Dear Woodward Families,
Welcome back to school! I know that’s an interesting sentiment because school as we know it is going to be different from anything we’ve ever experienced, the end of last year notwithstanding. Woodward Staff have been working hard over the summer to use the lessons learned from last spring’s experience as a basis for creating a better version of continuous learning. Working with other BISD staff, our key takeaways were that students and families would benefit from streamlined communication, greater consistency amongst our online classroom platforms, and improved connections in our learning community.
For these three weeks leading up to school, BISD teachers have been learning to better leverage our core set of instructional technology tools. This will lead to consistency of Google Classroom setup along with a variety of creative uses for engaging students. Staff are also learning to better leverage Zoom for class meetings and to improve our skills with Screencastify for delivering more engaging direct instruction. Staff will also be better prepared to help students organize and collaborate around their online learning activities in the suite of Google Drive tools.
This year, we will also be providing more structure for our students by having consistent times that teachers meet with classes for instruction and learning activities. Woodward students will start their online school day at 8:05am and end by 2:35pm. We’re planning brain breaks and time for students to check-in with teachers for individual help. There are a few other pieces in the works that will be finalized by next week, so stay tuned for a detailed daily schedule!
The big question on everyone’s minds is, “What are my students' classes going to be?” Right now, I can tell you that every student will have six classes, starting with the same four core classes: their appropriate level of Math, Science, History, and Language Arts. Students will also have two periods of electives, based on the choices that they made during spring registration. We are able to offer all of our regular electives from previous years, though some will need to be modified for online instruction. We are still in the process of scheduling students in a way that will allow us to easily pivot from Continuous Learning to Hybrid Learning once we are able to safely bring students back into the building. We will have these student schedules ready for families to view in Skyward by the end of the day on Monday, August 31.
We are also organizing an opportunity for families to come pick up any necessary materials from school (in an appropriately safe way), and the details about this will be coming next week.
There are many other details that are going to be finalized and shared next week, but I wanted to share this information with you now so that you could start picturing what the year will look like. Even though these are uncertain and unprecedented times, we are confident that the school experience that we are so carefully preparing will help your student get a great education and the best social experience possible.
As you may know, this is my first year as principal of Woodward Middle School. And, what an unusual time to start leading a new school! Fortunately, this is my tenth year as a middle school principal, and I’m already learning that the Woodward Staff is strong, professional, and interested in putting student needs at the center of our decision making. I’m so impressed with the “can do” attitude and creative thinking that I’ve seen this summer. I know this is going to be great year!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I may not have all the answers yet, but I’m certainly willing to help you as best as I can.