While nothing can fully replace the experience of face-to-face learning in the classroom, the recent and abrupt transition to remote learning has required our faculty to reflect on how the best elements of classroom learning can be adapted and applied to Bentley’s online curriculum.
This health crisis has also asked our parents to be incredibly flexible and embrace new technologies and routines. As we all continue to adjust to new ways of operating, we keep in mind that this magnitude of change is hard on everyone. And while we are not physically together, we continue to have our Bentley community surrounding us and in new exciting ways.
Reflections from Michael & Avani S.
Parents of a Bentley 2nd-grader and 5th-grader
We are SO grateful for all that you have been doing to keep learning and community flourishing during these pandemic times. The fact that the school was open till 6:00 p.m. one Friday and the Remote Schoolhouse was up and running by 8:30 a.m. the following Monday is nothing short of amazing -- we don't know any other educational institution at any level that was able to pull off such a quick and efficient transition to remote learning. Moreover, the teachers and administration continue to impress us each and every day with their creativity, their generosity, and their all-around awesomeness!
Hats off with MUCH gratitude to teachers who are going above and beyond to keep kids excited and engaged about learning remotely. I've often borrowed techniques from my kids' elementary school teachers to use in my own law school classroom, and they now continue to inspire me with miraculous feats like getting remote learning up and running, having assignments ready by 8:00 a.m. every morning that the kids can't wait to see, holding hours-long group calls every day with an entire class of over-energetic 10-year-olds!
Just when we thought we couldn't be any luckier, you've come through with new ideas like the Spring Break Camp (hallelujah for working parents!) and the 2nd Grade Drive-By this week (which was touching and special beyond words!).
Bentley is making a huge difference in our lives during these challenging times, and our kids are happy and thriving due in large part to your efforts. You are our everyday heroes. Thank you!
Reflections from Dr. Jason Chang
Upper School History Teacher
As my students faced one of the most strange and dislocating disruptions to their educations so far, I couldn't help but be incredibly proud of the way they all navigated the shift to Bentley's Remote Schoolhouse with such sangfroid. Every single one of my students took up the charge to pivot to an entirely new and radically altered way of receiving instruction without missing a beat. As I spent the first week of remote learning playing around with different lessons and activities to assay the effectiveness of each (e.g., small breakout discussion groups that preceded full group conversations, giving a short lecture over a slide show while sharing my screen in real-time to allow dynamic Q&A, or just informally talking as a full class on Zoom about the week's content), my students responded enthusiastically, with grace and erudition, and always with the generosity of spirit that is the essence of the Bentley community.
While it may seem counterintuitive, what I am most grateful for this first week is that I have grown truly closer to my students as we've charted these new territories together. And even though these connections were forged through computer screens and sometimes-spotty internet connections, I know this strange moment in history is one we'll never forget and is sure to be one from which we will all emerge wiser and more resilient than before.
Reflections from Archie Douglas
Director of College Counseling
College Counseling depends on knowledge and expertise, of course, but just as critical are connection, trust, and relationships. Those understandings have deeply informed our move online as we work to stay in regular contact with juniors, seniors, families, colleges, and colleagues around the country. Now, instead of dropping into each other's offices, the College Counseling team has a daily Zoom meeting where we share greetings, reports, and ideas. Our outreach to students is deliberate, as we are constantly checking in with juniors about their lists and with seniors about their applications and decisions. We're also sending out a weekly newsletter with updates. Working to stay connected has brought a new level of urgency to our efforts. We know that applying to college is a new experience for every student, and we are determined to be there for each of them, supporting and guiding as needed.
Reflections from Thomas Ryan
Middle School Science Teacher
While nothing can perfectly replace classroom education, remote learning has made it possible for deep learning and exploration to continue in unforeseen ways. Our students have boldly risen to the challenge of transitioning to an entirely new format of education, and the tools we have been given as educators through Remote Schoolhouse have allowed us to present content in ways that engage many types of learners.
There have been and will continue to be hurdles, but with the support of my colleagues, I am optimistic we can continue to design and implement quality lessons that provide our students with meaningful learning experiences every day.
Reflections from Emma B.
Parent of a Bentley Kindergartner and 7th-grader
I’ve been thinking about the momentous task Bentley has engaged in during the last few weeks - the transition to remote learning has been remarkable. I’m so appreciative of how smooth it has been for the children and me, and of how much it means to have the Bentley community at hand electronically. I imagine that it hasn’t been as easy as Bentley has made it look! I recognize that this is all uncharted territory and that the conditions under which this new model is being implemented are personally and professionally stressful for all. And that is what makes it so much more incredible. Ms. Fisher and Ms. Easton and all the Kindergarten and specialty teachers have been fantastic, communicative, inspiring, calm, and responsive to the uploads my son is making, and Mr. Ryan has been a helpful and responsive, insightful and receptive resource for keeping me on track with what is happening in my 7th grader's online learning program. I know that there are many others in the background who are making this all work. What a team!
Thanks for keeping our children engaged and excited about learning, keeping us sane at home, and providing the stimulation and structure that we all need to keep going under difficult circumstances.
Reflections from Donna Canada-Smith, Ph.D
Upper School English & French Teacher
12th Grade Dean
Our transition to Remote Schoolhouse has been off to a great start. As a teacher, I have been able to implement a host of different pedagogical tools that allow students to have more voice and choice over their assignments, in addition to preparing them for the realities of college. My favorite activities have been the Video Essays on Flipgrid where my English Seminar students discussed the value of art as it relates to the characters from Yasmina Reza's, "Art" and where my French students post daily videos en français! There are so many amazing learning moments to come out of this experience, and I am excited to see where these projects take us!
Reflections from Lindsey Almeida
Middle School Director
During this time while we are forced to be away from one another, Bentley is doing everything we can to stay connected. Middle School teachers meet with their class virtually every day and students are able to work with one another on projects and have meaningful interactions and discussions. Teachers are also available for one-on-one conferences or small group sessions during designated study hall times. We hold advisory several times a week so that students can check in with their advisors, have serious chats about how they doing and feeling, and maybe end with a dance party! Our Middle School student government is working on setting up group exercise classes and evening shared movie nights so we can keep our sense of community strong.
While we miss seeing everyone in person, this unexpected experience has demonstrated how close the community Bentley really is. Being physically separated is ironically making our community stronger and even more important.