Teachers completed courses this past summer in how to deliver online instruction more effectively with the intent of reducing Zoom fatigue, building in more opportunities for student voice and collaboration, and increasing the joy in learning that is a hallmark of our school. The one exception will be on Wednesday afternoons when faculty/staff are in meetings and students will be trained and directed to engage in individual and small group learning on their own.
Otherwise, the goal is to assign as little as possible beyond school hours. Most independent work will be completed during the 75-minute class periods, with as much of that off-camera and off-screen as possible. That said, students work at different rates, so some students may need additional time beyond the school day to complete assignments. For projects, students may spend additional time in order to do their best work.
Teachers and students are still adjusting to the online environment, and so there will be a period of calibration to design class time and independent work effectively. We will survey students and families once a month to assess the workload, but if you notice your child spending an excessive amount of time doing schoolwork in the evenings or weekends, please do let her advisor or someone on the student support team know.
There is a recent report by Common Sense: 2020 Tweens, Teens, Tech, and Mental Health: Coming of Age in an Increasingly Digital, Uncertain, and Unequal World
, where they point to research showing that it is not the amount of time we should be focused on for tweens and teens, but the quality of the content.
Screen time is increasing as adolescents move online to meet virtually all their educational and social needs. Flipping the script on screen time to focus on how versus how much digital technology is being used has always made good sense, as counting hours does not distinguish between very different types of online experiences. This change is especially important now as time online needs to be tailored to meet basic and critical educational and social needs of adolescents.
Increased family conflict is a known contributor to mental health symptoms among adolescents, particularly among adolescent girls, whereas screen time is not. This is not to say that screen time should be unlimited, or that there are no adverse impacts of spending too much sedentary time online. But again, how adolescents use screens, versus the time they are spending on them, should be the focus for families.
While we don’t specifically cover health impacts of being online with the girls, Katie in tech classes speaks to the importance of taking a break from devices, giving their brains, eyes, and bodies a health break when they have a break from class.
Yoga offers the girls a chance to stretch, PE allows the girls to move their bodies, and RISE offers the girls dialogue and discussion around self-care issues.