Back-to-School Plan 2020

Distance Learning

Welcome to Hawk's Nest Distance Learning Hub!
Renbrook's Distance Learning program was in full swing throughout the spring semester of 2020. We have been back on campus full-time since the fall and we are so excited to learn together each day. However, should future circumstances warrant, we are prepared to return to our Distance Learning plan. Our daily engagement with our students is robust and our learning continues to be student-centered and engaging whether in-person or remote.

This page contains information about Renbrook School's Distance Learning. (Click here to view our Back-to-School 2020 Plan) Our Distance Learning Plan utilizes asynchronous methodologies for delivery of instruction while integrating synchronous elements to foster meaningful interaction. Academic Leadership works hard each day with faculty to customize Distance Learning Plans that are age-appropriate and mindful of both parent/guardian work schedules and childcare situations that vary greatly throughout our community.

Renbrook is committed to helping the communities we serve with resources and tools to navigate this new learning environment. Parents from any school can email our Distance Learning Information Center with specific questions about remote learning for their children. We’ll connect and share what’s working for us. Email Together we’re bringing distance learning to life.

Please visit our COVID-19 webpage for general information and helpful links regarding this global pandemic.

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  • Important Themes of Distance Learning at Renbrook

    Distance Learning at Renbrook begins with our Mission as our guide. We plan to keep it simple – we will maintain our focus on engaged teaching and learning, always with relationships at the heart of our work, with children at the center of their learning.

    Continuity of curriculum and pedagogy is our focus in this transition period, and live meeting time each day will support this priority. The duration of this time will vary by subject and grade level, and we will adjust according to what's working. Already, we’ve heard from parents in response to early models, and we’ve added additional structure and teacher contact in response. In order to allow for flexibility and independent learning pursuits, we will also employ self-paced, project-based opportunities to build foundational skills, extend learning, and allow students to follow their curiosity and pursue a healthy reading habit.

    We’re aiming to re-establish relationships, set expectations, and conjure some excitement for our new mode of operation. With many hundreds of hours of work spent planning this approach, we’re excited to roll out Phase 1, recognizing that we will make adjustments both on the fly and during an intentional pivot during Phase 2 in the coming weeks as we collect data and evolve in our approach.
  • Curriculum and Instruction

    We are moving to a “distance learning” model not an “online learning” format. Distance learning takes the same pedagogical approaches as normal classroom learning and moves them to an online platform. Distance learning involves some level of live, synchronous learning experiences, while online learning does not necessarily include a cohort of peers or follow a school-like schedule. Clearly a distance learning approach best approximates our normal learning experience, although a mix of the two is our aim. We will use synchronous as well as asynchronous teaching and learning strategies.

    Synchronous Teaching and Learning
    Synchronous teaching and learning requires students to be simultaneously logged into the virtual classroom at the same time as their teacher and classmates. Synchronous sessions are also referred to as live meetings. During these meetings, students will need to have internet access and an internet-enabled device with a camera and microphone. Earbuds or headsets are recommended. The live meeting app for remote learning will be Microsoft Live in the Upper School, and the Lower School will use a combination of Live and Zoom. When students log in to a live class, they are expected to be on camera and able to participate through audio for the duration of the class meeting. Students can unmute and mute themselves throughout class to make contributions according to the teacher’s expectations. If students are unable to participate in a live meeting, the teacher will post the recording for future viewing.

    Asynchronous Teaching and Learning
    Asynchronous is the term used for course materials that teachers have prepared for students ahead of time. Students engage with class materials and complete work at their own pace, typically within a given timeframe, often using discussion boards to drive peer-to-peer engagement.

    Students will spend the majority of their time with the asynchronous course content to prepare for and supplement their time in live sessions. Since students have access to this content 24/7, they can view and complete the material when it fits their schedule. Students will need internet access and should use their school computer. Course material will be designed to be flexible and can be accessed through mobile devices when appropriate.

    We will calibrate this balance of synchronous, live meetings between teacher and classes with asynchronous, self-paced assignments as we get feedback from all constituents. We will have formal opportunities to hear from teachers, students, and parents to identify adjustments quickly to ensure the best mode of delivering our curriculum, ensuring healthy social interactions, and with sensitivity to the efforts of our parent-partners.
  • Daily Schedule - Upper School

    We have designed the Upper School daily schedule during Phase 1 to closely reflect a normal class day with the maintenance of continuity as our goal. The schedule is as follows:
    9:00-9:10 – Morning Meeting
    9:15-9:45 – Period 1
    9:50-10:20 – Period 2
    10:25-10:55 – Period 3
    11:00 -11:30 - Period 4
    11:35-12:05 – Period 5
    12:05-1:05 - Lunch
    1:05-1:35 – Period 6
    1:40-2:10 – Period 7
    2:15-4:00 – extra help avail (M-Th.)
    All materials will be organized and posted through our online learning management system (myRenbrook). In each course, students will find a daily plan posted with a set of tasks for the student to complete prior to each of the required live class meetings. Upper School classes balance synchronous (4 scheduled “live” class periods per week in major academic subjects) with asynchronous (teacher-created videos demonstrating skills, problem-solving, reading, observation, experimentation, projects, and peer collaboration) learning.
  • Daily Schedule - Lower School

    Unique to the Lower School division is a large developmental span that includes children ages three to eleven across eight grade levels. As such, distance learning will hold several varying forms.

