An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Community Diary

Throughout distance learning, we'll be collecting our stories in a series of Community Diaries. Do you have an idea for a Community Diary? Let us know!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Community Diary: Doing School...From Home! with Dr. Nan Dreher

The next entry in our "Doing home!" Community Diary features Dr. Nan Dreher, who teaches Upper School History.

I'm doing school at home in a little anteroom with glass doors at the top of the staircase in my house. I'm not sure what purpose this room originally served (I live in an old Victorian house).  It's a bit of a mystery -- but now it's my office!

When distance learning started, we had a little family negotiation about who would be where and how we could spread out, now that we have two adults, an Upper School student, and a college student all working from home. Having just moved back to Minnesota from London six months ago, we're actually all feeling really grateful right now to be living in our house rather than in our very small London flat, where we would have all been just a few feet apart from each other ... with really spotty Wifi, too.

We quickly realized that we needed to have a family discussion about how to signal each other when we were busy working, or available to chat/have lunch/take a walk. We've agreed that a closed door means "don't interrupt," and the kitchen is the spot for breaks and socializing.  Things are smoother now.

One silver lining has been that everyone is getting a little more sleep with no commute (we live half an hour from SPA) plus a later start on most days.  
Another silver lining is how lucky we are at SPA to have a laptop program and some experience with using interactive learning platforms.  I'm trying to use this as an opportunity to build new skills and try out new methods of teaching/learning. No one can sit in front of a screen all day. Get up, take breaks, go outside for a few minutes if you can. I've also been knitting, doing jigsaw puzzles, baking, taking walks in the park and looking for signs of spring.  We've been rediscovering our old board games.  And unpacking the last few boxes from our move last summer.

We're trying to stay flexible and roll with what happens.  There have been mix-ups over timings, Wifi crashes, inconvenient doorbells, contradictory emails. There's been some miscommunication about people eating each other's lunches.  I think all of my teaching colleagues are being extra understanding right now when we, or students, have little glitches.  We're all doing the best we can, and we know that we'll be able to continue learning and come out of this with a lot of new insights into what "school" can mean.

Do you have a "Doing home!" story to share? Submit it here!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Community Diary: Doing School...From Home! with Senorita Libby

The next entry in our "Doing home!" Community Diary features Libby Arnosti, who teaches Lower School Spanish.

I'm doing school at home in my art studio-turned-classroom, a tiny bedroom room off my kitchen. I chose to set up my office there because it's a private space in the house where I'm already used to getting creative.

Something that I've learned already from working at home is that even though I am mourning the loss of in-person connection at school with my students, I can still create a real connection with them through videos and voice comments on Seesaw. That is something that has given me some much-needed optimism!

Do you have a "Doing home!" story to share? Submit it here!


Friday, April 3, 2020

Community Diary: Doing School...From Home! with Carrie Clark

The first entry in our "Doing home!" Community Diary features Carrie Clark, who teaches Middle School English.

I am "doing school" in my study on the third floor of my house, in what used to be a storage closet. My mom and I converted it into a study for me several years ago, and it's the only room in our house that is just for me. It contains most of my books and lots of sweet objects that my students have made or given to me. I love it, and I love sharing it with my students in this little way. I set up my office up here because it's quiet, removed from the rest of my house, and allows me to set some work-life boundaries (sort of).

Working from home has its benefits: my dog Otis is with me all day, and I am on time for everything! But what I've learned during this first week--even just these first two days of distance learning--is how much I miss my colleagues! I already knew I missed my students terribly--that has been on my mind for a while--but I didn't think about not being able to bump into a colleague in the commons and share a joke or ask for advice. 

In a way, I'm glad to be missing my students and my colleagues. It makes me remember not to take any of what we have at SPA for granted. 

Do you have a "Doing home!" story to share? Submit it here!