A Special Thank You During Teacher Appreciation Week
During this time of distance learning, The Langley School’s students, parents, and teachers are balancing new ways of working, learning, and interacting as they partner to bring the Langley experience to life from home. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we salute our amazing faculty for their flexibility, creativity, and dedication as they adjust to this new method of teaching while providing our students with meaningful, engaging lessons. Our faculty has masterfully reinvented how they teach – and how they connect with their students and each other – while also managing a new set of routines in their own homes.
Like many professions, teaching via distance learning has come with a set of adjustments. When interviewing several teachers to understand how their days have evolved, we heard a few themes as they thought about how to reprioritize their time to create meaningful moments in a new environment. Our teachers are thinking deeply about how to provide thoughtful lessons that will reach and engage the students they know so well. Maintaining these personal, attentive, one-on-one connections with their students – a hallmark of the Langley experience which comes naturally in the classroom – takes a new type of coordination and planning that is critically important to all teachers.
While settling into these new rhythms and skills, teachers are also finding their inspiration and joy from connecting with their students, seeing them during live meetings and lessons, and watching their academic progress as they grasp new concepts. Students’ individual personalities, humor, and positive attitudes are also shining through in different and motivating ways.
So what does a typical day look like for a Langley teacher during distance learning? We follow three teachers as they navigate the current environment.
Kindergarten: Sami Eghtesadi
Kindergarten teacher Sami Eghtesadi’s day begins at 8:00 a.m. as she logs on to her computer to communicate with parents and colleagues. At 8:45 a.m., she eagerly greets her students during a live morning meeting which also consists of a show and tell from several students and virtual class games to reinforce morning meeting routines. Next up are daily office hours when Ms. Eghtesadi “meets” individually with students and parents to answer any questions about lessons and connect. “I love hearing about my students’ new pets, loose teeth, family and neighborhood adventures, or the newest shows or movies they’ve watched,” she says, noting the importance of maintaining personal connections with her students.
In coordination with her assistant teacher, Ms. Faisal, Ms. Eghtesadi spends late morning planning and recording writing lessons for the upcoming week, as well as connecting virtually with the entire kindergarten team to brainstorm, share feedback, and coordinate lessons. Her afternoon consists of reviewing students’ work and recording her audio feedback through programs like Seesaw, monitoring student participation and engagement on literacy apps like Epic! and Raz-Kids, and recording read-alouds which she posts on daily assignment grids. Once the official school day ends, Ms. Eghtesadi closes the loop on any outstanding items with parents and colleagues, generates interactive extension ideas for her students, and looks through her attic for costumes and props to incorporate into spirit days and lessons. She leverages her weekend time to plan for the upcoming week, working out any technical glitches, creating agendas for live morning meetings, and inviting specialists to join in upcoming live moments.
Grade 1: Maddy Cohen
With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, first-grade teacher Maddy Cohen kicks off her morning at 8:00 a.m. by communicating with parents and colleagues and reviewing the live lesson plan for the day. At 8:55 a.m., she connects with her class using Google Meet for a live, 35-minute phonics lesson on vowel teams, providing students with a purposeful opportunity to interact with her and their peers. She spends the next hour correcting assignments submitted yesterday via Seesaw and provides feedback to each student before partnering with parents who may have questions and beginning to plan upcoming math lessons. At 11:00 a.m., Ms. Cohen logs back in to Google Meet for individual live meetings with her students to answer questions and find out how they’re doing.
After a quick lunch break, she has a video chat with Ms. Graves, math specialist, to coordinate math plans for the following week, then films herself teaching an engaging math lesson using ScreenCastify. “I usually use ExplainEverything for a virtual whiteboard, virtual base 10 blocks online, and Google Slides to include visuals,” says Ms. Cohen, who uploads the video to Seesaw along with assignments for students to complete. The next hour is spent meeting virtually with the entire first-grade team to check in, discuss upcoming live lessons, and plan pacing for the next few weeks. Ms. Cohen rounds out her afternoon by inputting math plans into her lesson grids, creating tomorrow’s morning message video, and sorting through her inbox to understand what adjustments she may need to make to her upcoming lessons. Because she prioritizes her weekdays with student check-ins, meetings, and live lessons, she typically reserves a few hours each weekend for planning and recording lesson videos, preparing live lessons and morning meetings, and reviewing student work on Seesaw.
Grade 6 Social Studies: Meghan Meyer
Sitting at her dining room table with two laptops, Middle School social studies teacher Meghan Meyer makes her to-do list for the day at 8:00 a.m. She spends the next 30 minutes connecting with her students via e-mail on topics which range from assignment questions to real-world observations they have about something they studied in class. At 9:00 a.m., she joins the live Middle School morning meeting and loves seeing the entire Middle School interact in the chat function in a thoughtful and constructive way as they solve a puzzle. Each week, she looks forward to her live sixth-grade social studies class via Google Meet. “I have been so impressed by how eager my students are to dive into whatever activity we are doing or topic we are learning about,” she says. “I try to share something about my life and let students share something about their own lives, too. My dog, Boomer, is a frequent class guest and generates many questions from students!”
After class, Ms. Meyer reads through yesterday’s student work in Google Classroom and catches up with grades before grabbing some lunch. At 1:00 p.m., she resumes grading, contacts students about any missing work, does one-on-one check-ins with students, and continues to communicate with students who have questions or need clarification. To ensure she connects with colleagues about distance learning, Ms. Meyer also participates in Virginia Association of Independent Schools virtual meetings with teachers statewide and checks in regularly with Langley’s supportive sixth-grade team. She spends “Flex Fridays” preparing for her next live class. “For me, it has been a fun puzzle to think about how to create engagement and cooperation in this new format, and I appreciate my students’ willingness to ‘jump in’ with me and provide feedback,” Ms. Meyer adds. She spends a few hours each weekend tweaking and revising her lesson plans and creating Google Classroom assignments before posting them to her class grid on Sunday.
We thank our teachers for all they are doing to ensure our students remain engaged, inspired, challenged, and connected during these unprecedented times. And we thank Langley’s amazing community of parents for their partnership, flexibility, and understanding in helping us deliver our curriculum virtually. We are proud of this shared partnership and the resulting outcomes.
For Langley families, we hope you’ll join us for our upcoming webinar titled “Designing Langley’s Distance Learning” on Monday, May 11 at 2:00 p.m. (registration details are on MyLangley). And watch for a new video we will be sharing with Langley parents that captures how families are navigating distance learning at home.