Virtual Learning Report

2019-2020 Annual Report

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You Spoke

“Sometimes, I do the assignments and I am not sure if my work is what the teachers want. More feedback is helpful for me.”

On April 6, 2020, MMSD’s first day of virtual learning, we entered new territory together. And we learned together. In partnership with our students, families, and staff, we faced the challenges that virtual learning posed with patience, compassion, and out-of-the-box thinking. 

We have always known that virtual learning in the spring would be imperfect. And we’ve known that learning from the experiences of students and teachers would be invaluable as we make adjustments for the future. 

One key piece of evidence we have relied on to help us evaluate the successes and challenges of virtual learning is a set of surveys sent to all families, grades 3-12 students, and all teaching staff.

We Listened

Between May 26 and June 7, we heard from more than 13,000 individuals. This feedback helped us refine and improve upon virtual learning for the future. From the survey results, we took away some promising levers for “driving” improvements, including supporting frequent and meaningful connection, strengthening our guidance, and creating robust learning experiences.

Our Instructional Continuity Plan for the 2020-21 school year features more robust guidance for staff related to several of these key drivers. This includes more frequent synchronous learning experiences, revised policies regarding grading and attendance, a comprehensive new assessment strategy, and expanded guidance for staff regarding remote learning platforms and practices.

We also expanded our professional development to include 9 days of learning dedicated to developing and strengthening the critical knowledge and skills needed to provide all students with a positive, rigorous virtual learning experience grounded in anti-racist principles.

Analysis of family and student feedback indicates that more frequent connection is related to greater satisfaction and feelings of support. Qualitative feedback indicates that meaningful connection is most important - examples include instruction, feedback on assignments, and authentic social and emotional engagement.</p>
<p>While many families, students, and staff indicated that they felt supported during Virtual Learning, they also expressed some concern regarding the extent to which students’ academic needs were being met in the spring. Key challenges raised by respondents centred on engaging students, maintaining high expectations for learning, and ensuring that instruction remained rigorous.</p>
<p>Analysis of feedback indicated that when respondents were more secure in the guidance surrounding Virtual Learning, they tended to feel more supported and satisfied. Teachers indicated that their experiences would have improved with more focused development around remote learning. Similarly, students and families appreciated clear guidance regarding how to access VL, and expectations for student learning.</p>
<p>Virtual Office Hours for<br />
Teachers and Staff<br />
Teachers and other instructional staff will schedule “office hours” each day, to allow for focused time to connect with families and built stronger relationships with students. </p>
<p>More Frequent Synchronous<br />
Learning Experiences<br />
In the fall, each school will establish a schedule creating multiple opportunities each week for “face-to-face”, synchronous learning opportunities using platforms like Zoom. Teachers are also encouraged to supplement using pre-recorded videos to help foster relationships. </p>
<p>Comprehensive Assessment Plan<br />
Central office staff will support school leaders and teachers as they use data to understand students’ needs and accelerate their learning. Teachers will use formative assessments to gauge students’ understanding of content at least twice per week<br />
as VL continues.</p>
<p>Revising Grading and<br />
Attendance Policies<br />
While maintaining a focus on ensuring students’ well-being, teachers will resume grading students using practices that produce consistent, accurate, and transparent reflections of our students’ progress towards mastery of standards and skills. Similarly, attendance will be recording students’ attendance and participation daily.</p>
<p>New Vision for Continuing PD<br />
Beginning with “Welcome Back”, MMSD will initiate a new plan for staff development, with a focus on deepening the areas that are essential to ensuring equitable instruction and access for students, including prioritizing academic and social emotional learning standards and reimagining instruction to accelerate learning.</p>
<p>Developed New Instructional<br />
Continuity Plan<br />
Responding to feedback from families, students, and staff, MMSD created a new Instructional Continuity Plan to guide Virtual Learning in fall ‘20. It includes more robust guidance regarding many aspects of Virtual Learning, including communication with families, instructional expectations, and guidance for staff across roles.<br />