Friday, July 9, 2021
Fourth grader Rabi was eager for the virtual check-in with his teacher, Jasmine Ahmed, to begin. He had exciting news to share. “My soccer season was about to start, and I couldn’t wait to tell her,” he says. Rabi also wanted to ask about a lesson they’d recently covered in class. “I was confused about some of the math, and I knew that she could help me figure it out.”
Harlem Academy’s weekly individual check-ins began last year in response to the pandemic. With the switch to distance learning, maintaining a one-on-one connection between teachers and students became more critical than ever.
“During a normal school year, we’d all sit together during morning meeting and students would share insights from their life,” says Ms. Ahmed. “We wanted to create the same environment during remote learning. Individual check-ins were one of the most important parts of the school day,” she says.
Rabi’s mother, Legah Kokouet, agrees. “I liked that Rabi’s teacher asked how he was doing and what was going on in his life. Education is not just about math and science. Students also need to feel a connection to their teachers. It’s important to their overall wellbeing.”
Now that the school year is over, school counselor Emma Baber is connecting with parents during the summer, offering support based on each family’s individual needs and helping to avoid summer slide – a decline in academic skills that can happen when children are out of school. “Kids need as much opportunity to practice during the summer as they have while in school,” she says.
Students have a personalized education plan for the summer, including books to read and skills to practice on IXL, a K-12 online learning platform. “Before the school year ended, we talked about continuing to build our skills throughout the summer,” says Ms. Baber.
Students were also given a blank calendar to fill out and hang up at home. “They jotted down what they were going to do on certain days, such as reading or working on math skills,” says Ms. Baber, who will continue to check in with families this summer to see how things are going. “After such a challenging year, we want our families to know that we are here for them.”