COVID-19

Dear Colleagues,
As we all confront the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, it is more important than ever to work together to share resources and provide support.

We will regularly add to this resource page as new information and links are made available. If you have tips or resources to share, or have ideas from your school’s distance learning, please send them to Amala Easton (info@allianceforpublicwaldorfeducation.org) or Chamomile Nusz (memberhisp@allianceforpublicwaldorfeducation.org).

We understand that every school will have unique opportunities and challenges, and that authorizer, district and state requirements vary.  Please check regularly with your school’s guidelines and requirements.

We are already learning a lot about the demands of this situation and our learning will continue. We understand that parents are looking to teachers and schools to provide guidance and structure for their children. Schools are responding in a variety of ways including: sending work packets home; recording stories, songs, and other materials and sending them as podcasts; use of video clips; suggestions for home-based activities; and virtual classrooms. In order to facilitate the sharing of ideas, the Alliance will host Zoom sessions on a regular basis. Watch for updates on these meetings.

Zoom Collaboration Meetings

Please click on the title to visit our Zoom Collaboration page which has all of our Fall 2020 Zoom Links

September 2020 Update:

Dear Colleagues,

Most of our schools have launched a new school year in a start like no other with the majority of classes being offered virtually or in hybrid format. We send our warmest wishes to you and your school communities as your year gets underway.

How do we approach Fall 2020 with its continuous requirement to develop and adopt plans, change adopted plans, then repeat as circumstances shift? How do we align our belief in developmental, relationship-based, arts-infused education with distance education, physical distancing, fear for well-being, and the accumulated weariness of months of work-from-home and juggling of roles?

There are no easy answers, but our personal and professional principles help guide us. We can return to our personal mission: Why do I teach? What do I understand to be the purpose of schools and of teaching? What is my view of childhood and of children? Plus, as members of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education, we can turn to our shared Core Principles to provide guidance for our work in this extraordinary, uncharted time.

Our Core Principles help us navigate this time of multiple crises. As an example, we see this in one shared dilemma: the use of screens. We have held a position on screens and children that is thoroughly grounded in research; unlike much of education, we have kept screens out of the classroom as much and for as long as possible and expended time and energy dissuading parents from use of screens with their young children. We have explained what we know: children learn best in direct, engaged relationship; learning is most effective when it is “whole child,” somatic and experiential. In the physical classroom, we rely on multiple cues as we constantly engage in formative assessment and adapt our teaching to meet the students. We know, and have told our communities, that screens work against all of this. They encourage unnatural stillness. They impose images on children rather than inviting them to develop their own. They affect the way the young child’s brain functions.

This all remains true, but we are now confronted with the reality of a time in which, for most of us, we cannot be together in a classroom. Virtual contact, typically through Zoom, has become really important. How can we reconcile and explain this in light of our previous stance against screens? The key thing to remember here is that Zoom is a tool to support our pedagogical principles and work. Even with significant limitations, Zoom helps us maintain connection and community, provides students with access to their teachers, and allows teaching and learning to proceed.

Since March, we have heard many, many examples of creative and innovative teaching using the tool of Zoom, teaching that directly reflects our Core Principles. Educators are bringing their knowledge of child development as they decide how and where to use Zoom. (How much is too much for the younger child? Which activities work well for different ages on Zoom?) They are keeping in mind our image of the holistic human being. (How do we bring movement, art, nature, and social-emotional learning into a virtual environment? How do we include a mood of gratitude and wonder?) They are fostering and maintaining community and connection through class and community events and activities.

We know this is not simple or free of problems. Schools are balancing accountability requirements for instructional time with concerns about length of time on screens. We are all concerned about access and the widening of existing gaps. In our current reality, access and diversity remain our most challenging principles. Systemic racism and inequity that are far from new have been laid inescapably bare in recent months. Our virtual reality has highlighted fundamental issues of equity, access, and inclusion of all students. We are all looking anew at who is in our schools and classrooms, who has the technology and access needed for virtual access, where we make assumptions about students, homes, and resources, which parents are “essential workers”, who is working from home, who has the luxury of time and space to support distance learning.

We are engaged in a great awakening. We worry, rightfully, about existing gaps growing wider. Yet, another of our Core Principles strives for social change through education. We must seize new opportunities for change and growth. The pandemic will end at some point. Schools will reopen. Our challenge will be to take this enforced opportunity to reexamine assumptions, to awaken, to support a reshaping of schools, of classrooms, and of the process of teaching, based on a coherent, complete image of all children’s childhood. Our children are counting on us for this.

Sending warm wishes and strength to each one of you and deep gratitude for the principled work you are doing every day,

Liz Beaven

On behalf of the Board of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education

 

Views from the Field: 20 Observations, Tips, and Questions from Teachers on Virtual Teaching and Learning from last week’s Zoom Town Hall

We invite you to add your own experiences to this growing list.

