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Taking Stock

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Dear TLS Community,   

This past week brought both highlights and struggle as our community continues to adapt. Each of our teaching teams added new routines and experiences to our Connected Learning Program. Our Student Support Team offered its first evening Parent Support Workshop and published our Parent Support website page. We celebrated Earth Day in our classrooms, with our specialists and at our CommUNITY Sing. We launched our live CommUNITY sessions. We honored the school and its community at our first-ever virtual auction, raising over $85,000 for financial aid. These are all wonderful examples of the ways we are evolving our programs and community engagement online.  

Many of us also hit a new phase of isolation, frustration or pain with the ongoing reality of the pandemic. We wanted more Zoom, less Zoom, different Zoom--- more information, less email, more clarity, more compassion. Some of us worried that we couldn’t continue to endure the quarantine. Some of us mourned not being able to be together and felt the pain of missing one another during important moments. In my own home, saying goodbye to a dear and important friend who lost his battle to cancer added deep sadness to the week.  

While we are sharing the broad experience of the pandemic, our community is highly diverse and our families’ individual circumstances are as well. It’s easy to think of our successes and frustrations as universal when they are highly personal and deserve a personal level of support. This week, I have heard from families wanting increased spaces to provide feedback and dialogue. Several have reached out to ask that questions be heard. Many of you have shared successes or challenges with your students at home, often to connect around ways to support our kids. Some families have expressed interest in understanding more about the impact to school finances and plans for next year. 

We want to make sure that we are creating the requested spaces for questions and feedback. Sharing your child’s experiences helps us continue to iterate and adapt. It’s also important that we express an expectation that feedback be expressed honestly, but with kindness and compassion. There is so much that is new in the current situation, and it makes sense that we feel stretched, curious, frustrated, and like some of our needs are not being met. These are the same conditions that can make us feel defensive or like hard work is being disregarded. Creating space for authentic feedback demands a large amount of trust, clear agreements around respect and care, and mutual positive regard to be used with integrity and kindness. We need each other to get this right for our kids, and we are committed to this work, and the ways we’ll learn even from mistakes we make along the way. This is the kind of community we can be. 

This week, we are taking the following steps to increase opportunities for feedback and questions: 

  • Sending an all-school survey regarding Connected Learning on Wednesday. 
  • Launching a digital suggestion box. 
  • Publishing a Connected Learning Handbook. We’ll also add an FAQ page to our Connected website that addresses financial decisions and approaches, plans for next year, decision making regarding safety and re-opening, support for families and faculty through extended closure, ideas around continued communication and our approach to program assessment and evolution.  
  • Scheduling a town hall session for Woods and Cedars families at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night, April 26 and a session for Meadows families on Wednesday night, April 27 at 8:00 p.m. 

As we progress, we will continue to explore other forums for public dialogue. Heading into this week, I encourage you to take a moment and look at how far we’ve all come since closure. Notice how your family has adapted. Acknowledge successful parenting strategies you’ve employed, ask questions of one another about new ideas and let go of frustration for the ones that failed. Narrate for your children the ways you are seeing them adapt and appreciate their resilience and moments of newly discovered independence. Notice how the faculty have worked to openly communicate and respond to you and your students. Our teachers are working tirelessly to support your children and families. We know that you are working incredibly hard too. Thank you for your partnership and care.