle School meeting on Monday and Benoit Brisset’s Maternelle and Elementary meeting on Tuesday. We discussed Google Classroom and Seesaw respectively, two tools that, like any other, require user manuals to figure them out, to help us understand what they can do and how best to use them. First and foremost, they are extensions of our work. They are tools that allow us to share more pedagogical resources and centralize those resources in one easy-to-use place. They allow us to track children’s progress, monitor how they grow and evolve, and help them become more autonomous. And they are tools that allow us to reflect together on the right pedagogical directions to take in the future.
Tools of Transformation
Like all good tools, once everyone feels comfortable using them, they will gradually transform the nature of our work and the relationships we cultivate. That transformation should be seen against the backdrop of transparency, and it rests on three pillars. Pillar one: studies have shown over and over again that student success at school is greatly enhanced when their families are well-informed of and actively participate in what is going on at school. Pillar two: schools have everything to gain from pillar one and need to reinvent themselves and learn how to share their expertise and the real results of their work–to go beyond merely hyping pass rates and GPAs. Finally, pillar three–and this one is not true of all schools–at The École we can and should be extremely proud of the work and the projects that are carried out in class.
Last week I said that confidence is not something that can be declared; it must be built. Transparency on the other hand is something that is decided on. It’s definitely too soon to say “Off with the masks!” but I want us to put our best face forward!
Wishing you all an excellent weekend!