Learning is continuing at Memorial Junior High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, thanks in part to the relationships teachers built with their students prior to school closures.
Before the closure, on Mondays, students participated in a day of mentoring with their teacher. This is continuing now virtually. Each teacher helps their mentees set goals, shares expectations for assignments, assists with technology issues and questions, and explains the way projects are graded. This virtual classroom time is a way for students to learn what they need to know for the week and have a ‘home base’ where they feel comfortable.
Since beginning these Monday mentor check-ins, we have found that relationships with teachers and mentors have grown and helped to support student well-being. Students and parents are staying connected with mentors. Some students want to discuss the challenges of being at home and physically isolated from their peers. Parents talk about the stresses they are feeling with all these changes. For many families, having these mentor relationships already established has been calming and comforting during these uncertain times. Mentors can also offer information about resources available in our community to help families cope.
What has been most refreshing is that a good percentage of students are not requiring additional motivation from their teachers to keep working and progressing – they have decided to do so themselves. Students are continuing to complete their assignments and work on projects, rather than stopping because the school building is closed. Students have developed strong, goal-oriented mindsets over the course of their Summit Learning experience, and remote learning has given us definitive proof of how our student population will take positive attitudes and growth mindsets with them as they move into high school.
Because of the culture we built with our students and parents, students are self-directing to continue taking ownership of their learning, and are showing resilience to not physically being in the school building. Student progress is celebrated from afar through chat messages, video conferences, and virtual high-fives. Our students’ experience with and consistent use of Summit Learning demonstrates a foundational belief in themselves and how they can work independently.