  1. Build in frequent breaks. Encourage students to move, look outside (even better if they can step outside) during breaks
  2. Adapt movement to the screen. From a kindergarten teacher: “Here we go round the mulberry bush” became “Here we go climbing the mulberry bush” so she could see the children
  3. Headphones can be a challenge as they tether the child to the screen. They may be necessary if there are siblings, crowded space, or the child is participating from a daycare center
  4. Encourage moments of a longer gaze, away from the screen; looking at something green is even better
  5. Hydrate! Important for students and teachers
  6. Be in dialogue with administration about overall screen hours – for you and for the students (some of us have split classes and are teaching double)
  7. Engage parents and be aware of unrealistic expectations on parents (especially “essential workers” and working from home)
  8. Children in childcare may have little support for classes. We need to be mindful of settings
  9. Practice self-care – many are depending on our teacher and this can be exhausting. We need to remind one another to take care of ourselves
  10. Have open office hours for parents of younger children and for students and parents in older grades
  11. AND, establish clear boundaries. You can’t be available 24/7
  12. Be prepared for technical glitches (what happens if the teacher gets kicked off?)
  13. Many are still dealing with disparity of technology and access. What can be offered?
  14. Build in movement and eurythmy gestures to counterbalance sitting still and hunching over
  15. Parents need reassurance and support – frequent emails with supportive messaging help
  16. Students are so excited to see their teachers and one another. It is a new beginning
  17. How do we sustain their initial enthusiasm without feeling as if we have to be entertainers?
  18. What is the right rhythm for class parent meetings?
  19. How are we managing special education assessment? Is our district allowing these to be in person?
  20. Add notes to children in supply bags or boxes

March 28th Update:

Sixty-six of us gathered via Zoom to greet old and new friends across the country and to share questions and ideas. There was a wonderful feeling of solidarity and connection during this time of anxiety, stress, and distancing. Together, we can creatively support our children and families through this – and challenge and deepen our pedagogical assumptions.

 

Several key areas were introduced or discussed. This summary is not exhaustive but should help carry us forward. The Alliance has scheduled ongoing sessions, starting Monday March 30. See below for the schedule; we hope you will join us.

 

A few major take-aways from Monday:

  • We are all committed to the social/emotional health of our students.
  • States have different requirements and levels of support.
  • We are working this out as we go – and the energy and commitment is spectacular!
  • We are very mindful of issues of access and equity.
  • We are not trying to recreate the classroom at home or expect parents to suddenly become teachers. Most of our parents are juggling a lot right now.
  • Our community and connections are a powerful resource that we will help to harness.

 

Distance Learning Approaches

  • Many schools are using Google Classroom and Zoom.
  • Other Google apps, e.g. Hangout, Meet, JamBoard work well within Google classrooms.
  • Parent Square website was mentioned.
  • Facetime can be helpful with younger children – to say hello, tell a short story, etc.
  • Teachers are establishing website for their classes.
  • Consider a website for parents (also look at Google classroom for sharing parent information).
  • Many teachers have sent home supplies for work and projects. Consider staggered pick-ups if you are still planning to do this. If your state is not yet closed down, do this now.

 

Regulatory Requirements

  • Some states are only allowing enrichment, not delivery of new material. Teachers are responding with review and activities.
  • Requirements for attendance vary by state.
  • California will count ADA based on February 28
  • Note that many regulations on minimum number of instructional days and end of school year are being relaxed. This is likely to continue.
  • Stay alert for directives from your district and state

 

Equity and Access concerns

  • Some families do not have hardware or internet capacity. Check with your district for computer access. Internet providers are making free hotspots available. Look at Comcast and Xfinity as an example.
  • It is not reasonable to expect many parents to be available to teach their children; this needs to be factored in when planning distance learning.
  • Questions about special education – this needs more attention.

 

Special Subjects

  • How to integrate our “specials.”
  • Ideas for song, poems, stories, activities to be shared with students.
  • Projects – 3rd grade was specifically mentioned, but all grades.
  • Needs its own webinar – and we have folks eager to lead and this and share their ideas!
  • Movement needed. Offer of a eurythmy recording – can we get a link to this please?

 

Early Childhood

  • Discussion of the special needs of the young child.
  • How to balance remote access and protection of the child.
  • Short podcasts for stories or songs.
  • Facetime to see the child and check in?
  • For this age group, support of the parents is essential and primary – they are asking for ideas, activities, guidance.

 

Be well!

 

Important notice: The following information is provided for support and does not constitute endorsement of any materials, recommendation, health advice, service and/or product, or legal advice.

General Information

 

Tips for talking with Children (0-3) about COVID

State guides, EC responses (Alliance for Early Success)

Resources from the Waldorf Community

How Do I Find and Create Goodness for My Children
Communicating with Children and Supporting Them in Difficult Times
Suggestions for Parents from When the Kindergarten Needs to Close

Other Resources for Families

How to Talk to Kids about Coronavirus
How to Stay Sane When Working from Home with Young Children
Why the Coronavirus (Mostly) Spares Children
School is Closing. Now What?

Mindfulness Resources for Families and Teachers

 

Troubling Times: Anxiety Rising, Schools Closing, and Way More Time at Home With The Kids

A special five-part audio series with Kim John Payne

From Kim John Payne

We have been fielding an unprecedented number of calls, emails, and posts from parents looking for support in how to handle the current coronavirus situation with their children and teens.

