Virtual Learning FAQ
Our philosophy in a virtual environment:
Yes, not only will we be able to to honor our philosophy, but our way of teaching actually makes it easier for us to give online classes. The skills which students need to be successful in virtual classrooms are the ones we have always focused on:
- risk-taking and persistence
- critical thinking
- ability to accept and use feedback
- time management skills
- communication skills
- metacognitive skills
Our teachers were already familiar with many of the apps and strategies that are being recommended for online teaching, but in order to improve, during the summer our staff took online classes about effective virtual teaching, how to engage students online, and how to use new apps.
The fact that we have never used textbooks, also helped us move into this new learning environment. Our students are used to asking questions, researching answers and being in charge of their own learning. This independence helped them make a smoother transition to remote learning. Our workshop style classes and our focus on individualized learning made the change much easier for both our students and our teachers.
In August we spent two weeks in professional development modeling interactive and engaging virtual classes. Teachers will be engaging students through:
- The use of Zoom and/or Meet breakout sessions for student collaboration.
- Interactive online lessons using apps like Flipgrid, Padlet, Peardeck and Nearpod.
- Inquiry based learning that makes lessons relevant to students’ lives and interests.
- Jigsaw and other cooperative learning strategies.
- Peer feedback protocols.
- Gamification through apps like Quizizz, Kahoot and other game-like strategies.
- Choice boards.
Group and teamwork is an essential part of our philosophy, and as such will be used in virtual learning as well. Students will collaborate in a number of ways:
- In small group breakout rooms.
- On shared Google documents or slides.
- Using collaborative apps such as Jamboard.
TCFL’s philosophy is based on meeting the different needs and learning styles of students. This will continue during virtual learning. Students will have opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Teachers will have online classes in which they will give short mini-lessons and teacher guided activities. Then students may work independently or in class as they see fit. Teachers will keep their Zoom or Google Meet classes open so that students can join them when they need help and they will meet with students in one-to-one conferences as necessary. Teachers will be using different formats for allowing students to work at their own pace such as choice boards, long term projects, and inquiry based learning. Depending on the grade-level, teachers will be finding a balance between virtual and paper-and-pencil assignments in order to ensure adequate progress and development of both.
Our evaluation system will continue to be the same. TCFL’s non-traditional grading system is the one that specialists are recommending schools use during virtual learning.
- In elementary, students will be evaluated along a continuum of skills and teachers will meet them at their level. Teachers will continue to use rubrics and self-assessment to help students understand where they are in their learning process. Narrative report cards allow us to focus on the process of learning, rather than on grades.
- As in the past, in secondary, students will be evaluated using rubrics on a 1 - 5 point scale. Formative assessment is essential to our teaching practice; therefore, teachers will continue to give students feedback and opportunities to improve their work. Students will use self-assessment in order to become independent learners and to clearly see their strengths and areas that need improvement.
Throughout the school, we maintain proper communication with parents to ensure that they’re informed in case their child is not doing well and needs extra support either at home or in school. As usual, elementary parents can expect feedback about their child's progress about twice a month and more frequently if necessary. It is important to allow your children (especially 3rd grade and up) to work independently and allow the teachers to follow-up with them in regards to their school work. If a situation arises or your child isn't turning in assignments, the teacher will inform you immediately. We want to continue to foment independence and self-advocacy.
While MAP proved to be a very useful tool for gathering data about student learning, it is a long process that is difficult to implement while everyone is at home. While we are teaching virtually, teachers will be using more student friendly diagnostic assessments to ascertain where students are on the learning continuum. They will be using a variety of assessment tools such as running records, Common Lit assessments, leveled texts, Connected Math Program, Delta Math, among others.
Our teachers are trained in doing ongoing assessment and differentiating instruction in order to meet the diverse needs of their students. They will use whole group, small group, and individual instruction as needed.
In Elementary (preschool-5th grade), there is a 30 minute period at the end of the day which will serve as a time to work in small groups or individually with students. This also serves as a Q & A period to clarify any assignments and misunderstandings for students that might need it. This, in addition to conferences and group work during class, will allow the teachers to follow up with learners and work on the necessary areas.
In Secondary, teachers will be meeting with students in one-on-one conferences to meet their individual needs. For reinforcement we don’t use tutoring, but rather individualized teaching. We only suggest tutoring when students need help in skill development or have difficulties learning in certain areas.
Parent roles will differ depending on the age of their children:
- The youngest children will need adult support in turning on computers, connecting to the meetings, and following lessons. However, we don’t expect parents to play the role of the teacher. Students learn at their own pace and some will take longer than others. Teachers will be checking work and providing feedback. If parents feel that their children are not understanding the material, they should reach out to the teacher to discuss their concerns.
- Older children are capable of working independently; however, they may need supervision and follow up in order to stick to a schedule (going to bed at a reasonable time, getting up in time for classes), to complete assignments, and to avoid distractions like video games.
- It is important to allow your children (especially 3rd grade and up) to work independently and allow the teachers to follow-up with them in regards to their school work. If a situation arises or your child isn't turning in assignments, the teacher will inform you immediately. We want to continue to foment independence and self-advocacy.
