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DISTANCE LEARNING: SPRING 2020

Miss Porter’s School has a curriculum focused on the development of skills and the cultivation of habits and mindsets, which lends itself more easily to alternative forms of learning. Our faculty, long-used to providing innovative and creative instruction, are well prepared for this moment. We already teach in ways that use time and space differently than a traditional model, and we regularly support individual students in unique circumstances. In the coming weeks and months, our goals, above all, are to provide stability, continuity, community, and support for our girls. While there will be challenges, we know that these challenges actually provide new and unexpected experiences for learning and growth.

Please email us with questions.

Here’s what to expect from the faculty, and what students need to do to prepare

Student Norms and expectations

Internet Connection

Students should assure that they have access to a reliable Internet connection. If this is an issue, please contact Susan Martell Jenkin in the Office of Equity and Inclusion at smartelljenkin@missporters.org.

Calendars, Email, Video-Conferencing, and Other Tools

In addition to the calendar and schedule on MyPorter’s, students should use the Google Calendar associated with their Miss Porter’s School Gmail account, particularly when setting up individual conferencing sessions with advisors and teachers.

Students should check their Miss Porter’s School Gmail regularly. All members of the community should endeavor to respond to emails within 24 hours during the school week (Mon-Fri).

Our primary tool for video-conferencing will be Zoom. Students should go to the website, create an account using their Miss Porter’s School Gmail, and download the appropriate software. Teachers will invite students to video-conferences by sending them Zoom links. Students can simply click the link to enter the video-conference. We will use Zoom for synchronous class meetings and for individual meetings. This document provides tips for Zoom attendees, including key terms, understanding a Zoom invitation, and how to join a meeting.

We are aware that any single technology platform might not always be reliable, so each teacher also has a GoToMeeting account, which can be used as an alternative to Zoom if need be, as can Google Hangouts.

Teachers will work with students to share guidelines around appropriate and effective video-conferencing behavior for individual classes.

Both our Google Suite tools and MyPorter’s can be used as collaborative spaces for work. If a student does not have access to Google due to governmental restriction, she should give her teachers and advisor an alternate email address, so that they can communicate with her and develop strategies that do not require access to Google.

A myriad of other tools exist for distance learning, and teachers choosing to use other tools will work with students to help them access these.

Screen-Sharing

During video-conferencing, students may be asked to “share” their screen so that the whole class can view it. Students sharing their screen should be mindful that they do not have windows open that they wouldn’t want others to see and should stop all notifications for other messages that might pop up. This can be done by turning notifications to “Do Not Disturb.”

Work Space

Students should set up a clean and professional work space, and should remember that when they are video-conferencing, they should not have personal items or background items in sight that they wouldn’t bring into a classroom. We also encourage students to prepare for class much as they would if on campus: consider how exercise, food, hydration, hygiene, sleep, and attire impact how present they can be in our online community.

Acceptable Use

Students are reminded that their use of technology must adhere to the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) as articulated at length in the Student Handbook, which can be accessed via the embedded link or the Dean of Students Resource Board on MyPorters.

ACADEMIC WORK

Curriculum and Work Expectations

Each teacher will provide students with an outline of class for the remainder of the spring. These outlines will include the following:

  • Topics covered / resources used
  • Expectations for the use of synchronous time
  • Expectations for the use of asynchronous time
  • Work needed to be completed to earn credit (i.e. assessments/deliverables)
  • Additional optional activities

These outlines will be posted in course pages on MyPorters along with assignments and updated topics pages with content.

Teachers will plan no more than 4.5 hours of work/activities for each class per week. This includes the two forty-five minute synchronous class meetings each week. This is equivalent to the combined class and homework time during the normal school year. This will amount to at most 22.5 (for 5 courses) to 31.5 (for 7 courses) hours of “school time” per week for students.

Teachers will plan based on what is essential for students to earn credit and be ready for next year.

Additionally, teachers will offer supplementary activities that students may opt in for.

Assessment, Feedback, and Grading

Teachers will continue to assess students, provide feedback, and assign grades. While assessments might be different, students will be given meaningful and challenging assignments with clear criteria for success. When possible, teachers will continue to provide standards-based feedback on all assignments.

Teachers will redefine their expectations for C.A.R.E. in a distance learning environment. Certain behaviors with regard to citizenship, agency, responsibility, and engagement may, in fact, be even more important when operating in a distance learning model.

