Readers comments 9-4-20
Council term limits
The city of Los Angeles and many other large cities have adopted term limits of three four-year terms for council members although enactment of term limits are optional for such elected bodies and in fact are avoided by many smaller cities.
Positives for term limits are many, including fresh ideas and encouragement of citizen participation in local government.
Would city council term limits be useful in Claremont? Consideration and discussion of the issue by incumbents and by current and future candidates for council could be of interest, particularly in light of the fact that there are now council districts.
Perhaps I’m being too simplistic, but I think the obvious choice is to rename the park that is adjacent to Chaparral School “Chaparral Park.”
After all, the native plants that were here before the park was built are collectively called “chaparral.” I can’t imagine that anyone would be offended by that, and no one would struggle to pronounce it either. It would also make it easy to find for someone new to the city.
For 23 years I have used a Ward #14 Lesson Plan book for my lesson plans for the school year. It’s no different this year, I still have my Ward #14 ready to go. However, everything inside of it and how I will execute it is different—the COVID-19 pandemic has changed my entire approach.
My colleagues and I are teaching in conditions we have never experienced before and we are working harder than ever to make sure students feel supported and have a strong academic year, even from a distance.
The challenges teachers face this year are multifaceted: engaging students and building community through a computer screen, providing the social and emotional components of learning that are so critical to student success, learning new technology and content delivery platforms and teaching each student how to access these platforms. All of this must occur while working from home without the benefit of colleagues and support staff nearby.
We must learn strategies to engage our students when we aren’t able to stand near them; the subtle art of reading faces and movements to check for understanding is lost. We will be using different methods to ensure that students are processing the material being discussed.
One of the first things we do when school opens is establish group norms for our classrooms. This year, those norms will be slightly different but even more critical in the virtual space. We want our students to have meaningful and appropriately challenging digital experiences and feel empowered to take charge of their learning.
The social and emotional wellness of our students is going to be as important, if not more so, than the day-to-day curriculum. In addition to providing virtual instruction, we must pay close attention, make personal connections, and most importantly, reach out. Claremont Unified School District as well as the district in which I teach have built into our schedules time to connect with students outside of designated instructional hours. I’ve talked to many CUSD teachers and, like me, they are worried about student disconnect and lack of attendance.
We need to be proactive when we see poor attendance patterns or lack of participation and work with parents to help students reconnect and perform at their best in distance learning.
For many students, school is their safe place. The challenge for us now is to create that same feeling of security for students in a virtual setting. Parents are partners and can support teachers by ensuring that their students wake up at a regular time every day for school, eat breakfast, get dressed and are seated and ready to learn in virtual class at the assigned time.
If possible, creating an organized and dedicated workspace can be very helpful to reinforce the behavioral and participatory expectations of distance learning. Parents can best support their children by reaching out if there are technological issues or academic or social/emotional concerns.
We only see small squares of childrens’ faces and work submitted through the internet. We will need the help of students and families to make us aware of things that aren’t easily visible through the computer.
As we begin the year, let’s be patient and show some grace. Everyone, including me, my fellow teachers, students, administrators and parents are going to make mistakes and fall short some days. Many teachers are parents of young children themselves who are not able to be alone or work independently.
Some teachers are new to digital learning platforms and are scrambling to learn and create new lessons and activities. We will have hard days and likely many technological glitches, but in the long run, we will emerge from distance learning as a stronger community, and hopefully, more committed to ensuring equitable and outstanding opportunities for our children in Claremont public schools.
As we embark on the new school year, let’s lean into this together to support our students so that they have the best possible school year.