Dear AAS Community,
We are approaching the halfway point of our six-week plan for Distance Learning. The commitment from our students has been extraordinary. The dedication of our educators has been impressive. The collaboration with our parent partners has been outstanding. Thank you all. Also, thank you for taking the time to share feedback on what learning is like in your homes each day, these insights are extremely helpful as we plan.
Even though we have acknowledged, as have many other international schools, that the learning experiences on campus cannot be replicated through distance learning, students, educators, and parents have highlighted some amazing learning with AAS. While all of the learning shared is gratifying, much because it is just as planned or expected, we have also seen or heard about unique, new, and different examples of learning as well. One of the areas being celebrated is the engagement by our students as self-directed and creative learners through the more flexible opportunities they have that do not always exist in the on-campus classroom. These kinds of experiences are not only positive for students, but they are also consistent with what AAS has been focused on through our Learning at AAS plan. The silver lining is the growth that comes through these challenges, as educators, we are learning alongside our students and our parents.
There has been a great deal of information received and processed in recent months as we live in these challenging and extraordinary times. Please remember to take a moment to breathe, give yourself some latitude as the learning will not be perfect, assume positive intent when collaborating, and nurture the relationships, which are so important, particularly at this time of more isolation!
C. S. Lewis shared that hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.
At AAS, we have had our share of hardships in recent years, and while there is likely more to come with this virus, we know from our past experiences that our community is resilient and persistent in the face of challenges as we prepare our students for their extraordinary destiny. We’ve got this
We encourage you to stay updated through community updates on the coronavirus resources page, as well as the distance learning page. Stay connected via our newsletter and through leadership videos, and share your own experiences with our learning community.
Dear Elementary Families,
We hope that wherever you are, you and your families are well.
Thank you for your continued collaboration, support, and engagement with Distance Learning. It is hard to believe that we are almost halfway through the six weeks.
Educators have been working collaboratively over long days to deliver the most appropriate Distance Learning Program possible. We are very thankful for parents collaborating with us and taking an increased amount of time to support students in this unique mode of learning. Without this, Distance Learning would not be possible. Our survey results have found that this new parental role has been easily embraced by some and has been very challenging for others, depending on individual circumstances. Overall, you have been very complimentary of the program and have expressed that you are incredibly thankful for all that teachers are doing to support student learning.
We are not creating a replacement for classroom learning, nor is it homeschooling. This is not possible. In response to this, we have reduced our expectations for student engagement so that it is appropriate for the age of the child and is based on prioritized standards and the Distance Learning platform. The parent survey results indicate that for the majority, we are hitting our time targets.
We have a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous lessons. Some international schools have gone only to asynchronous, but we have intentionally kept both. This is to minimize screen time via asynchronous (students get the instructions and then go off to complete their work) and to also have interaction, synchronous video, with the children for social reasons and for clarification and more immediate feedback from teachers. In a classroom, mini-lessons are usually about 10 minutes and include discussion and student engagement before students go off to inquire/apply individually, in pairs or groups. Since this is not possible during Distance Learning, synchronous, and asynchronous sessions, do not mimic what happens in a classroom. We have adopted a more directive approach because of the limitations of Distance Learning. Students may not be able to engage for more than 10 minutes, so any synchronous or asynchronous learning activities should be reasonably short and are followed by the student engaging in an activity.
We have already begun to assemble resources that may be used to support a continuation of optional learning opportunities after May 1. These will be shared with you before the school year ends so that you can utilize these at your discretion.
As a division and school, we post lessons at 8:30 AM Moscow time. This decision is based on a variety of reasons. Many teachers need to collaborate to put the slides together (often into the evening before). Students, teachers, and ES leadership are working in different time zones. ES Leadership needs time to look at slides before they are posted. We will continue to do this, but families may decide to engage with all but the synchronous sessions at times that are more suitable to their situation.
We would like to reiterate with you that it is up to you, as a family, to create balance for your particular situation. All have unique circumstances that will impact when and how much your children will be able to engage. Please communicate clearly with your child's teachers if your circumstances prohibit partial or full engagement with Distance Learning or a particular assignment.
Our goal is to continue to deliver our standards and expectations through the PYP Framework, inquiry, and student agency, as best as we can, over the coming weeks. From what we have observed, our educators are doing an amazing job that rivals what we have seen from other well respected international schools. We have learned a great deal from those schools that began Distance Learning over two months ago. We appreciate that we could benefit from their findings. We will continue to take feedback to improve, as we are learning as well and adjusting to this new mode of learning.
Enjoy the rest of your week, stay healthy and take care of each other,
Eric, Julie, and Jeff
We hope this newsletter finds you happy and healthy. We are seeing students continuing to participate, but we are well aware that students are now feeling the pressure of assessments building as we try to make claims on the essential learning for the year before the May 1, the official end of the school year. It is more important than ever for students to stay organized and touch base with their teachers whenever possible. We have only 3.5 weeks of Distance Learning remaining. Let's make it our best work. If your children are struggling, please reach out to our counselor at James.Villers@aas.ru. Advisors are also great people to reach out to for support.
Reporting: In the interest of making these 6 full weeks of Distance Learning and not 5 weeks plus report writing, we are not publishing report cards until May 8. We will have all of our leaving packets for departing families ready on May 15. This timeline will allow us to focus on students for the full distance learning period. Department teams are currently preparing independent learning engagements for families who wish to continue independent study following the conclusion of distance learning. We will have the plan prepared by the beginning of Week 6 so students can ask any necessary questions.
