Redwood Day is an independent, diverse K-8 coed school | 510.534.0800
RDConnects General Overview
This handbook contains information that you need for a successful distance learning experience in the RDConnects@Home program. For background information, in March 2020, Redwood Day launched our distance learning program in response to the State of California Shelter-in-Place order (SIP); the School concluded the academic year in June 2020 in distance learning due to the continuation of the SIP. Over these three months, we sought feedback from various constituencies (parents/guardians, faculty/staff, and students) via surveys and emails to learn about areas of strength and growth for the program. Over the summer, while we worked on our reopening plan for in-person instruction, we concurrently worked on redesigning our distance learning program to be more responsive to all constituencies’ needs.
There are five pillars to the RDConnects@Home distance learning program;
Meeting learning benchmarks at each grade level
Developmentally appropriate screen time and expectations
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Emphasis on students’ social and emotional well being
Our K-8 curriculum is benchmarked to the highest education standards in all core and specialist disciplines. We continually review our curriculum and make adjustments based on current research about how children learn best. RDConnects@Home has been thoughtfully designed to ensure that we continue to deliver our curriculum synchronously and asynchronously, such that when our students can transition back to in-person instruction, this transition is as smooth as possible. Additionally, our program is designed to “mirror” our learning expectations for in-person instruction, thus ensuring that while students are engaged in learning via RDConnects@Home, they continue to meet and/or exceed the learning benchmarks in each discipline/subject. For each grade level, there are standardized expectations for the number of synchronous and asynchronous lessons in each discipline/subject to ensure our curriculum is fully covered as it would be in-person.
Our distance learning class schedules have been designed to take into account developmentally appropriate needs and abilities at each grade level. Kindergarten students have very different needs when it comes to online learning as compared to 8th graders. No students, regardless of age, can sustain multiple hours of screen time. As we do in person, students will experience large/small group and individualized instruction, and office hours to connect with teachers and advisors. Students will also have breaks (mirroring recess) and lunch, so they have an appropriate amount of down-time to refuel and energize for their next session of learning. Many lessons will be taught live for a minimum of 20 minutes; others will be pre-recorded for students. Teachers and Specialists will employ a variety of teaching methodologies and learning management systems (LMS) to keep students engaged with their learning. We have also designed behavior guidelines and expectations for learning via RDConnects@Home, similar to our expectations on campus during in-person learning.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are pillars of our educational program. Whether we are learning together in-person or virtually, our commitment to DEI runs deep in the fabric of who we are as a school. In many ways, our work as a community in these areas is perhaps more important now than ever. We are committed to engaging in these conversations with our students, helping them to critically think about issues, and develop their own ideas about how they can be change agents for a more equitable and just world.
While we are learning in the RDConnects@Home program, some ways in which we are incorporating this pillar in our planning include: working to ensure all students have access to technology to participate in the program, providing time for every family to meet with their teacher/advisor for a mini-conference during the first week of school, continuing our Equity and Inclusion and Affinity Group programming for students, ensuring students have “windows” and “mirrors” as they see themselves and their families reflected at school, maintaining the high caliber of our Learning Services program for students with identified learning differences, and continuing to create educational and participatory opportunities for parents/guardians to engage in the School’s DEI programming.
We recognize that while students are learning at home it is quite challenging to provide all of the social and emotional support that we would normally provide in person. The ability to read human emotions online is quite different compared to in person. If a student is upset and needs a moment to regroup or if a student wants to connect with a teacher for a few minutes after class, we’re able to provide that space in person. Students eat lunch together and play together during recess and breaks. In building RDConnects@Home, we have considered ways to provide the social and emotional support that our students need; some of these supports may look different than in person, but our goals are the same. Additionally, our School Counselor, Lucy Ridgway, will continue to be available to students in the RDConnects@Home program.
RDConnects@Home includes opportunities for community building in both the Lower and Middle School programs. This was one of the areas for improvement that we focused on most while building our new distance learning program. Students will build community with each other via Morning Meetings, assemblies, Equity and Inclusion Groups, lunchtime social sessions, and a set-aside Community Day in the Middle School program for student-led activities, Middle School Gathering, and other important opportunities for building community.