We are proud of the way that JCHS students and faculty worked so hard to make the extraordinary pivot in April to our temporary distance learning plan. We all learned a lot from that experience.
For example, we learned that juggling too many different classes on one day is supremely challenging for many students. We learned how to engage more directly and constructively in online settings. We also learned that some students need different types of support for online learning compared to in-person learning.
No matter what the coming year may bring, we know that our community will meet this moment with the resilience and determination that we saw last spring. The thoughtful plan that the ESB working group for Teaching and Learning has developed is geared to ensure that the remarkable team of JCHS professionals provide the kind of innovative, purposeful, meaningful education steeped in Jewish values that is more important than ever now.
Introducing Google Classroom
One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we got from families last spring was that students found it challenging to navigate multiple online systems during distance learning. At the start of the school year, all teachers will be using Google Classroom to manage their courses. This will streamline teacher communication with students and simplify students’ (and families’) ability to keep track of their missing work. It will also simplify the process by which students submit work and receive feedback from their teachers.
Students and families will still use the JCHS Portal to complete school forms and access report cards, the family directory and resource boards.
All teachers will have posted office hours on Fridays and at least one other day after school between 3:30 and 4:30pm. Outside of those times, students can meet with their teachers when they share a common free block or during club block. To make an appointment with a teacher during Posted Office Hours students should go to thePosted Office Hours resource boardon the JCHS Portal to view faculty appointment calendars.
Student-Teacher Video/Audio Calls
Last spring, we saw the positive impact of teachers and advisors meeting with students one-on-one. This year, teachers will hold office hours on Fridays and on some other days after school and advisors will have appointments with each advisee once every other week. In order to improve student/teacher communication, we put in place the following guidelines to allow for students and teachers to have their meetings over Zoom.
These meetings may only be scheduled between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and will have set end times.
Every video call will start with cameras off (“Stop Video”). The student then may choose between a video call or voice call.
All Zoom classroom norms apply to these video and voice calls.
Students who wish to make changes to their schedule may do so during the Add/Drop period. Please note that the Add/Drop period is earlier this year to ensure all students receive the correct books with their Back To School Boxes. Students who are interested in adding or dropping a course MUST fill out an Add/Drop Form by Wednesday, August 5. Once this form is received, the Registrar will notify the student and parents via email to let them know if the requested course has been approved. Families will be notified by Tuesday, August 11. Students who are enrolled in eight courses have until Friday, September 4 to drop a course.
In order to meet the health and safety protocols for Campus Mode 2 (“All-In”; 100% student density) or Campus Mode 3 (Hybrid; 50% student density), we’ve lowered our class sizes and certain classes are only available to specific grade cohorts. To meet room density restrictions, most classes have a smaller cap than usual and many classes already are at capacity. This means that there will be less room for movement during the add/drop period. Add/Drop requests will be approved based on seniority and available space.
One question that has come up is whether JCHS can organize small groups of students on campus for orientation or off campus for learning pods. The answer to both questions from the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) is “No.” SFDPH is in the process of deciding whether or not reopening waivers will be granted for elementary schools based on Governor Newsom’s directives. But there will be no waivers for high schools. SFDPH also has confirmed San Francisco schools cannot adopt summer camp guidelines for school programming or otherwise organize small-group activities or learning pods. JCHS remains committed to taking advantage of the best and safest opportunities made available by SFDPH and we will be sure to keep families updated with any changes.
We understand there may be a variety of reasons that families are interested in forming their own pods. We request that families consider the unintended impacts of organizing small groups of students. Significantly, pods may increase social mixing among groups of adults, teens, and children which may not be appropriately monitored for social distancing, masks, and other safety guidelines, and would go against the SFDPH guidelines of gatherings of individuals who are not members of the same household. Our ability to reopen schools is closely tied to our ability to adhere to these guidelines and stop the community spread of COVID-19. Of further concern is that some students might be excluded from pods, which directly contradicts our school’s commitment to inclusivity. We ask that you thoughtfully consider our JCHS values that support all members of our community as you proceed in your decision-making.
On days when students are learning from home, whether in Campus Mode 4 or Mode 3, most of the learning will be synchronous. Each class will meet for synchronous learning during its scheduled time. Yet, the learning will be similar to working in a live classroom in that there may be times when students are working independently or in small groups or watching media or any range of other typical classroom activities adapted for distance learning.
This summer, JCHS partnered with Global On-Line Academy (GOA) to provide all faculty members with professional development to deepen their capacity to provide a high quality education when we can’t all be on campus together. GOA is a leader in on-line education and teacher training for private school students and faculty from around the world, offering insights into how teachers can design for community, connection, and student support in online spaces; design learning experiences that are easy to navigate, intuitive, and interactive; and help students demonstrate and provide evidence of their learning in online spaces. All members of the JCHS professional community took the GOA overview class, Designing for On-Line Learning; JCHS faculty took additional courses in Assessment, Wayfinding and Student Agency. In addition, some teachers did coursework to become Google Certified Educators.
With this training under their belts, teachers have been working hard to redesign their classes, streamline the content they plan to teach, and reimagine their assessments and rubrics.
