With COVID numbers spiking in CT, with less than 24-hours notice, Watkinson teachers and students recently had to pivot to virtual schooling for a two-week span. While there were some hiccups along the way, there were also bright spots. Teachers reported, “I saw my students’ full faces for the first time this year!” And, we are proud to say the hiccups were few. How is it that an organization of 350 individuals can switch its entire mode of operation, seemingly on a dime? What characteristics are deeply embedded in the community’s DNA to make that possible?
First time visitors to Watkinson often remark on the friendly atmosphere here. The heart of that is the commitment to personalization that is a hallmark of a Watkinson education. Here, students and teachers build relationships on mutual respect, borne out in advisory, clubs, teams, and of course, the classroom. Each student is known, seen, and celebrated for the strengths and gifts they bring to the classroom and the campus. It is, therefore, not surprising that these strong relationships are able to be carried to a virtual space. Watkinson students feel comfortable participating in classroom discussions or projects via Google Meet as they trust that the teacher and their classmates have their best interest in mind. And, since every class meets synchronously just as frequently as classes would meet when we are on campus, there is a continuity that is happening in the relationships….even virtually.
Watkinson’s tagline is “inventive learning since 1881”. As a tagline is intended to convey who we are at an umbrella level, let’s unpack the word inventive — it implies creativity, collaboration, resourcefulness, and adaptability. If these are some of the most amplified traits of Watkinson, then it is not surprising that our teachers are able to move to a virtual space well. There is almost an implied willingness in our school’s culture that no matter what the world throws at us, we will teach and teach well. Our faculty has taken full science labs into virtual schooling!
Additionally, we are a progressive school that embraces multiple forms of assessment. This too has served both teachers and students well and everyone in the classroom is well versed in teaching and learning, showing and telling, explaining and understanding in myriad modalities.
I am proud of my school, my colleagues, and my students. Together, we are hunkering down and doing meaningful work…despite the constraints of COVID.