Embracing an Inclusive and Challenging Curriculum
As we transitioned into SY20-21 planning, we had plenty of strengths to leverage: we ultimately achieved 93% access to technology despite starting around 60%, we hired nearly 100% of open positions by June 1st, and we established very ambitious remote learning expectations. Our school teams worked tirelessly to distribute some form of technology, whether a hotspot, tablet, chromebook, or some combination of the three, to all of our families as they communicated these technology needs. Due to the incredible teamwork of our staff we were able to do so as proactively as possible by making decisions early, so that leaders and teachers were able to focus on learning to lead and teach with an entirely new set of conditions.
A lot has transpired since spring. We have heard from staff and families via surveys, we have heard from the city about its reopening plans, and our School Leadership teams have been working hard to craft detailed playbooks and plans for each scenario. We have seen that throughout the pandemic, a lot can change in a short amount of time. So while plans are based on the most recent science, research, and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), everything is subject to change at a moment’s notice. You can find our most up-to-date information about remote learning and COVID-19 protocols here.
On August 24th, two weeks before the district start date, we welcomed our students to remote school, which will be more robust and structured than the spring experience. Here are a few key points:
- Access. KIPP works with every single student to ensure that they can access our technology platforms for online school.
- The best online education programs. KIPP invests in top online education platforms for every student.
- Communication. KIPP staff members have weekly individualized check-ins with every student and families will receive weekly progress reports.
- Small group attention. KIPPsters will engage in small Zoom study groups with their teachers if they are struggling to understand a concept.
- As close to a normal school day as possible. KIPPsters will be in live Zoom classes every day with their teachers and classmates. In addition, KIPPsters will have meaningful and joyful virtual community building experiences with classmates each week.
Students engage in synchronous and asynchronous learning. Our online education programs and platforms allow for predictable weekly and daily routines to make remote learning as accessible as possible for our families, while optimizing KIPPsters’ learning. Students will receive daily instruction in core content, utilizing familiar online tools and programs like SeeSaw, Zoom video conferencing, amongst others.
Between mid August and September 4th nearly all of KIPP Chicago families had 1:1 conferences with their teachers or leaders. These conferences ensured that families had the devices they needed and that they could practice accessing their google classrooms and the instructional programs they would be using. This allowed students to really “hit the ground running” even with a new way of learning and building community with their peers. Regarding attendance, KIPP Chicago holds a high bar for engagement and as a result focused the first two weeks of school supporting families in getting logged on and feeling connected to their teachers, their peers and their remote classrooms while also teaching academic routines and expectations. We know that learning requires more time engaged and we aspire to have 90% of our students logged on to all their live sessions each day – for our students this is at least 2-3 times a day.
At the same time, we understand that sometimes families will need to make up missed content and have provided methods for them to do so. Lastly, KIPP Chicago families are our partners and for our youngest students they are really our co-teachers. Consequently, staff members will meet weekly with families to truly embody this partnership. We are truly in this together.
Other innovations and priorities include:
- Resources for safety. We are adapting all current school operational procedures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Despite the fact that we do not know when on-site schooling will resume, KIPP Chicago has already purchased 4 months worth of PPE for staff and students to ensure everyone’s safety and health should such a situation arise. We are working urgently to secure funding for expanded and dedicated on-site nursing consultation at each of our 8 schools.
- Resources ensuring equitable access. We will close the digital divide by loaning devices to all students in need, including new enrollees, while also maintaining a near 1:1 ratio on-site, thereby ensuring agility and guaranteeing learning every single day of next year. We are investing in instructional platforms to enhance the remote teaching and learning experience.
- Resources for addressing social emotional needs and trauma. We will focus on creating emotionally and physically safe, supportive, and engaging learning environments in both the remote and on-site settings, thereby ensuring KIPP’s commitment to the whole child upon return to school. We will start our school year with one social worker at every K-8 campus. Teams from across KIPP Chicago are being trained on the SEL RULER curriculum to ensure that students have space to learn to identify their feelings and strategies for addressing those feelings. Implementing the curriculum also allows teachers to be constantly monitoring the health and wellness of our students so they can respond urgently in situations that require additional attention.
Check out our new web page with all of our updates on remote learning!