Bentley has always created community through a relational model, believing that we learn better when we know each other well. How great, too, that we know each other better when we learn together! We love this virtuous cycle, and the Remote Schoolhouse hopes to nourish this tradition in new ways. Curriculum development and technological integrations flourish throughout the program, driven by a desire to serve our students’ love of learning even in these extraordinary circumstances. We began after campus closures during the PG&E shutdowns of October 2019 prompted us to ask how we could bridge gaps in our regular program.
Despite the challenges ahead, our approach is invigorated by opportunities to build, to renew, and to do it all together.
We all expect the best of ourselves but understand that patience and flexibility should be the watchwords of our work together.
We prize community connections that uplift spirits and keep our virtual classrooms bright.
Familiar touchpoints of attendance and other regular check-ins sustain contact and communication throughout the day and week.
More than just the latest technological tools, the Remote Schoolhouse provides real access to Bentley’s comprehensive and diverse curriculum.
Our recently launched Parents in Partnership Project was designed to strengthen the school/home relationship so we can function together as the most productive and helpful team possible for each and every student.
This project provides a means of connection among Bentley's parents, all of whom are now engaged in ways they never anticipated as they support and coach their children in the online learning environment.
Philosophy & Aspirations
Community is Key
Remaining connected and collaborative in times of separation reassures, soothes, and inspires. While independent exploration and individual study support deep learning, the structure of daily and weekly schedules punctuated by academic and social outlets provides the opportunity to engage when isolation looms. We hope to balance time for practice and reflection with cheerful engagements and encouragement from friends and faculty. Even when students are at home, we offer check-ins throughout each day to keep us connected and our community intact.
Core principles of collaboration, flexibility, and patience guide our schedules and school structures as we forge ahead online, keeping the community engagement we cherish a top priority even while finding ourselves physically separated. Messages from school leaders and teachers, shared community time, virtual class discussions, and informal advisory chats continue this work. We hope that they form a network of experiences and a chorus of voices that remind us all of the familiar, enduring comfort of our school lives.
The Remote Model: Challenges and Benefits
We know that the leap to a remote model can mean new challenges for everyone involved, especially families with other members also working and learning at home. Our program varies the mode of connection and the demands on technology throughout the day to address this challenge. A range of touchpoints throughout the entire teaching day and academic week sustains lines of communication. Routine can provide such comfort in otherwise stressful and uncertain circumstances. We hope to balance attention to intellectual engagement while remaining mindful of the unusual rigors of working from a home base.
When Students Work from Home
We encourage students to
establish a designated spot where school engagement happens
continue their regular routines: daily personal care, physical activity and movement breaks throughout the day, get good sleep
regulate screen time and enjoy books, games, and experiences away from devices in free and unstructured time
We encourage parents to
monitor their student’s engagement with the program by following the daily schedule and sharing in the review of weekly plans
notice screen time
Assessment of Progress & Growth
Supporting student engagement and fostering growth remains our highest priority. From kindergarten through 12th grade, we focus on maintaining that vital link with our students and on working through new methods to meet curiosity with critical thinking skills. So, we’re going to start slow and build momentum carefully, as familiarity and routine take time to develop.
In the middle and upper school programs, strands of feedback and assessment will knit us closer and in more familiar ways as our time away from campus continues. Experimentation becomes practice, which soon transforms into an earned experience. Along the way, early formative assessments will help teachers identify and hone the best modes for instruction, leading to the sound designs for balanced and meaningful summative assessments.
As we move forward, the pacing of delivered material and evaluation will change in order to accommodate the unprecedented demands placed on students working from home.
"Our overarching goal for our Bentley students is to maintain their feeling of connectedness to their classroom communities while also keeping up their learning momentum."
- Liz Lummis O'Neil
Lower School Director
"It is truly amazing the sense of community that has continued through this experience. Although we are physically apart, the sense of togetherness has never been stronger."
- Lloyd Brown
Director of Technology K-12
"When it eventually seemed likely that schools across the country might transition to online learning, we immediately thought ‘If anyone can do this, it’s Bentley!’ In my opinion, the school is handling this far better than other organizations and as a parent, I am grateful for their tireless efforts."
- Al Y.
Parent of Bentley 7th Grader
"Using Zoom to connect with our classes every morning in Lower School has been working really well! It’s great to see their smiling faces and get a quick gauge of how they're feeling. It is also a wonderful way to provide some routine and to kick off the day."
- Jacquie Escher
Bentley 3rd Grade Teacher
"We want to say thank you so much for the useful and effective online learning platform you provided our kids. It's so great to see our son's engagement and learning enthusiasm for Bentley's Remote Schoolhouse."
- Burçin C.
Parent of Bentley 5th Grader