April 24, 2020

Dear Harbor Families,

As we all have adjusted to a new model of work and parenting, things have changed for every one of us, in different ways. I'm sure it has crossed your mind what it must be like for a teacher to be suddenly teaching outside of the physical classroom - rethinking class routines, modes of instruction, and resources for instruction. And of course, like everyone, our teachers have home lives as varied as our families, each with its distinct challenge.

I have repeatedly said, and will say it again, how impressed I have been with our faculty and staff. Our teachers have been creative, flexible, positive, and resourceful in finding ways to create an enriching educational experience, in partnership with parents, in this new way of teaching and learning. They are an incredibly talented group of professionals, who have demonstrated their commitment and professionalism over and over again in the past weeks.

Yesterday, I asked our teachers to respond to a series of prompts to share their thoughts and experiences with distance learning. Here are some of their reflections:

  • I was surprised about how much of our program we could incorporate into distance learning. I am amazed at how everything has come together, and how we are able to keep some semblance of a normal week of school at Harbor.
  • As teachers, I think we are all naturally creative.¬†Distance learning has required a different kind of creativity, learning to use technology in a different way, and finding new ways to stay connected to our students.¬†
  • I miss the live interaction with the children. I miss the collegiality with the staff; the immediacy of really being together. On the positive side, I have learned a lot, and I have had to be very deliberate, intentional, and thoughtful in my teaching.
  • I have been surprised by what you can achieve remotely, and the motivation of families helping to make it work!
  • Distance learning has changed the way I interact with my students. Since we cannot physically be in school together, we have had to create non-tangible ways to connect. Through these discoveries, I have been even more grateful for the relationships I have made with my students.
  • The most challenging thing is that nothing can replace being in the classroom with our students. Being right next to a student, working with them, seeing them achieve a goal or try something new - being able to give them a high five or a hug. The most enjoyable thing is seeing my class every morning on Zoom, and seeing a different side of their personality that comes out when they are in the comfort of their own home. I also love seeing the creative ways they complete assignments.
  • I am learning about all different kinds of ways to teach and this has been great since we all learn differently! I have to be even more creative in the ways I utilize my teaching tools and have discovered even more teaching tools.
  • I have been surprised at how well components of our program have translated to distance learning. For example, being able to successfully complete a full Reader's Workshop unit during these times has felt truly amazing to me. Using Seesaw as a platform for a unit that relies heavily on feedback, authentic student interaction, and the revision process speaks to the strength of our program.
  • What is challenging? Not being with the kids every day in person. Not being able to share their smiles, laughter, and joy in learning and just being with each other. Not interacting with staff and my co-workers.
  • What is enjoyable? Learning new ways to do things (yes, it's challenging as well). Seeing another side of the kids at home. Seeing their posts and being able to respond right away to their work as it's posted. Knowing that we are offering an amazing and rich product to our kids. We are continuing the learning in a meaningful way albeit different.

The week after next, we will be recognizing Teacher Appreciation Week at Harbor. The Parents Association will share ways you can express your gratitude for their dedication and commitment to our students, so keep an eye out for a communication from our PA.

In the meantime, as a fellow parent, I will speak for all of us and say THANK YOU, teachers, for all that you are doing to support and educate our kids!


Leah Musico

Head of School

The Harbor School

Harbor School