Mid-March 2020 forced Cohort 2 Fuse MA Fellows, and indeed all Massachusetts teachers, into a whole new world. With the closure of schools because of Covid-19, educators across the commonwealth had to find new ways to reach their students, both on a personal and educational level. The switch from in-person to virtual teaching and learning required a new mind set, and Fuse Fellows were ready to lead the way!
In the first official week of school closures Fuse MA held a virtual face-to-face meeting. The initial focus of the meeting was to check in on the Fuse family. There were a wide range of emotions and thoughts, as the reality of the work ahead started to come into view. With the support of staff from the Highlander Institute team, Program Manager Meg Smallidge invited Cohort 2 to think about and discuss four topics: Equity & Access, Long Term Thinking, Alignment with Co-Teachers/Other Staff, and Social-Emotional Supports. Fellow’s thinking was collected to support not only themselves, but all educators.
Just a few weeks later, the fellows met for their April virtual face-to-face. A main focus of this meeting was to look into Highlander Institute’s 4 Key Considerations for Distance Learning. The purpose of this resource states, “As we brace for a longer engagement with distance learning, we want all leaders, coaches, and teachers to think through four key considerations that will help ensure greater equity, scale, and sustainability during this time of national crisis and compassion.” Using Project Zero’s Connect, Extend, Challenge thinking routine, groups of fellows dug into the considerations to see how they connect to the work they are doing, and how they could be used going forward.
May’s virtual Cohort 2 meeting found the Fuse MA fellows faced with a new challenge. The reality that schools would not be reopening in the 2019-2020 school year meant that the work within their own districts as well as in their partner districts needed to evolve into something a little different. After taking stock of their current work situations, the fellows began to develop recommendations for their partner districts around the priority practices selected prior to Covid-19, considering how these practices and their accompanying strategies could shift to a distance learning, what pivots felt useful and what this would look like? These recommendations and suggestions will be presented to the partner districts at a virtual, end-of-year meeting. Cohort 2 Fellows will continue to be flexible and reflective, finding ways to be resources for both their home and partner districts and leaders in our new reality.