Featuring Communication with Schools and Families


By Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda

As we read through these examples, we were struck by not only what they were saying but the ways in which each was presented. The tone was invitational, honest, and resilient. They ask their communities to read these with some creative possibilities for the present and a mind to the future. As you read through you may find nuggets of ideas that you might want to imitate or modify for your own communications.


Example 1: From Escola Concept, Brazil

We are always struck by the aesthetic and caring communications that come from Escola Concept. You can see the thoughtful leadership that Priscila provided as they co-created this guide into their “Virtual Village.” They always show the centrality of personalizing learning with habits of mind.

Here is a brief video introducing the Virtual Village:

Here is a link to further explore the manual for the Virtual Village.

A little context from Priscila Torres, Chief Academic Officer—Grupo SEB, Brazil:

Who would have imagined that in 2020, the world would face a pandemic and our regular school routines would be transformed overnight because of COVID-19? While facing this exact scenario, the leadership team at Escola Concept, São Paulo, came together to think interdependently and capitalize on the power of multiple perspectives, abilities, and backgrounds, to decide what the next immediate steps would be upon school closure. Guiding questions structured our conversation.

Here are a few for inspiration: What do teachers need to know to go virtual? What kind of professional development will be offered? How will the professional development be structured? What are the roles of the multiple stakeholders? What do families need to know? How will lessons be structured? How will the day be structured? What will the expectations be for all parts involved?

The first part of the conversation included the Head of School, the Head of Human Services Design and the EdTech Coordinator. Once the initial plan was drafted for all non academic matters, the next step involved the division principals to coordinate the academic part. The format and structure of lessons were discussed. Simplicity, clarity, and strong delivery were crucial to making the plan consistent and aligned to our school’s mission, vision, and pillars. We were cautious to preserve our essence as a school. The format of learning was temporarily changing, but our WHY and our WHO had to remain intact. All members of the leadership team joined the last review and we asked them to wear the many hats of our multiple stakeholders as they engaged with the information, shared questions, reflected upon possible concerns, and offered feedback. The head of marketing, librarian, operations manager, project designer and head of enrollment participated in fine tuning. We used a SWOT protocol to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of our plan and after many iterations we were ready to share the information with our internal community and with the global community so we could inspire other schools. Creating, imagining, and innovating was a habit of mind we explored throughout the experience. We continuously asked ourselves, what is possible? What is another way of looking at this? How could I improve this? We also kept referring to the habit of communicating with clarity and precision. We wanted to ensure we were being understood by our stakeholders. We considered the language we were using to communicate, the intended versus the unintended messages, and ways to ensure our message was being understood. The entire process took about 45 hours. 45 hours later, we were stronger, more committed, more understanding of the different talents within the team, and ready to inspire!


Example 2: From Mason City Schools, OH

Mason City Schools has been knee-deep in their work on Personalized Learning with Habits of Mind for over two years. Their challenge was to continue to grow dispositional thinking and personalized pedagogical moves as they designed remote learning plans for their students.

Here is the PreK-4 Link for Staff.

A little more background context from Krissy Hufnagel, PK-5 Learning Experience Supervisor at Mason City Schools:

On March 12th, the governor of Ohio declared that all Ohio schools would close by end of day March 16th. Our district decided to close down immediately. The moment this happened, our Learning Experience Team convened and as we began to study the implications of a closure we realized that if this closure lasted for any length of time, we needed to ensure that our teachers felt supported and prepared to teach remotely. So we decided to focus on building a resource that would allow our teachers to learn about the intricacies of teaching remotely, in their own remote learning experience. We build two platforms, in order to mimic the work teachers would be doing with their students. Our K-4 teachers worked through a Google Site- knowing that their daily lessons would be emailed home to families. Our 5-12 teachers worked through the same learning options embedded in Schoology (our LMS). Teachers spent a week learning, growing their understanding of best practice in remote experiences, and exploring tools that would allow them to continue delivering quality instruction. This week we are on Spring Break, but when we return, we will have a week of non-graded orientation and testing with families to ensure we are ready to begin full fledged remote instruction the following week. Our teachers are ready! They were given the time to explore, understand, and investigate. I can’t wait to see the ideas they come up with. When this ends, we will all be stronger and we will have learned some new strategies that will impact how we teach forever.


Example 3: From Council Rock Primary School, NY

When Andrea sent this to us, we were so impressed with the way she incorporates the Habits of Mind into a magical and meditative walk with children. Such a relief from the stress we are all experiencing!

Here is the link to the Brickyard Trail Walk.

A little more background context from Andrea Yawman, Extended Studies Service Teacher at Council Rock:

I am attaching an activity guide that I put together: A Habits of Mind Walk on the Brickyard Trail. The Brickyard Trail is a .8 mile path through woods and wetlands right in the heart of our town. It is my favorite place to be during this difficult time. We are going to share this activity guide with all of our students this week, hopefully encouraging them to get some fresh air and use their HOM.


See more posts from Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda.


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