BY DR. KURT STEINHAUS
Los Alamos Public Schools
The Public Education Department Secretary’s announcement today that “there is a strong likelihood that school will be closed for the remainder of the year”, we have a plan to help you and your children. It is called innovative LA learning. The idea is to keep the minds of Los Alamos Public Schools students engaged with creative, age-appropriate and constructive activities. While this is a time of uncertainty and challenge, it is a moment in history filled with unlimited opportunities for new learning. In fact, the amazing LAPS staff have already come up with constructive ways to work from home while being productive and sharing joy and humor.
Innovative LA learning uses creative solutions and flexibility to help students meet important learning goals. The teaching will include lessons that are shared with students synchronously and asynchronously.
March 23-27: While teachers and principals were on Spring Break, district leadership worked on 1) planning for remote learning and technology support; 2) reviewing strategies in the LAPS Healthy Schools Initiative, 3) contacting families that need help with internet access and computing devices, 4) updating websites, and 5) collecting learning resources for teachers, parents and students.
March 30-April 3: LAPS staff will be 1) developing additional learning strategies and roll-out details, 2) providing professional development for staff, 3) developing additional communications, 4) beginning one-on-one checking in with students and families and 5) distributing learning packets and computing devices to parents, as needed.
April 6: Begin daily implementation of innovative LA learning with these suggestions for daily student time:
Pre-K: 30 minutes on developmentally appropriate learning activities, 15 minutes listening to a story
Grades K-1: 45 minutes on developmentally appropriate learning activities, 20 minutes listening to stories
Grades 2-3: 60 minutes on developmentally appropriate learning activities, 20 minutes reading
Grades 4-6: 90 minutes on lessons including specials – art, music and library, 30 minutes reading
Grades 7-12: 30 minutes per teacher (3 hours max in a day)
It’s Not All About Screens – Social emotional learning is even more important during this shift to more learning time at home. It can be easy for students to spend a lot of time in front of screens. As much as possible, we will provide students with tasks that get them up and moving and away from their devices. We will also make adjustments based upon Maslo’s Hierarchy of Needs. If a student is worried about safety and food, it will be very difficult for them to concentrate on school work.
Teacher and Principal Office Hours – In addition to asynchronous and live classes, our principals and teachers will post times for daily office hours. This enables students and parents to contact their teacher for help as they’re doing their schoolwork, and it helps our teachers maintain regular schedules.
These are exceptional times that require patience and understanding from students, parents, staff and community members. We are going to be gentle with ourselves and students, forgiving, and adjust along the way. We are a continuous improvement school district. Keeping the learning going at home requires major adjustments for teachers and students. Knowing the LAPS staff, we will rise to the challenge. Next week, please watch for communications from your school principal and teachers.