We will adhere to a strict assessment calendar by department so that students do not get overloaded with work at any one point in time.

We know that students may encounter challenging circumstances, and as usual, will be flexible and work to adjust to meet individual needs. In all of these cases, proactive communication with teachers will be helpful.

AP, ECE, & SEL COURSES

Advanced Placement Courses

On March 20, College Board announced that there will be no in-person AP Exams for 2019-20. Instead, students will have the opportunity to select from one of two at-home testing dates for each AP course, or can choose to cancel their exam for no fee. At-home exams will be 45 minutes long and cover only topics typically covered by early March in AP courses. College Board has promised more information and testing dates by April 3 and urges students not to make any decisions until that point. They have also created many helpful online resources for students and teachers to use in their distance learning AP courses and we will be sure our teachers and students have access to these resources. Detailed information is posted and updated by College Board here.

Early College Experience (UConn)

UConn has been in touch and assures us that they will work hard to get all of our enrolled ECE students the appropriate college credit. Jess has been in touch with ECE teachers and will continue to follow up as UConn sends information. This is an important reminder that the whole world is in this moment together and that UConn is in the process of figuring it out, too!

Social Emotional Learning and Porter’s Seminar Courses

These courses will be discontinued. Advisors will be provided with SEL-related prompts/activities for group advising specifically designed to help students through this challenging time and cultivate the necessary skills and mindsets for distance learning. The 11th and 12th grade Porter’s Seminar courses may still ask students to complete a final reflection. Details on this will be forthcoming.

STUDENT SUPPORT

Advisory

Advisors will play a critical role in shaping the online experience for students and building community while we are not able to be together in Farmington. Advisory groups will meet weekly on Wednesdays to check-in, share important updates, and provide information about various virtual events. Students can also expect to have individual check-ins with their advisor each week.

Teaching and Learning Center

The Teaching and Learning Center will continue to be available to students virtually using our WCOnline scheduling program. Students will make appointments through WCOnline just as they always have, only now the appointments have a link to a video conferencing feature that will activate for them to receive real-time support through video chat, real-time messaging, and even a virtual whiteboard.

As always, we will encourage students to depend on their classroom teachers as their first stop for extra help in their particular classes. We will continue to provide assistance for students who need some additional reinforcement in math, help with their research or writing, and general check-ins for organization and time management.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who are currently receiving approved academic accommodations will continue to be provided for in the online setting. Please remember that accommodations may not translate perfectly from the classroom to the virtual platform and some flexibility may be required. Specific questions or concerns about disability accommodations can be directed to Rebecca Plona, Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at rplona@missporters.org.

Counseling

The counselors at Porter’s will be available to students and guardians for support during this time. Unfortunately, due to licensing regulations, Porter’s counselors are unable to provide counseling or therapy. They can provide solution-focused conversations geared toward helping students access support and resources in their local communities. They will also be offering self-care activities, coping skills, wellness resources, and group discussions. For more information contact Director of Counseling Amanda Kice at akice@missporters.org.

Health Services

The health services team will continue to serve as a resource for information and support for students and families during our distance learning period. Our nursing team will share public health strategies, self-care tips, and resources for navigating this global pandemic. For more information contact Director of Nursing Georgia Burman at gburman@missporters.org.

Equity and Inclusion

The Office of Equity and Inclusion will continue to serve as a resource for students as they navigate issues of identity, belonging, community, equity, and inclusion both in and outside of the virtual classroom. Students can continue to reach out via email to set up times to video chat with members of the Office of Equity and Inclusion and get the support they need to navigate challenging or difficult conversations, topics, and situations. For more information contact Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Susan Martell Jenkin at smartelljenkin@missporters.org.

Student Support Team

The Student Support Team, which includes the directors and deans of student life, counseling, health, academics, and equity and inclusion, will continue to meet multiple times a week to discuss specific student needs and community-wide needs.

CO-CURRICULAR PROGRAMS

Advisory

Advisors will play a critical role in shaping the online experience for students and building community while we are not able to be together in Farmington. Advisory groups will meet weekly on Wednesdays to check-in, share important updates, and provide information about various virtual events. Students can also expect to have 1:1 check-ins with their advisor each week.

Morning Meeting / Community Time

Morning Meeting will be delivered by video each week, so look forward to some fun content! We will also have community time each Wednesday for clubs, Alliances, Affinities, and open groups and dialogues. The schedule of events will be posted and reviewed in advisory each week.