Teachers will use several techniques for measuring student engagement:
- During face to face classes, students will take part in discussions that will help teachers gauge their understanding and motivation.
- Teachers will use ongoing assessment such as Quizizz, Kahoot, entrance
slips, small exercises to measure students’ ongoing understanding.
- When students are in breakout rooms, teachers will conference with them
in small groups or individually to evaluate them and to give them differentiated lessons and support.
- Students will share their documents with teachers so that teachers can see them working. Teachers will be able to check in to see that students are actively engaged and also to see if they need additional help.
- Teachers will be leading brain break activities between classes to ease the transition between subjects and will also be promoting movement throughout the school day. This will help keep students alert and get their blood flowing so they are ready to learn.
Students will check into their virtual classrooms with their teachers. Student attendance is reported daily in each class. If a student is having trouble coming to class on time, the school will contact the family to find solutions.
Our discipline will continue to be the same. We will be using restorative practices to allow students to reflect on their behaviour, learn to self-monitor their emotions and reactions, and to build positive and healthy relationships. More information about restorative practices can be found here.
Teachers will be holding morning meetings and making time for social-emotional check-ins during the week. TCFL’s psychology department will be observing classes and working closely with teachers to check up on students. This will help us identify any students that may need individual follow-up from the department. In addition, we invite parents to contact the school with any questions or concerns regarding their child’s demeanor at home. Monthly meetings will be held to give tips and strategies to parents on how to deal with this situation.
If parents have concerns they can contact our psychologists directly:
- elementary school: Laura Acra: email@example.com
- secondary school: Carolina Moreno: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the moment we will not be holding extra-curricular classes on the campus. We will only do so when we are given permission by Minerd.
We will be looking into any virtual interactive activities, such as Model UN, inviting specialists into our classrooms or becoming involved in Math Olympics or virtual conferences.
Until we are given permission to have students on campus we will not be holding open space activities. As time goes on and we see how the country evolves in relation to Covid, we may consider open space activities outside the campus.
In elementary school, teachers will continue to use Remind as a communication platform.
In secondary school teachers will send out homework notices (love notes) to let parents know when students are failing to complete work. When we see an ongoing issue with understanding in a particular class Ylonka or Lorena will contact the parents for a conference.
Teachers are always available to talk to parents. Contact the office to set up an appointment:
- Elementary school: Lourdes 809-563-2708 ext 101, or 829-659-7367 (cel)
- Secondary school: Marlene 809-563-2708 ext 106, or 809 284-7054 (cel)
We have several means of communication:
- We send out regular emails with updates and important information
- TCFL regularly uses its social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) to send out information
- Our website will be updated regularly with Covid information.
- We will send SMS messages through our website whenever we have new information to share.
If you have any questions about payment plans please contact:
- Belkis: 809-563-2708 ext 102
If you have financial concerns :
- Lynn: 808-563-2708 ext 101
For academic concerns please call Lourdes at 809-563-2708 ext 101 to make an appointment with:
- Elementary: Shiselle
- Secondary grades 7 - 10: Ylonka
- Secondary grades 11 - 12: Lorena
For psycho/emotional concerns please call Lourdes at 809-563-2708 ext 101 to make an appointment with:
- Elementary: Laura
- Secondary: Carolina
For medical questions call our doctor::
- Angie: 809-563-2708 ext 103
Technology: Security and Connectivity
Our teachers use either Google Meet or Zoom as platforms for class meetings. Both platforms have improved their security features since educators began using them in March. Teachers control safety in several ways:
- Using a waiting room, so students are identified before they can enter.
- Only TCFL email addresses are accepted into online classes, therefore only people with an @tcfl.edu.do email address may enter.
- Both Google Meet and Zoom are encrypted for security purposes.
- TCFL invested in the advanced Zoom platform, Seesaw for lower elementary, and the Sibme (online coaching platform) to support teacher professional development.
- We also invested in the online elementary math program to support students in virtual learning.
- We also registered with a second internet provider since one was not able to meet our wifi bandwidth needs during virtual learning and installed additional lines.
- We bought cameras and microphones for all classroom computers so that teachers can teach virtually or in a hybrid situation from the campus.
- TCFL invested in webinars and conferences for coaches and directors so that they could learn virtual teaching strategies to share with their teachers. Many teachers also opted to attend online classes during the summer.
- In order to prepare for eventual hybrid learning, we invested in;
- sinks that can be turned on by knee pressure (to avoid touching taps with hands).
- sun shades in order to have more shady areas throughout the school for outdoor classes and activities.
- hand sanitation stations throughout the school as well as hand sanitizer for classrooms and sanitizing sprays for regular cleaning of classroom equipment.
- signage to help remind students to wash their hands, wear their masks, and follow social distancing protocols.
- face shields for all staff and students.
No, we will not be able to reduce prices because our costs have not been reduced. The majority of our costs are represented by teacher salaries and student books and materials. This year we have had additional expenses to prepare for both virtual and hybrid learning situations. TCFL has not raised its prices in the last 3 years since the DR has been facing economic difficulties and we wanted to support our parents in any way possible.