Like many other schools, traditional face-to-face classroom connections at Excel are now taking place in Zoom meetings, and brain-based, hands-on learning has shifted from experiments in science labs to creative assignments at home using household items.
Faculty and staff are learning alongside students, adjusting levels of appropriate screen time for different ages and finding new ways to track student progress digitally. They are also honoring the importance of off-screen time not only for students to complete assignments, but to exercise or spend precious time with their families.
Headmaster Dr. Jennifer Clark said in a recent Facebook Live: Coffee and Chat with parents, “We are engaging differently. You are seeing shifts as we move along in this process because the way we teach is brain-friendly, and we need to be responsive to the needs of each student.”
While providing new ways to deliver top quality instruction online with high levels of engagement presents many unique new challenges, Excel Christian Academy teachers, students, and their families are seeing the “silver linings” that result from facing disruption and challenge, revealing to us the power in the simplest of life lessons.
1. God has a plan. Do not be fearful or afraid. Pastor Scott Thomas reminds us that only God can give us the peace we need so we are not afraid during times of trouble. He tells us that “spiritual victories require natural decisions, so we have to choose to do something that will get us spiritual impact.” Pastor Thomas explains “because fear is driven by scarcity, and gratitude is driven by contentment, we need to be in prayer with Thanksgiving.”
“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
2. Hand out thank you's generously. Facebook engagement on our page is at an all time high! Parent posts of appreciation for Excel's dedicated teachers are abundant just as the teachers' expressions of overwhelming gratitude for the support and involvement of parents. These engagements are simple yet contagious, support mental health, and encourage contentment, confidence, and motivation. Show gratitude to each other often. It works.
3. Learning is all around us. Being home has reminded us of the many opportunities kids have to learn from their families and from ordinary daily activities at home. Teachers have designed creative lessons for students to include real-life interactions and activities where they live. Learn about primary sources and history by interviewing a grandparent about a significant event or time period. Learn math concepts by measuring items around the house for volume and area or calculating and applying fractions in baking.
4. We are stronger together. Facing a common enemy like the novel coronavirus has united us all. As a community together embracing and practicing our core values of Honor, Creativity, Generosity, Diversity, Excellence, and Growth in new and different ways, now is a good time to remember we are all created equal, each with unique God-given gifts and talents. And together, we are #SpartanStronger.
5. Disruption jumpstarts growth. We have had to learn how to communicate, work, teach, learn, and live life differently. And we know now it’s more than adding video conferencing and providing links to online resources. If we use this experience to model for our students how to deliberately shift thinking from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, we teach them how to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. And as we at Excel blaze new trails in education, the kids discover that the possibilities for their own learning, growth, and success are endless.