Being at Bement has always meant, first and foremost, being together. Students, teachers, and staff look forward to times when we collectively study architecture during a mini-term or flock outside to see the ginkgo tree outside Barton House shower its leaves onto Old Main Street. As we head into the next weeks, teachers and students are faced with a new challenge: How can we be apart and still feel together? How can we continue the Bement teaching and learning experience from a distance?
As I write this post, teachers are engaged in their own learning. They are challenging themselves intellectually and stretching beyond their comfort zones, something we encourage our students to do every day as part of our Bement mission. Teachers are creating a co-synchronous learning model via Google Classrooms containing assignments and activities that will help students continue to develop their voices and opinions, share their art and ideas, contribute to and reflect upon their classmates’ contributions to online discussions, and develop new learning skills and independence.
Teachers are designing remote classrooms that will encourage students to collaborate virtually and where they can regularly respond to students’ questions and assignments, and also provide guidance, constructive criticism, and assessment of students’ work. Teachers’ approaches will help our students continue to develop their ability to be resilient learners.
Though we will not be able to stand side-by-side during this time, teachers will still find ways to pique students’ curiosity about the world around them. That might mean researching world cultures using online databases and reporting back to classmates, writing and revising a short story using feedback from teachers and peers in a shared document, observing tree buds and leaves in your own backyard to gather and share local phenology data, or measuring the perimeter of their family’s kitchen for a real-world math assignment. Through videos, guided research, live chats, curated resources, and frequent feedback and advice, teachers and students will continue to create the climate of acceptance, kindness, and challenge that is Bement.
Bement’s path forward in this unprecedented time in our students’ (and our own) lives is one that will allow all of our students, no matter their location or time zone, to connect meaningfully with their teachers and classmates. Students can work at the pace that is right for them, which allows for a schedule flexible enough to fit each family’s needs. We are committed to the integrity of a Bement education, which values collaboration, community, and challenge, as well as the importance of monitoring the quantity of our children’s screen time. Our approach to learning at home values Bement’s dedication to the whole child, as daily workouts, nature explorations, and art projects are also part of our days, whether we are on campus or online.
We know that families are living through great uncertainty and challenge, both personally and professionally, and we want to do all we can to support you and to continue to be a community that offers all its members compassion and empathy. Please know that we are here for you and your children. We encourage you to be in touch with us via email or phone when you need us.