On March 18th, 2020, my principal pulled me into a gathering with the superintendent, principals, and assistant principals from different excessive colleges within the district. I knew this assembly was essential after I noticed all the opposite directors.
The primary phrases out of my principal’s mouth have been, “we could have to shut the college down for a number of days.” After listening to this information, I used to be shocked and nervous; we’d by no means needed to shut the college so abruptly earlier than. Shortly after, the assembly delved right into a dialogue in regards to the safer-at-home orders instituted in LA County and the way the college would enact these orders. Initially, we thought college closures would final per week, at most. Nevertheless, as everyone knows, it has lasted for much longer.
Because the safer-at-home orders prolonged from one week to 1 month to an indefinite time, I turned extra involved in regards to the college students and the way the college closure would have an effect on them. As well as, I nervous about whether or not we’d meet our college students’ educational, emotional, and social wants, particularly for college kids that attend a non-traditional college.
All through the pandemic, discussions about supporting college students have centered on conventional, complete colleges. The normal, complete colleges are the place most college students get an training. The scholars attend college Monday via Friday from 8 am to three pm. Nevertheless, not all college students attend a complete college. There are additionally college students who attend another college as a result of the excellent college didn’t meet their particular wants.
As an educator who works in another college, I imagine you will need to share how different colleges help college students all through the pandemic and perceive the experiences of the college workers and college students from these colleges.
One Various Schooling Mannequin: Alta Vista Innovation Excessive Faculty
I’m an Assistant Principal at Alta Vista Innovation Excessive Faculty (AVIHS), positioned in an city space of Los Angeles, California. AVIHS follows an unbiased examine mannequin of education. Unbiased examine is a hybrid of self-directed studying the place the coed guides their studying pathway and the continuation mannequin, a extra individualized curriculum with instruction in smaller class sizes). Below an unbiased examine mannequin, college students are motivated by their very own wants and targets whereas being supported and guided by a trainer offering an individualized curriculum.
AVIHS serves 500 highschool college students ages 14 to 24. Most of those college students are referred to the college by district counselors, probation officers, or social service companies. The scholar physique mirrors the group AVIHS serves; nonetheless, it focuses on credit score poor college students at-risk of dropping out of highschool. Listed below are another notable traits and identities represented in our scholar physique:
- 99% qualify totally free and diminished meals
- Many college students come from traditionally and racially marginalized backgrounds, together with 42% Black and African college students and 50% Hispanic and Latino college students
- 33% of the scholars are between the ages of 18 to 24
- 20% are English Language Learners
- 15% are college students with particular wants
- 10% are dad and mom
The scholar demographics mirror that the scholars attending AVIHS want greater than educational help. Due to these demographics, AVIHS turned a Workforce Innovation and Alternative Act (WIOA) college and partnered with an out of doors company to help our college students with part-time employment as they earn their highschool diplomas.
On account of these partnerships, our college students should not have to decide on between incomes a highschool diploma or working to offer for his or her households. Our companions present our college students with the chance to work whereas making certain their educational progress is just not interrupted. Moreover, our companions and AVIHS collaborate to verify that college students are on the trail to commencement. Below these partnerships, our college students blossom, attend college constantly, and full educational credit whereas working. Then, the pandemic hit. The varsity closure and transition to distant studying affected our college students like many others all through the nation. Nevertheless, many working college students noticed their hours diminished or positions eradicated.
For sure, our college students have been searching for solutions and it was as much as us to offer options that may assist them navigate this case.
Assist Via the Pandemic
Because the safer-at-home orders prolonged into the 2019-2020 college 12 months got here to an finish, the management staff met to debate how we’d help our college students. After the assembly, we determined to create a process drive that included the college management staff, workers, and college students. As we gathered views from process drive members, we concluded that it was important to give attention to three key areas: monetary help, educational help, and psychological help.
- Monetary Assist: We agreed that it was essential to assist college students discover safe job alternatives, particularly people who misplaced employment through the pandemic. Via our WIOA partnerships, we established an inside internship alternative to show college students how you can make the most of Tik Tok and different social media as a advertising instrument by creating movies for the college. College students have been paid to create video content material for our college’s social media accounts. Moreover, we offered meal packages that college students might both decide up from the college or somebody from the management staff would drop it off at their house. By specializing in these two areas, we have been in a position to make sure that college students weren’t placing themselves and their households in danger by leaving their houses to work, and it additionally offered our college students with cash that they may use as they noticed match.
- Educational Assist: Along with scholar funds, we additionally needed to ensure college students might meet their instructional targets. Whereas all college students in Los Angeles attended college remotely, lots of our college students have been additionally supporting their youthful siblings or kids. Figuring out this, we realized an 8 am to three pm college schedule wouldn’t work. To fight this problem, our college workers turned versatile to fulfill the wants of our college students. We expanded our hours for college kids; academics started working chunked shifts that met the wants of the scholars’ schedules. Some academics cut up their day by day schedules by working within the mornings (8 to 11 am) and later within the evenings (5 to eight pm). Others opened up the weekend hours and taught college students Saturdays and Sundays.
- Psychological Assist: Lastly, we addressed psychological well being. Our college counselors offered skilled developments to our academics and college workers on trauma-informed practices and how you can greatest help our college students throughout this time. We additionally partnered with Care Solace to offer our college students with any extra psychological well being help that our college students and their households wanted exterior of the college.
Specializing in the general scholar and the three elements of economic, educational, and psychological help ensured our college students knew we have been dedicated to their general wellbeing.
Creating Options for Each Scholar
Colleges have all the time been, for my part, a secure place for college kids; it’s the place college students obtain help to help their educational targets, psychological wellbeing, and day by day sustenance that some can not entry at house. Fortunately, probably the most vital change I’ve seen through the pandemic is that colleges have accelerated the tempo at which they adapt to fulfill the wants of their college students. Nevertheless, there may be extra that we will do.
The pandemic has bolstered that there is no such thing as a such factor as a one-size-fits-all method to supporting college students. Every scholar has their very own wants, a few of which can’t be met if our options solely give attention to conventional colleges and scholar populations. That’s the reason we should share extra data and greatest practices throughout our colleges. The extra we share about what colleges are doing – each conventional and different – the higher we will help college students.