In March, when we were planning for remote learning in the days prior to announcing our decision that we would be ending the school year in this way, our Remote Learning Committee knew we needed to create a schedule that met four objectives: the delivery of academic content; the creation of virtual community; an attentiveness to the mental health of students, faculty, and parents; and the opportunity to strengthen the resiliency assets of the students. Moreover, we knew that these four objectives were interdependent. If we tried to deliver too much academic content, we would create stress and anxiety in our students that would drive them away from the virtual community gatherings and reduce their ability to grow more resilient. If, on the other hand, we removed too many academic expectations, we could not deliver the content that would be necessary to reinforce the academic skills that the students will need for next year. We had to find and maintain a balance. We adjusted when we felt we needed to, but the interplay between these objectives worked well, for the most part, during this challenging period.
Through this process of remote learning, we are reminded daily of something we always knew but had taken for granted. Teaching and learning are most effective when they happen in community, particularly for adolescents. Community is an accelerant to the learning process because of the relational trust that it establishes and nurtures and the energy it creates. While our virtual community events during this period of remote learning are not the same as being together, they serve their purpose well and provide continuity and an opportunity for reflection and engagement that is of a different nature. While not the same, it is far better than doing nothing to bring people together. Sadly, this has been the experience for many students in different learning environments.
As we look to next year and the ability to return to campus in ways that honor and adhere to the guidance of the health professionals, the advantages that Trinity-Pawling offers to build and promote community will be an asset compared to other types of learning environments. The depth of relational trust at Trinity-Pawling will continue to be an accelerant to the learning process that will be all the more important, educationally, and strategically. And, we will use this summer creatively to ensure that, if we need to rely on remote learning in the future, it will be from a place of enhanced confidence that we are able to do this even more dynamically and successfully than we did with only two weeks to prepare for it.
As a School, we will continue to be prepared for the challenges of an ever-changing world.
by William W. Taylor