Feeling School Spirit Through Social Media

Posted On Wednesday April 01, 2020
Williamsburg PS student Daphne shares the rock she painted for the Williamsburg PS scavenger hunt.

Williamsburg PS staff are working to meet the needs of the school community via virtual initiatives

In order to further prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Province of Ontario announced that schools will not reopen until May at the earliest.

Over the last few weeks, the Durham District School Board (DDSB) has been working towards launching a Distance Learning plan on April 6th with teacher-led classroom instruction to students.

In the meantime, some DDSB schools have already begun rolling out virtual initiatives to their respective school communities.

One of those schools is Williamsburg Public School in Whitby.

“We recognize that while some students and families just want a light connection with staff, others have greater educational concerns,” notes Allison Kerr, Vice Principal of Williamsburg PS.

After Kerr, Principal Brad Savard, and the School Leadership Team met virtually using Google Meet, they brainstormed different ways to support the mental health and educational needs of their school community.

Those ideas live on a Google Doc that is accessible to all staff members and is updated frequently.

Virtual Spirit Week

One of the ideas is to host a Virtual Spirit Week on the school’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, running from Monday March 30th to Friday April 3rd. Each day of the week provides a different opportunity for Williamsburg PS families and staff to showcase their spirit. The school community is encouraged to share photos of themselves wearing items of clothing with the corresponding theme each day.

  • Monday is Williamsburg Wear Day (wear Williamsburg PS shirts, hats, and colours)
  • Tuesday is Silly Sock Day (share a photo in your silliest socks)
  • Wednesday is Superhero Day (while wearing your favourite superhero costume, create a ‘thank you’ photo you can leave in your front window to thank community heroes such as nurses, doctors, and grocery store workers)
  • Thursday is Hat Day (share a photo in your favourite hat)
  • Friday is Oh Canada Day (showcase Canadian pride by wearing red and white or Canada gear)

Virtual Story Time

Another way Williamsburg PS staff are reaching out to their school community is through virtual story times. “Surely our little ones would love to see the familiar faces of staff reading to them,” says Kerr.

Asa Schoonderbeek, a Grade 3 Teacher at Williamsburg PS, will be the first to start the online readings which are pre-recorded and then posted on the school’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. “The book I am reading is by one of my favourite Canadian authors, Robert Munsch. I tried to pick one that would be fun for the kids to listen to, and something that they might relate to at this moment. I chose the story Pyjama Day,” laughs Schoonderbeek.

He continues, “I know many of my students love to select Robert Munsch stories in our classroom. I also thought that many of them are spending quite a bit of time in their pyjamas these days, just like myself!”

Schoonderbeek’s reading of Pyjama Day was shared this past Monday, and he says he even wore his PJs for the reading, “Hopefully by making these connections with them, it will help to let our students know that we are still a community and we are here to support them.”

More to Come

Kerr says they are also posting weekly ‘walker challenges’ and scavenger hunts to encourage community members to go on a walk and keep their eyes open for different things each time. One of the scavenger hunts included decorating rocks and scattering them around the neighbourhood for others to find.

Teachers have already sent assignments to families that can be completed by students in a variety of ways, ensuring that equity is still a consideration “now more than ever.”

She concludes, “Teachers with connections to their students have the greatest ability to improve and influence their academic trajectory. The environment needs to be welcoming and students need to feel connected before learning can be robust.”

To follow along with Williamsburg PS’s Virtual Spirit Week, story times and more, check them out on Twitter @WPSwolves and Instagram @wpslearningcommons.