JCHS has been reforming the grading system over the past few years to sharpen our focus on learning and growth. That trend continues this year as all JCHS classes will adopt a 12 point grading scale in place of the 100-point grading scale we have used in the past. We expect this change to make our grading system simpler, clearer and more aligned with our goal of helping all students reach their potential.
This means that teachers will not be calculating grades based on percentages or by keeping track of total points earned in a grading period. Too often grading systems based on point calculations unintentionally make it feel like the purpose of school is earning points, instead of achieving the deep learning that we intend.
What’s staying the same?
Teachers will still give grades that include pluses and minuses. Students will get grade reports home at the midpoint and end of each quarter and grades will be cumulative for the length of each class. The only grades that will appear on year-end student transcripts are the grades that come at the end of each class. For example, grades at the end of Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 are only status grades reflecting student progress so far, while the grades at the end of Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 will appear on transcripts.
We anticipate that the workload during Quarter 1 may be quite intense as both teachers and students adjust to the new compressed schedule. Students enrolled in Quarter 2 classes will likely not have sufficient time during Quarter 1 to complete their summer assignments. Therefore, all summer assignments will be due on August 19, whether the class meets in Quarter 1 or Quarter 2.
This coming year brings with it a lot of change, and these changes will be experienced differently by each person. Our increased time online, the compressed courses, the rotating quarters, and the block schedule all present us with a variety of opportunities and challenges. Teachers have been engaging this summer in their own online learning, developing skills to make online learning more impactful, interactive, dynamic, and less draining.
We are excited to share that our learning support department has grown, with the hire of Dr. David Neufeld, our new Director of Learning Support. David has been involved in special needs education for nearly twenty years. He spent the last decade as the Director of Inclusion at Jewish LearningWorks, supporting the Bay Area Jewish community around learning differences and interventions. He brings with him a deep knowledge of learning challenges and how to combat feelings of isolation and navigate challenging school experiences. David earned his doctorate in Special Education from UC Berkeley in 2012, with a focus on social engagement with peers in children with autism. His expertise on the social dimension of learning will be particularly invaluable in a year where the social challenges for students are intensified.
This incredible team has been working this summer to reimagine how we ensure all students have access to the support, interventions, and accommodations that they need to thrive in their learning. We have been developing and strengthening our systems that will increase our coordination and communication with students, families, and teachers, in order to effectively implement interventions, and strengthen relationships.
Examples of some of the ways we will be supporting students this year include:
“Classroom”/Zoom observations of students to see how they are interfacing with the new systems and online learning
Team meetings with Learning Support staff and teachers about student learning plans to assess the implementation and effectiveness of supports, accommodations, and modifications.
Regular teacher and parent/guardian surveys to gather information regarding how students are doing in order to proactively intervene when needed
A “supervised” Zoom space for students to work during their study hall with a JCHS educator present
Increased opportunities for learning support sessions
Student Study Halls
Friday Learning Support Hours
3:30-4:00 pm Homework Cafe
A Curated online resource library for families and students to provide strategies for learning, navigating online learning, and supporting organizational struggles.
In addition to the Learning Support Services detailed in our July 28 Year Ahead Communication, the JCHS Student Support team provides ongoing online individualized support to students and families. We would like you to know about resources that are available to students, in whichever mode that the school is operating.
Deans of Students:Michelle Matz (Dean of Ninth and Tenth Grades), and Rabbi Dean Kertesz (Dean of Eleventh and Twelfth Grades) are available to provide support to students and families. You are encouraged to reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns about your student in that grade.
School Counselor:School Counselor, Julie Beck, LCSW, provides individualized support to JCHS students. Conversations with Ms. Beck are confidential unless a student presents as a danger to themselves, others, or are in some kind of danger. Students can email Ms. Beck to schedule an appointment or sign up on Ms. Beck’s Appointment Calendar. Parents are also encouraged to reach out to Ms. Beck if they want to explore parenting needs and concerns or to seek referrals for therapists and other supports.
Student Advising:JCHS has a robust advising program in which each student has an individual faculty advisor with whom they meet regularly. Advisors work individually with students to build a meaningful support relationship and to help students navigate JCHS systems, connect to relevant supports within the school, navigate the course selection process each spring and attend to ongoing student needs as they arise. Advisors are also resources to advisees’ parents/guardians.As the school year starts in Distance Learning mode, advisors and advisees will meet biweekly. Advising assignments for tenth graders and students whose advisors are no longer at JCHS will be completed in the first few weeks of school; students who need support before they have an advising assignment are encouraged to reach out to their grade Dean.
As students and families who are already working with Ms. Lauren Cook (Dean of College & Gap Year Advising) know, she brings an unparalleled warmth, reliability, and a culture of sanity to what can be a stressful college application process. This fall, the college search and application process will undoubtedly look different from other years, and Ms. Cook is poised to help students navigate this new reality. While the JCHS College Advising Program will not change dramatically this year as many components are already executed virtually, there will be some logistical shifts to address the continuing pandemic. To read more, visit our College Advising page.
JCHS is grateful for generous operational, programmatic, and financial support from:
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.