In response, we recorded this special five-part audio series.

It’s available online at simplicityparenting.com and via our podcast at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-simplicity-parenting-podcast-with-kim-john-payne/id1407320921

In this challenging time, we feel it’s more important than ever for each of us to do what we can to support each other, so we wanted to put this together and make it available right away. If you find the series helpful, please think of any other parent, organization, or school community who might benefit from this kind of support and send them a link to this page.

Thank you. Be safe. And our very best wishes to you and your family.

Episodes:

1- “Preparing” – How to speak to our kids and how to stay centered so our kids can co-regulate with us.

2- “Signaling Security via Decluttering” – When the world feels like it is in chaos and closing in, creating a decluttered space is like soul arnica.

3- “Wrapping Warm Rhythm Around Our Children” – When so much is changing and shifting, how do we strengthen predictability and the feeling that all is well in our family’s world.

4- “Dialing Back Schedules in Preparation and Decisions Afterwards” – How to walk children and teens off their busy lives in preparing for the cancellations of school and after school activities, and the opportunity it offers when life gets back to normal.

5- “Filtering Adult Information is More Important Now Than Before” – With so much scary information out there, how can we keep our kids informed in the right way for their age?

The Online HelpLine: From Contraction to Interaction

A free webinar for teachers and parents working online

By Raine Springer

A few days ago you may have been told that you were to immediately become a teacher or parent responsible for conveying Waldorf pedagogy to children at home and over the Internet. Eugene Schwartz is uniquely qualified to help you. He has been a pioneer in taking Waldorf education online, developing MillennialChild.com, the first Waldorf web site in 1999, creating the first Waldorf videos on YouTube in 2006, and pioneering the first online conferences for Waldorf teachers in 2010. His experiences with a wide array of Internet platforms, hardware, and software allow him to guide you as you work to “deliver content” to your students. In addition, you’ll be given practical advice on how to imbue your students’ online experience with artistry and meaning. You will also be able to view twenty videos from the Online Conferences that show the myriad ways in which Waldorf content may be presented from grades one through nine.
Eugene will certainly share a wealth of technical advice to enrich your students. And he is no less concerned about the well-being of teachers and parents during this stressful time.

Can Waldorf gain a foothold in the online world without losing its soul? How can teachers mitigate the fallout from the electromagnetic forces that suddenly underlie their relationship with their students and permeate all that the teacher presents? 

Eugene’s twenty-one years of exploration of the Internet, along with his struggles to bring soul and spirit to the cold and agnostic domain of cyberspace, will help teachers counterbalance the compression and contraction that are embodied in computer hardware and software.

Sign on at  iwaldorf.net/helpline.html  and you may access, at no charge, the wealth of material that is offered from March 23rd though June 1st.

 

Jamie York’s Three Offerings for Waldorf School Teachers Entering the Virtual World

1. Free Video conferences with tech tips for Waldorf teachers.

Forced out of the classroom and into the virtual world? Friday, March 20, 2020, Jamie York, Waldorf math educator and author offered the first of his free live video conferences on Tech Tips for Teaching Online Math for Waldorf class and math subject teachers. This basic session was recorded. It can be found by going to a special page on our website, which has advice and support for online math teaching at https://www.jamieyorkpress.com/online-teaching-tips/

Each Friday, at 6PM US, MST (for the foreseeable future during this Covid-19 time) you’ll have the chance to join Jamie York for a question and answer session about online math teaching. You should watch the March 20, 2020 recording of the first tech tips video conference before joining us on Fridays. Then, if you still have questions, this is the Friday Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/455331243

Note that if it is your first time using Zoom, then after you click on the link, you will be asked to download the Zoom app, which only takes a minute.

In these topsy-turvy times, we at Jamie York Press want to offer our expertise and guidance about online math teaching to Waldorf class and subject teachers who have little or no experience working with the web. We do our best with that, but certainly agree that there is no substitute for an in-person, soul-to-soul teaching experience.

We’re sharing what we have learned. Over the last few years, Jamie has worked out the technical kinks associated with delivering an online program. He’s sat with questions such as: How do I as a teacher keep students connected to their classmates? How do I foster human connection with my students when I am teaching math online? What are best practices?

2. Waldorf School Teachers can have their students join our existing online math program Jamie York Math Academy and their teachers can participate and act as tutors for their own students. This quality program was originally designed for homeschoolers. We are offering this opportunity at a much-reduced cost to Waldorf schools. Contact Karen@jamieyorkpress.com if your school would be interested in this special offer during these challenging times. You’ll also find more information at https://www.jamieyorkpress.com/math-academy/

3. Online Art of Teaching Math grade-specific workshops’ sale extension. Meanwhile, we at Jamie York Press have also extended our March MATHness sale of our Art of Teaching Math online grades workshops through May 2020. ($120 instead of $510 for two weeks’ access, grades 1 through 11 are available).

Note: Our REFRESHER RATE for the Art of Teaching Math workshops for those who would like to repeat the same workshop is NOW $75 only for two weeks’ access. Email Karen@JamieYorkPress.com to get your Refresher rate price.