    Daily live class meetings will occur for every class in the Lower School. While an 8:30 or 9:00 AM meeting would be ideal for all classes, we have to take into consideration that most Lower School students do not have their own devices. Therefore, the teachers have worked to choose a class meeting time that does not overlap with another class with a sibling(s) so individual households do not have to support two or three simultaneous live class meetings. Additionally, Lower School teachers will be communicating with families via email to set up small group and/or one-on-one live instructional sessions.

    Lower School homeroom teachers will post lessons and assignments for each day of the week that can be completed at the most ideal time for each family. Lower School specialists will be posting lessons and assignments based on their usual weekly schedule. For example, students in first grade usually have art on Tuesdays and Fridays. As such, the art teacher will post two lessons for the week that could be completed on Tuesday or Friday, or any other day in the week that works best for each family.

    Parent feedback will play a significant role during this first week of distance learning. Feedback will enable faculty to make any necessary changes to their lessons and assignments in order to meet the needs of all students and families.
  • What to Expect from Teachers - Upper School

    Teachers are expected to post all instructions, assignments, videos, and learning materials to myRenbrook and class Teams. Many will be posted prior to the start of the week, but others will be posted prior to the start of the day to account for necessary adjustments due to variance in daily progress.

    Workload Guidelines
    Because time will be spent on live class meetings, teachers are aiming to strike a manageable workload for students outside of class. Please provide feedback to your child’s teacher if the expectations are too great.

    Taking attendance
    Teachers and Advisors will make sure each student is connected within their community. We ask that parents send an email to your child’s Advisor and Lisa Terwilliger at if they will be absent for all or a portion of the day.

    Assessments and Grading
    While assessments of learning are an important part of our academic program, they present challenges in a distance learning context. Traditional assessments can put remote students in a tempting position to consult online sources. During Phase 1, we will target mostly small, formative assessments and more creative demonstrations of learning. We believe distance learning will help us explore more creative and student-centered approaches to measuring learning outcomes.
  • What to Expect from Teachers - Lower School

    Lower School teachers are expected to post all announcements, lessons, and assignments for students and parents on MyRenbrook. Many teachers will post prior to the start of the week, but some will post prior to the start of a school day to account for any necessary adjustments due to student or parent feedback.

    Workload Guidelines
    Lower School teachers will be using their regular schedule to guide daily lessons and assignments. On average, students and families can expect to spend 2-10 minutes for each content area viewing a teaching video and 10-30 minutes of student work on an assignment or activity. The timing will vary depending on the content area and the student. It will be very important for students and families to provide direct feedback to teachers so they can make any adjustments necessary to ensure optimal learning and continued skill development.

    Lower School teachers will make sure each student is connected within their class community. We ask parents to send an email to their child’s teacher and Tia Raimo at should any student be absent for all or a portion of each school day.

    Assessments and Student Work
    Lower School teachers will be in communication with families to determine the most efficient way to transmit student work. Not all households have access to a scanner. In some cases, parents may be asked to take a photo of their child’s work and email the photo to the teacher. In other cases, especially in the upper grades in Lower School, students will be working within Word docs or Microsoft Teams and will be able to share their work electronically with their teachers. Small group and one-on-one live video chats will also provide opportunities for assessment and feedback.
  • Student Expectations - Upper School

    Students should do their best to establish a daily routine for class time and school work. Here are some helpful recommendations:

    1. You should treat online learning just as you would a normal academic day. Find a comfortable and distraction-free place that you can work from. Teachers will communicate with you via email and post assignments to myRenbrook. If clarification is needed about an assignment, you should communicate with your teacher before the assignment is due.
    2. When joining live meetings, you should be respectful of your teachers and your fellow classmates. It is best practice to have your microphone on mute and ask questions when they arise. Always put forth your best effort and communicate with your teachers whenever you have academic questions or if you believe you are not meeting class expectations.
    3. We will employ a relaxed dress code for our live sessions.
    4. We are extremely proud of our community of trust. There will be new challenges and temptations to adhering to the expectations of our Honor Code. We believe in the moral compass that we have developed together. Please ask your teacher if you have any questions about the expectations of individual vs. collaborative work.
  • Grading Policy