Athletics

Athletics is partnering with PLT4M, an interactive workout platform. This organization offers videos centered around ‘remote workouts’, ‘mobility sessions’, and ‘fitness challenges’ for the high school student. Students and faculty will have access to the entire program. Our workouts will add an element of competition through leaderboards available to all.

Every ten days, we aim to send out (via social media) an athletic technical challenge made by one of our coaches. The winners, or best responses, will be shown on the athletic Twitter and Instagram pages.

Colgate Wellness Center

Members of the Colgate Wellness Center and outside guests will offer various groups, wellness content, meditations, and self-care activities. Please check out these resources regularly in order to stay healthy and build your coping skills.

Student Activities

In addition to student organization meetings, Director of Student Activities Michelle Coster and Head of Student Activities Julia Dowd will be planning regular weekend activities! They will be announced and posted weekly. Get excited!

Alliances and Affinities

Alliance and affinities will play a critical role in shaping the virtual MPS experience. We will hold regular affinity meetings as an opportunity for students to check in and connect with their peers. Expect to hear from the Alliance Leaders with specific plans.

Clubs and Student Organizations

Students are invited to hold virtual club meetings during the designated time on Wednesdays or at alternative times outside the school day.

Other Afternoon Activities

Other (non-athletic) afternoon activities may or may not be continuing. Expect to hear from the coordinator of the activity about plans.

COLLEGE COUNSELING

Meeting with College Counselors

College counselors are fully available to support students and their families via email or video-conference. Links to each college counselor’s calendar are available on the college counseling class pages in MyPorter’s, and students may schedule them at their convenience as their online class schedule allows. The online class schedule specifically sets aside Wednesdays for co-curricular meetings, and students are encouraged to use this time to work on their college search if they do not have time during the rest of the week.

College Counseling Class Pages

The College Office now has “class pages” on MyPorter’s much the same as the students have class pages for each of their academic courses. The content will be specifically designed by class year, providing helpful information and tools for juniors and seniors as they continue to progress through the college search process. These resources will also be accessible to parents through their MyPorter’s accounts as well.

College Visit Programs

College campuses are not accepting visitors this spring and have cancelled all previously scheduled programming. This includes regularly scheduled tours and information sessions, as well as admitted student programs. Colleges and universities have devoted tremendous resources toward virtual outreach to their admitted and prospective students to replicate as much of the in-person programming they had planned as possible.Students should look for these resources on the admissions pages of the websites for the schools they are considering.

Ancient Ambassadors for Seniors

Should a senior wish to speak to a Porter’s graduate who is currently attending or recently graduated from one of the schools she is considering, she should notify her college counselor who will help put her in touch with an Ancient at that school.

Standardized Testing for Juniors

All SAT and ACT testing has been cancelled for the months of April and May. Students are encouraged to reschedule their testing to the June test dates, in a test center local to where they are. Registration for testing dates after June 30 will open later in the spring, and college counselors will formulate a plan with each junior to arrange for her next testing date.

SAT / ACT Prep

Free online preparation resources are available for both the SAT and the ACT. Students can work at their own pace and review for all topics, or simply focus on the sections on which they feel they need the most improvement. The SAT provides content via Khan Academy. ACT online prep can be found on their website. A schedule for online delivery of the remaining sessions of the test prep classes provided by Summit will be shared with the students enrolled in those classes.

DISTANCE LEARNING DOWNLOADS
INTERNET CONNECTION TIPS

Students should assure that they have access to a reliable Internet connection. If this is an issue, please contact Susan Martell Jenkin in the Office of Equity and Inclusion at smartelljenkin@missporters.org.

If you find that your having trouble connecting or video is lagging it can help to disconnect devices you aren’t using from your WiFi. Even though you might not be using the device it will still look for WiFi if it’s enabled, slowing down your connection.

IMPORTANT CONTACTS

General questions about our distance learning program can be sent to distancelearning@missporters.org.

Advisors are also a good first point of contact for general questions.

Academic Questions:
Jessica Watkin, Academic Dean jwatkins@missporters.org

Technology Questions:
Cheryl Costello, Director of Information Technology ccostello@missporters.org

Medical Questions:
Georgia Burman, Director of Nursing gburman@missporters.org

Student Support:
Rebecca Plona, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning rplona@missporters.org
Amanda Kice, Director of Counseling akice@missporters.org
Susan Martell Jenkin, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer smartelljenkin@missporters.org

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