On March 17, Golda Och Academy moved from in-person to remote instruction following the notice from our Head of School, Mr. Shapiro, in an email to our community on Thursday, March 12. Following Governor Murphy’s announcement on Monday, May 4, it was determined that remote instruction would continue for the duration of the 2019-20 school year.
Students and teachers moved seamlessly to a model of remote learning and instruction that is based upon and follows GOA’s core values. Our dynamic curricula, partnership with families and deep faculty-student relationships guide teachers on how best to continue engaging remote instruction. While faculty may not cover all of the concepts and skills they would teach in an in-person setting, they are well-equipped to decide what is most critical among their instructional goals and allow those priorities to guide their teaching.
Strong community, collaboration and respect are the foundation of successful remote instruction. Those principles, and GOA’s commitment to Social-Emotional Learning, equip our faculty and guidance counselors with the tools they need to help our students and families navigate the uncertainty and heightened anxiety we are all feeling as a result of COVID-19. Empathy and understanding are our driving forces.
While remote instruction cannot completely replicate in-class learning, our faculty has worked diligently to create a robust and vibrant student experience for all of our students from Pre-K through 12th grade. GOA’s strategic and intentional blend of asynchronous and synchronous instruction provides our students with the opportunity to continue to thrive and grow. This is done through a variety of formats which include real-time class meetings (synchronous), guided learning (asynchronous), and offline exploration (e.g., writing, calculating by hand, fine art projects, reading and coding and design - to name a few). This structure is also designed to balance a student’s screen time while maximizing learning.
Asynchronous and Synchronous Instruction:
During asynchronous learning, students explore course content independently. Teachers guide this type of instruction by providing tools for learning, including but not limited to: posted videos, online resources, and directed projects and tasks that allow students to practice and master key skills. Asynchronous learning may take place on a set schedule outlined by the school or at times of a student/family’s choice during the school day. Teachers make themselves available for support and assistance as needed in order to answer questions and provide feedback.
During synchronous instruction, students are engaged in learning together and “live” with the teacher. Students attend class through Google Meet or Zoom video conferences set up by their teachers. The access links are posted on the teacher’s class page (in the Upper School) and on a centralized electronic schedule (in the Lower School). During synchronous learning, students may interact with a live presentation by the teacher, collaborate simultaneously on a shared Google Doc, or participate in other formats such as small group discussion and responding to posed questions orally or in the chat function.
During remote instruction, students are expected to participate actively in their learning daily. Students and teachers connect regularly- as whole classes, in small groups and individually- to study new concepts and skills and to build connections between new and previously learned material.
While away from campus, we have added significant interactive online experiences at different times during the week that foster continued connections between students, between students and teachers/staff, and between school and family. Our students begin their day with the warmth and positivity of a Lower School Morning Message from Mrs. Siegel and a fun filled Morning Show “Live with Mr. H!” with Mr. Herskowitz. Interactive school contests, grade level and campus kahoots, club lunches and student council videos keep everyone smiling even while we are apart.
The partnership between school and home remains at the heart of everything we do. For all students - Pre-K through 12th grade - teachers and administrators are in regular contact regarding modifications to the schedule and updated programming. Our Guidance Counselors and Learning Specialists also facilitate check-in meetings with students and parents, offering one on one sessions and support when beneficial.
While on remote instruction, our experiential learning opportunities have evolved in a range of creative ways. Faculty on both campuses have collaborated to offer new activities to keep our students and community connected, including: Special Tefillah (prayer) services, Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdalah services, Pesach and Shavuot enrichment activities, Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) commemorations, school sing alongs, Shabbatonim, and our Annual Choral Festival (Kolot HaYam). We have also reimagined our grade level milestones and celebrations to applaud student achievement with a virtual Biography Day, Science Fair, Torah Text Fair, Siddur Celebration, Rosh Chodesh Celebration, trips to Washington DC and Philadelphia and 5th Grade Moving Up Ceremony.
Our strong commitment to Israel education continues to permeate our school with ongoing programming with our Rishonim (young Israeli emissaries) as well as a meaningful commemoration of Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers) and a ruach (spirit) filled celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day).
We are grateful to our dedicated faculty, staff, students and families for their flexibility, passion and inspiration that continue to cultivate student growth and development.
For specific information about our remote student learning experience, please explore the links on this page.