    Finally, we want to share important changes to our grading policy in the Upper School. Because the grades students earn are used for many high-stakes decisions - course placement, graduation, secondary school placement, and more - the guiding principle of teaching, assessment, and grading at Renbrook during distance learning is to do no harm. In this way, we act in the best interest of our students and their families during this time of unprecedented stress and anxiety.
    For spring term, two grades will be assigned on the report card: Pass or Incomplete instead of traditional letter grades. A student will “pass” spring term if they meet the standards of their course. If a student is struggling or has significant absences from school for any reason, they will be assigned an “incomplete” and will be provided support, time, and opportunities to fulfill requirements. Year-end grades will be calculated based on an average of the fall and winter terms.
    Teachers will continue to provide detailed formative feedback to students in support of their learning that will include guidance on how to learn, improve, and grow. Spring term comments will document student progress across a variety of criteria.
  • Community, Advisory, and Wellness - Upper School

    The connections between teachers and students and between students and their peers are more important than ever. We have been very intentional in providing these touchpoints and additional services outlined below:
    • We will conduct a virtual daily Morning Meeting each day at 9 AM using Microsoft Live. Login links are shared via myRenbrook.
    • Advisory groups will meet on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. We hope this time will be an anchor, providing help and support while keeping us all connected as a community.
    • Learning and counseling support, even if a student has not used those services before, will be available to students and consultations will be available to families. Please reach out to Theresa Dawson about learning support and Kelley Reiss about counseling support.
    • Students who regularly work with Linda Wood will be contacted to set up virtual sessions. Instructions for accessing the virtual meeting will be provided.
    • All students and families are welcome and encouraged to contact Kara Ashley with questions and to access support while working from home.
  • Technology and Our Learning Management System

    As with any distance learning program, we will require devices and software to communicate assignments, to deliver live lessons, and to execute some assignments. We’ve also made an effort to assignment work and create projects disconnected from a device. 
    • Students in the Upper School will use the device that they’ve been using all year, and it should be equipped with a camera, microphone, and internet access.
    • Students in the Lower School should have some access to an internet-connected computer or tablet.
    • Our Learning Management System, myRenbrook, will be the primary mode of communication and distribution of assignments. We will also use the Microsoft Suite of software and Zoom for some video conferencing.
    • If students need any help with technology, please reach out to the tech department ( We are ready to provide full remote support to all students and families so students can continue to learn and maintain the continuity of our program.
  • Parent Guidelines

    Under normal circumstances, our home-school partnership is a strength of our program and we are extremely grateful for parent support. Distance learning will require new demands on parents to guide, and sometimes cajole, students to maintain their academic progress. While this will require more parent attention, we do not expect you to be your child’s teacher or tutor. If your child is struggling to meet their teacher’s expectations, please contact their teacher or Division Director.

    For dual working households with limited childcare options, we understand that well-meaning academic assignments can pose a hardship. We appreciate your best efforts to support your child, and we pledge to work with you find the right balance of formal academic engagement and informal, self-guided pursuits.

    Below, we’ve provided some helpful tips to strike a productive balance for your child’s distance learning experience:
    • Work with your child to create a learning space at home that you can actively monitor and where you can provide the necessary support.
    • Talk with your child to outline a daily schedule that allows them time to do work and take breaks.
    • Help your child to stay connected with friends from school remotely but in healthy ways.
    • Make a daily plan for movement, exercise, and fresh air.
    • Help your child to limit electronic distractions, manage screen time, and promote a healthy media diet.
    • Your child will likely have more time and more of a desire to engage in group phone chats or social media. As always, we highly encourage you to monitor this activity.
    • Talk with your child about what they are thinking and feeling. These two recent articles share helpful advice for parents:
             5 Ways to Help Teens Manage Anxiety About the 

             Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus
    • Support your child in self-advocating and maintaining communication with their teachers.

Stay Connected with Hawk's Nest Distance Learning Hub

We love to see and hear how our students and families are doing. Please keep in touch with us. There are many ways to do that!
  • Send photos, videos, and stories that you are comfortable sharing to Barb Doyle in Marketing & Communications for use on our website and social media. 
  • Share photos, videos, and stories directly on our social channels at:
    • Instagram: @renbrookschool
    • Facebook: @renbrook
  • Use hashtags:
    • #RenbrookProud
    • #RenbrookSchool
    • #RenbrookRemote
    • #RenbrookAtHome
    • #RenbrookSpirit
    • #BringingLearningtoLife
    • #WeAreRenbrook
    • #gohawksgo
    • #RenbrookHawks
    • #HawksatHome
    • #TogetheratHome

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    Class interactions happen via our Learning Management System (Class Pages on myRenbrook) without real-time interaction. Students engage in class materials and complete work at their own pace, typically within a given timeframe, often using discussion boards to drive peer-to-peer engagement.

    Class interactions happen in real-time, at the same time. Students may virtually attend class together via video conference, live stream, or chat. 

    A virtual meeting in which participants in different locations are able to communicate with each other with audio and video. We will use Microsoft Teams.

    A digital video recording of the teacher's computer screen, usually including audio narration. Screencasts are a form of instructional video.
If you have technical issues or questions about school-supported devices, please email Tech Support.

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