Congratulations to Amy Lewis and Ms. Huth for winning last week's Penguin Games challenge. This week we'd like all of the MS to get behind the new Challenge!
Spirit Days: Each Tuesday, we will continue to have spirit days. Here are our next three Tuesday Spirit Days:
- April 14- Teacher-Student switch day. Teachers dress as students, students like teachers.
- April 21- Pajama day. Isn't that every day?
- April 28- House Colors.
Parent Tips: A couple of years ago, I shared this article with tips to help parents make sure that their children continued to develop academically while still enjoying their summer holidays. It feels very relevant again.
Stay healthy, happy, and thank you for your ongoing support in these strange times.
The Wellness section of the school’s Distance Learning page has links to a variety of resources to help you manage the altered demands of work and school.
Please reach out if you have concerns or want to share information. You can email me, or, to schedule an online appointment, use this: https://calendly.com/james-villers If you send me a meeting request, I will reply with a Google Meet link.
HS Associate Principal, Matthew Groves firstname.lastname@example.org
We have all had a unique experience in the last 2 ½ weeks of distance learning. All of our experiences have required us to adapt to the situation presented to us. I spoke with students quarantined in hotels and homes outside of Russia, and those in their apartments in Moscow. I have listened to parents, and teachers share their stories. Regardless of who or where we are located, a common theme emerges every time.
Students, parents, and faculty are all working collectively to keep this community together. Whether it is running the Dungeons and Dragons club online, asking questions in a google meet, posting a video on AAS connects, or sending an email, the tone of these communications all convey a love for our school and genuine care for one another.
As the morbid numbers of people sick and deceased continue to grow, we can take solace in the overwhelming love and pride we possess in the AAS community. These emotions are based on our shared belief that every student who roamed our campus halls (and will again, soon enough!) is part of the solution to the troubles that our world faces. They may not be able to solve all of the world's problems, but they will most certainly solve some of them, and all of us will have played our role in their achievements.
As we turn on the news, look outside our windows and cope with our circumstances, may we also look every day at our children with the unwavering belief that our future is in highly intelligent and capable hands. Thank you to the parents, students, and faculty who are doing everything in their power to collectively keep morale high and the AAS mission in our hearts.
End of Year Packets: For families transferring at the end of this school year, end of year packets will be available on May 18th. Please contact admissions for more information.
Sean Sonderman email@example.com
Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s anything you need. The library wants to make sure that you have books available to you!
We are working on weekly celebration padlets! Please see them on our Library Resources Padlet.
This week, we are celebrating staying healthy during World Health Day.
Please email us to answer questions or set up time to answer questions live. We are not currently running office hours.
Happy Distance Learning!
Penguin Games 2020
Join Penguin Games by submitting your videos on https://www.aasathletics.org/
ES, MS, and HS, Students, Parents, and Teachers can all be a part of the challenge
- There are 3 Challenges Weekly for everyone to have some fun.
- Audio Quiz, Sport Challenges and a Photograph Contest!
- Check out the website and watch video of the winners from Week 1
Week One Wrap-Up Video With Special Guests
PTO Divisional Updates
ES: Grade 5 Hoodies
Due to the quarantine situation in Moscow, the timeline to pick up 5th-grade hoodies has been extended. You may collect your child’s hoodie through April 30 in Pokrovsky Hills, Moscow regulations permitting. Please email PTO.email@example.com to arrange a pick-up time.
Any hoodies not picked up by April 30 will be returned to school to be distributed in the fall.
MS: Grade 8 Hoodies
Grade 8 graduation hoodies are also ready to be picked up from PH after 3.30 pm on weekdays or anytime on weekends Please email Marjo at PTO.MS@aas.ru or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pick-up time.
HS: Graduation Blankets
12th-grade graduation blankets can be picked up in Pokrovsky Hills until May 1. Contact email@example.com to arrange a pick-up time. If you cannot pick up the blankets before May 1, distribution will be handled by the HS office at a later date.
Reminder! PTO Elections
In order to get off to a quick start in the next school year, the PTO needs to elect next year’s PTO Executive Committee.
We have one candidate per position, but per our by-laws we need to hold an election to ratify the candidates. The candidates’ statements of interest are attached here. (Please add the link)
We kindly ask you to take a few minutes to review the statements.
The email with a link to e-ballot will be sent out on Tuesday April 14 with instructions to submit your vote. Voting will close on Sunday April 19th.
In order to get off to a quick start in the next school year, the PTO needs to elect next year’s PTO Executive Committee. Keep an eye out for an electronic vote election email in the coming days.
We have one candidate per position, but per our by-laws we need to hold an election to ratify the candidates. The candidates’ statements of interest are attached here. We kindly ask you to take a few minutes to review the statements.
The email with a link to e-ballot will be sent out after April 1st with instructions to submit your vote.
Finally, a big thank you to all the parents, Class/Grade Reps, Event Coordinators and volunteers for making AAS PTO a community to be proud of during these extraordinary times.
And, before ending let me take this opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation to all the doctors, nurses, other health care workers and essential services providers who are carrying on their work under very difficult circumstances, along with those working in the media and communication, everywhere across the world.