Life in the Grade II and IV Remote Pods

St. Bernard’s offers a fully remote option for families whose sons cannot come back to school for various reasons.  Approximately 8% of our students are participating remotely and the faculty is working hard to translate the St. B’s experience to an online setting.  The majority of the remote boys are in grades I-IV and a few weeks into school, it was decided that those grades needed their own “remote pods” with a dedicated teacher. 

The Grade II remote learning pod is led by Ms. Sednaoui who teaches from a tiny room with just enough space for a computer and a blackboard.  The group is currently six boys strong, but can accommodate others if a boy needs to stay home due to a quarantine.  The boys were kind enough to answer a few questions about remote learning. “Remote school is fun because you don’t have to wake up early, you can just get up and get dressed and you are ready to go,” remarked Yash K.  Pasha B. jumped in to remind the group that he is in Texas and he is an hour earlier.  The remote boys wear their uniforms every day, including a jacket and tie on Fridays.  Reading and math are favorite subjects and the class says it is not hard to learn over the computer.  At first it was tricky to click in and out of different classes, but now it’s pretty easy according to the group.  While the boys spend the majority of their time with Ms. Sednaoui, they join an in-person second grade class at certain points during the week for special classes like music, carpentry, and science.  Ms. Sednaoui remarks, “I am continuously impressed with the boys dedication to learning while at home. They make it look easy- and I know that it is not!  Although we are not in person, their personalities and enthusiasm shine through. Each morning meeting, we check the weather for four different cities or towns, but our days spent together on Zoom make us feel close and connected.” 

The 4th grade also has a relatively large number of remote boys, nine at the moment, and they are lucky to have Mr. Kiok as their dedicated teacher.  The remote classes are following the same curriculum as their in-person peers, so if a boy is able to come back to school at some point, he may rejoin his homeroom without too much trouble.  “I work closely with the other Grade IV teachers to make sure we are keeping up with the content being done at school,” noted Mr. Kiok. “The boys have adjusted well to this format, becoming adept at submitting homework through Google Classroom, and taking  responsibility for arriving on time and prepared to work.  Their continued effort and dedication to their studies despite the distance  is to be commended.”  

Mr. Kiok also reports that the boys in his online group are able to work together across the digital divide, sharing screens with each other to aid with visual explanations and working with partners in ‘breakout rooms’ for certain activities. “I like that I am able to give the boys opportunities to interact with each other as much as possible,” said Mr. Kiok.  Organizing the boys into teams for ‘Jeopardy’ games based on curriculum units has proven effective in adding to the excitement of learning about Ancient Rome, for example.

Ms. Schoen and Ms. Fraser teach smaller remote pods in first grade and third grade, respectively.  There are a handful of remote boys in grades V - IX and those boys participate via Zoom in the live lessons that are taking place in the classroom.  High-definition cameras allow the remote students to see their teacher and the blackboard.  Document cameras provide a remote student a closer look at work done with paper and pencil.  Faculty members such as Mr. Hill check in with the remote boys to make sure they are on track with their work.  The Student Support Services Department is also standing by if any challenges arise.

Periodically an in-person student may need to be remote for a short period of time, and they either Zoom into the classroom or switch to the remote pod depending on the circumstances. 

We certainly miss these boys and are looking forward to welcoming them back in school next year.  Despite the distance, they remain a very important part of the St. B’s community.