Hybrid Considerations: School Structures and Systems

As district and school leaders build structures and systems during the pandemic, the one constant is change, so it’s important to stay flexible. What kind of schedule will work for hybrid learning and will also flex for fully remote learning? Are there routines that provide connection and a sense of belonging during both hybrid and remote instruction? Are there systems for connecting teachers to let them learn together, whether they are in hybrid or in remote sessions? By building for flexibility, leaders create stability that is much needed during turbulent times.

In addition to considering flexibility, leaders have spent considerable time building schedules that support a wide range of learners in this new environment. Hybrid schedules vary widely but the best examples prioritize students who most need face-to-face instruction, provide dedicated social-emotional learning (SEL) time, build in time for small groups, and flex so that while students are in school, they participate in activities that maximize the impact of face-to-face learning. See related resources in the section on Scheduling 

Guiding Questions:

  • How have you created schedules that allow movement from remote to hybrid (and back again) without unnecessary disruption?
  • How have you built structures that maximize opportunities for student connection and learning while in hybrid classrooms?
  • How have you prioritized your students with the highest needs?
  • How do your structures and systems support your instructional and social-emotional priorities this year?

Build Schedules for Flexibility and Support

Structure your schedule around connecting a group of students to a group of adults in ways that can shift seamlessly among remote, hybrid, and in-person teaching. As you create that schedule, create opportunities for small-group configurations that can bring more support for students with higher needs.

Consider using or adapting one of the schedules in the six case studies that Education Week recently published. The strengths and challenges of each model are outlined.

Back to school: A framework for remote and hybrid learning amid COVID-19 provides a useful summary (Exhibit 5) on the “teaching value chain” to help guide hybrid learning models (McKinsey & Co.).

Prioritize Time for Student-Student Connection

Teachers and parents worry about the social isolation some students feel because of the pandemic. Even students who participate in hybrid classrooms may feel disconnected because of the restrictions related to social distancing. District and school leaders should maximize opportunities to support healthy socializing among students.

Middle School 50 in Queens, NY, created a model where students who are fully remote and students who are in hybrid classrooms come together for a whole-school Zoom lunch five days a week.

Maximize the Power of Advisory

Schools with an advisory system consistently say it’s a game changer in their ability to support students during remote or hybrid learning. Two opposite practices emerged with real benefits for young people:

  1. Separate advisories into remote advisories and hybrid advisories so students can build deep connections with students going through the same challenges.
  2. or

  3. Ensure that every advisory has hybrid and remote students, which means as students change their option, no one has to be rescheduled.

Springpoint provides five case studies to highlight different ways advisory can be structured and run in a school. The case studies are all pre-pandemic but will help schools that don’t have advisory as they think about various models.

For more resources on advisory practices, visit the SEL and Professional Development sections of this guide.

Simplify District Requirements

Teachers are already juggling more than ever before. While districts often have critical reasons for asking teachers to document student information, districts should consider adopting tools that will make some of that work easier.

A school in California built this student engagement tracker that made it easier for teachers to fulfill the district’s requirement to log student engagement. Schools can save a copy on their own drive and customize it to their needs. While this tracker is specific to engagement, districts can use it as a model for simplifying other forms of documentation they need from teachers.