Teaching and Learning

The school district calendar includes two staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the district will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration.

As we enter the new school year, teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school, and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.

When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs.

Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice although formal, paper and pencil, or computer generated testing will not.

Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.

The school district‘s Advisory Team for Instruction will be examining and developing grading practices including numeric, a standards-based framework, and methods designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. Grading practices may vary (as they do now) from elementary, to middle, to high school.  At secondary, attention will be paid to SUPA and College in the High School courses and their grading requirements.

For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website at https://www.capitalregionboces.org/.

Parents / guardians will be surveyed the first two weeks in August to determine which students will return for in-person instruction and which will engage in remote learning.

In-person Instruction

Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart.

Accommodating a six-foot radius around students will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into classrooms.

Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing. All support personnel (reading, special education, social work service providers, teaching assistants and aides / monitors will, where appropriate, provide instruction, support, or supervision).

All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

Our schools will minimize the movement of students. At elementary, this  means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom or offered virtually.  Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.

To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.

For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.

At secondary (grades 6 – 12) student will be divided in to thirds and each third will receive two days of in-person instruction followed by four days of virtual instruction.  Students at the middle school will eat lunch at socially distanced desks in the large gym while students at the high school will eat lunch socially distanced in the cafeterials.  Movement for students in both settings will be minimized, masks will be required, and social distancing will be practiced.

For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

Remote/Hybrid Instruction

Given that our school district will offer a plan for hybrid instruction in grades 6 through 12, we are developing  a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.

Instruction will not only focus on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.

The Advisory Team for Instruction will endeavor to develop  student schedules that remain the same whether instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts where in synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.

Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with administration and teachers determining means to provide live instruction and lessons to students. While recording of live lessons may be essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.

To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, to the extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.

Grading practices will be developed by a subgroup of the advisory team for Instruction and will be shared with teachers, students, parents and guardians prior to the start of the new school year. For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.