TSS: A Love Letter to Teachers

A Love Letter to Teachers

April 27, 2022

Teachers and healthcare workers are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. We keep dumping more and more on them and then expect them to keep going, undaunted. Perhaps it’s time to flip the script. How can we recognize our teachers as experts in their fields and give them the support and resources they need to be successful?  Our teachers recognize that many of their students are stressed and not always available for learning. They know that learning has been lost. They are doing the best that they can. I’ve witnessed firsthand the flexibility and compassion they give their students.  Parents are stressed. Many have children who aren’t doing well. Many teachers are parents too. How do we support one another versus pointing fingers?  It’s time for some systemic change. Why don’t we take a step back and ask teachers what they need? Why don’t we set them up for success…

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Pandemic Learning Loss blog

Pandemic Learning Loss

February 24, 2022

Educators across the country are noticing that students have lost many of the skills they acquired before the pandemic. In some cases, our younger students never developed the skills we expected them to have. For example, lower elementary school teachers are encountering students who have accidents at school because they are not used to asking to go to the bathroom — they have been at home for the past two years, and it was never an issue. Some students are presenting with speech and language issues that have gone unnoticed during the challenges of the pandemic. Still, other students are not used to waiting their turn, raising their hand, or other simple behaviors that they learn at school. For our older students, we’re seeing crippling cases of anxiety. There has been a significant loss of learning for many students, yet they are expected to move forward as if they have…

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The pandemic, school refusal, and mental health struggles

Communities in Crisis: The Pandemic, School Refusal, and Mental Health Struggles – What We’re Not Talking About

January 5, 2022

We are in a mental health crisis.  The pandemic is once again disrupting our daily lives, and we have a significant number of children, tweens, and teens who are not going to school. The isolation that COVID necessitated has caused a myriad of mental health issues. The “rates of depression and suicidal behaviors have increased dramatically during the past decade, and especially during the past two years” (Our National Mental Health Crisis – Psychology Today Dec. 14, 2021). Clinicians noticed a spike in anxiety before the pandemic; since then, it’s skyrocketed out of control. Some younger children have never gone to school and don’t know how to follow a routine. Others have significant social anxiety. We’re seeing a lot of regression in terms of skills that students had previously acquired. We’re also seeing an increase in eating disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. With these mental health…

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Tips to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

June 28, 2021

I recently was asked to give a talk for the FAA on School’s Out: Tips on How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain. Parents wanted to know how they should be engaging their students over the summer, especially in light of COVID and the hopeful relaxing of social guidelines. Parents often worry about regression and wonder if there are ways to prevent it. Many parents also have pragmatic concerns: I have to work full time over the summer, what are my kids supposed to do? Dr. David Myles, who is a pediatrician at Walter Reed and also spoke at the event, used a term I’d like to borrow. He explained that it’s best to view the summer as a bridge between the beginning and end of school.  First of all, as parents, please be kind to yourselves. This has been quite a year and we’ve all had to embrace flexibility, good…

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Remote Learning

Remote Learning Part II

December 15, 2020

Over the summer, we created a comprehensive COVID reopening plan which offered our students the choice of full time in-person or remote instruction. The vast majority of our students chose in-person and it has gone incredibly well. We certainly had our share of adjustments but overall the fall in-person instruction was quite successful. I think being able to offer in-person learning had significant positive effects on our students’ mental health. It also gave us an opportunity to onboard new students, establish rapport, and get our students comfortable with our routines and approach to learning.  Read more about our first week of in-person instruction on our blog “First Week of In-Person and Remote Learning.” An essential feature of our reopening plan was having a planned switch to remote learning from November 30th-January 18th. We anticipated that COVID rates would be high, it would be the height of flu season, and that…

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In-Person Learning

First Week of In-Person and Remote Learning

September 4, 2020

Back to School 2020 has necessitated months of creativity and planning.  The hard work paid off when our in-person learners walked through the door Monday for their first day of school.  Simultaneously, our remote learners were logging on to start their first day. Each was exciting and eventful in their own unique way.  But we all started this school year together as a community. It was an exciting, busy and eventful week. We were reminded that while proper planning and preparation are important, maintaining a positive and open mind is equally important. We have put in the months of planning and now we need to execute our plans being mindful of the current environment. Flexibility is our mantra for the year.  Masks Not a big deal. Despite all the worry and anticipation around wearing masks, all the students wore their masks and didn’t complain. They seemed happy. Over the course…

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In-person Learning

Opening Day In-Person Countdown!

August 24, 2020

It’s one week before we open our doors (literally) for the new school year at The Sycamore School!  It’s been a wild ride since we had to switch to a virtual model this past spring and as we’ve been preparing to resume class in-person next week.  Every summer at this time, staff wish for an extra planning week to get just *one* more task done. Even though our core team works all summer preparing for the upcoming school year, it never feels as if we have enough time. There is always more we want to do to prepare for the upcoming school year.  This year is no different. While there are still those little items on our to-do list that we are scrambling to finish, the hard work is done.  We are ready.  There is always excitement in the air the last week before school starts. This year the excitement…

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COVID-19 Update

July 21, 2020

TSS plans to resume in-person learning 5 days a week this fall. As part of our return to school plan, no visitors (to include parents) will be allowed into the school for the foreseeable future.  Newly enrolled families will be invited for an in-person tour of the school in August. School meetings and community workshops will continue this school year via ZOOM webinars.  Visit our Events page for upcoming events. As a service for the community, we have compiled a list of resources for parents and students: Parent ResourcesStudent Resources

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Private School Arlington and DC

Fall School Planning

July 10, 2020

Public schools in our area are asking parents to make a choice for fall: keep your child/ren home for 100% virtual, or choose a hybrid model where they are in school for a couple of days, and virtual the rest of the week. It’s a difficult choice for many reasons – and a large one is the uncertainty. How long will this last? Are you equipped to manage your kids on your own at home? What if you send them to school and they get sick? What if they start the year at school but then it shuts down again? The lack of certainty is maddening…and can be frightening.  At The Sycamore School, we are planning for every contingency. While we can’t offer certainty about how the pandemic will play out in our community this fall, we can offer our families the peace of mind that we are capable and…

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students and teachers using remote learning at the Sycamore School

Remote Learning – Tips and Lessons Learned

May 1, 2020

Shifting to distance learning has been an adjustment for students, staff, and parents. At The Sycamore School, we offer individualized instruction, so our unique challenge was determining how to offer the same level of support remotely, recognizing that: Many of our parents work full time, so they have limited ability to monitor and check in on their students while they’re working from home.  Many of our students struggle with executive functioning skills, so we had to figure out how to get them into a routine that worked for them and their family;  Once it became apparent distance learning was not a short-term endeavor, we divided up our students between our staff. Each staff member was the point person for a small cohort of 10 students, checking in with them daily and helping them create and maintain a daily schedule. While this was a good starting point, it wasn’t always enough.…

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First Week of Remote Learning at TSS

March 20, 2020

The week of March 9th felt like a month.  At the beginning of the week, the coronavirus still seemed at arms length.  By Wednesday evening it became clear to me that we would need to shut down our school facility and support our students remotely sooner, rather than later.  On Thursday morning, I explained the situation to our students and crafted a letter to parents.  That Thursday afternoon, I held a staff meeting to flesh out the details of our remote learning. All week, staff had been bouncing around ideas. Our challenge? How to continue the same level of personalized educational support and guidance remotely. Fortunately, all of our students had laptops and were accustomed to doing the bulk of their work on a computer; and we were already on a google classroom platform, so we spent the next two days teaching students how to navigate google chat and hangout. …

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