Connecting
in Brand New Ways

"We have learned so much about who we are as employees and teammates, as well as how important it is for us all to stay connected, especially during periods of great change."

CMS Magnet Programs

CMS Magnet Programs

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The Magnet Office had just ended our lottery season, which is typically the busiest time of year for us. We were lucky in the fact that schools and offices were open during the majority of that process, but when we made the transition to a work-from-home state, we really had to rethink what our support looked like for schools and what our service looked like for families and students. We were no longer able to visit school buildings, conduct learning walks, and check in on school staff the same way. We were not able to sit with families or hold in-person information sessions to answer parents’ questions. As far as the support for schools goes, we made the decision to send our staff members a message of support to let them know that we are still here.

The largest struggle was making sure we were supportive but not overwhelming those we are here to serve. We virtually checked in, being careful not to bombard them with tasks in an effort to make sure they were mentally and emotionally capable of handling the new workload that had been dropped in their laps from the pandemic. Additionally, we spent a great deal of time meeting with our vendors who train and coach our teachers and help create rich, theme-based experiences for our students.  It was imperative that these vendors would be able to pivot with the circumstances and provide responsive support to our schools in order to ease the adjustment to virtual learning while keeping students excited and engaged.

During this time we were also careful to differentiate our support. Some of our schools required more direct attention as their themes stood in sharp contrast to limitations presented in virtual teaching and learning. We helped those schools work collectively to brainstorm ideas, explore instructional approaches, develop resources, and share curricular content that allowed them to maintain the integrity of their themes while taking on the challenges of remote learning. We utilized Zoom to drop into classes to see what our students were doing, and we communicated via email like never before! We were able to support students and see them grow from our own homes!

One of the major changes we made to our way of doing things was the implementation of Calendly as our new concierge meeting service that could be accessed by school staff, as well as parents. Now, when parents have a question and want to meet, they can simply access our link from our website, choose the type of meeting they want, and schedule their Zoom meeting with us at their convenience. It has really boosted our productivity, and the parents like that they are able to get their questions answered quickly and easily. We are so proud to say that we have held over 500 Calendly meetings with parents!

While the pandemic allowed our team to connect with staff and families in brand new ways, we definitely missed walking through buildings and seeing class in session! We missed getting hugs from students, giving high-fives to staff, and sharing snacks with colleagues during meetings. We have learned so much about who we are as employees and teammates, as well as how important it is for us all to stay connected, especially during periods of great change.

- Walter, Trina, Heather, Marquitta & Cindy (Magnet Programs Team)

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