It was heart-warming this term to observe how excited our students were coming back together and how much enjoyment they experienced from reconnecting with their educators and learning spaces. After the recent lockdown we had the opportunity to test and refine our system and processes relating to online learning. Whatever the future holds, we want to ensure that students continue to develop the building blocks of knowledge, the skills, behaviours and mindset to succeed in higher education, training and in the workforce.
Everyone reacts differently to change, and children and young people do not often have as much prior knowledge or experience to draw on, which can make change more difficult and challenging. Besides focusing on children’s physical health and safety during this pandemic, as a school our staff and in particular the student services team has been focussing on their emotional health and well-being as we encourage and support their resilience to adversity.
98.5% of staff felt that the Online Learning Program was effective. The written feedback from staff and students will be used to continually improve the quality of education online.
Some of the feedback from our students and staff included:
What went well?
- Excellent that some teachers used various ways of communicating -> could ask questions through Daymap/email/zoom and they seemed more available
- It felt like a normal school day which is excellent, but it was isolating without friends who are our support network
- Being able to see classmates through zoom even though we couldn’t see them in person meant I felt connected
- Extra rest and ability to renew energy and refresh
- Ability to focus and work independently
- Easier to eat throughout the day
- Improved communication with parents
- I asked private questions to the teacher on Zoom that I probably would not usually ask in person.
- Teachers planned and designed the lessons very well
- I was able to take notes after the lesson concluded without needing to get up and move to another class
- Some teachers recorded lessons and uploaded them to Daymap so I was able to re-watch anything I missed. I loved flipped learning.
- Good to have zoom meetings left open so we could ask questions
- Google hangouts was an excellent tool to use
- Being able to listen and hear the teacher became easier as there were no distractions from other students
- Easy to attend classes on time and to access information as it was all in one place. We felt it was more efficient running of the day.
- This time we were better prepared, there was clear communication and everyone joined zoom/online school work
- Time of the year for this lockdown made it much more focussed on learning rather than just maintaining relationships and checking with wellbeing
- Screen sharing was excellent
- Convenient and more aligned to students lives
- Felt valued, understood and respected – teachers really cared
- Leadership’s ability to adapt to change so quickly and support staff, students and parents
- Students’ engagement with online learning
- Students who wouldn’t ask questions in class confidently sent messages to get assistance with their work
- Students high level engagement even those that have difficulties participating in class
- Higher attendance and less behavioural issues
- Zoom sessions and breaking down content into chunks with a more engaging pedagogy
- Recording lessons through Zoom
- Staff and students successfully adapted to the online learning program via Daymap and Zoom
- Students responded extremely well to seeing what was required of them for the full week rather than lesson by lesson
- Seamless transition to face to face learning
- Students worked at their own pace in a home learning environment
- Normal timetable allowed everyone to collaborate and create a strong connection to community
What were the challenges?
- Zoom meeting – keeping up with the multiple links teachers were sending
- Some classes had too much instruction and no time to do the work. Some teachers stayed logged on to support work, which worked extremely well.
- Daymap and Wi-Fi issues
- Learning new class topics without the in-person teacher interaction
- Keeping up with the amount of work
- Too many distractions at home and the expectation from parents to do chores
- Family Obligations (including helping online school younger siblings due to parent language barrier)
- Lack of motivation
- Work commitments
- Maintaining a routine (including getting out of bed) and time management
- Drafting work without teacher face-to-face help
- Not being able to see my friends who are my network and support
- The internet dropped out which meant I was continuously joining and rejoining the zoom lesson
- I found I got headaches in the first two days because of the amount of screen time
- Physical location -if you do not have a desk or a table to work on, where do you work?
- Home environment -some people had to zoom from their bedrooms, as they had no other space
- Difficult in co-parenting situation with different environments in different houses -location/privacy/interruptions
- Sudden change in situation made it difficult to get used to home being the place for schoolwork and family life
- More than one person at the house using internet could affect bandwidth
- Having other family members at home made learning difficult due to noise and disruptions
- We found it much harder to be motivated at home, as there were siblings/parents home as well and we were easily distracted in our own home.
- More tired than being at school
- Sitting down for long periods
- Balancing school and home life
- Students who had to share their devices and had limited bandwidth missed lessons
- Varying degrees of work completion
- Some staff need further training on Zoom and Daymap
- Some students did not want to turn their cameras on
- Work required every lesson increased
- Engaging all students with different learning styles
- Students late to zoom lessons
- Students were constantly disrupted at home by parents and siblings
- Setting and doing reliefs during this time
What have we learnt?
- Importance of social connections and emotional support from adults who care
- I have learnt that we have adapted extremely well to changes and unforeseen circumstances
- Managing time effectively
- Online learning has its advantages and disadvantages
- Online schooling requires a lot of self-control and discipline
- How to use a new online program
- I missed teacher one-on-one support and teachers care and guidance
- I need to focus more at school and appreciate the teachers and my friends
- Attending school is easier to do work
- Friends are important for wellbeing just as much as teachers
- Online didn’t cater for all learning styles
- Balance of home responsibilities vs online learning -this interfered with the flow of class
- Working as an essential worker made it difficult to balance school requirements and was overwhelming
- A lot of the students in my year level preferred to be at school and have said they learned that they like school.
- Cannot replicate practical lessons
- We have a highly supportive community
- Flipped learning
- Online learning can be fun
- Lessons need to be broken down into smaller chunks
- More confident with online learning
- Zoom breakouts and Google hangouts were great
- Daymap needs to be fully implemented
- Need to change your pedagogy and assessment tasks need to be flexible
- Young people have complex lives
- Rethink the amount of homework after a full day of online learning
What could we do differently next time?
- Use Google Classrooms and the Google Suite and don’t rely on DAYMAP
- Pre-record all lessons rather than zoom for students who are late to the lesson or who miss the lesson for different reasons
- Overall, students felt our school cared about us as they followed up everyone that did not join the lesson/s
• Having the same routines of school at home was excellent, as we didn’t need to change to a different timetable
- Would be better to reschedule the day for a longer HG and longer lunch break -often the break time was taken up by just making food for self and others. Some students had to do chores during break times.
- Possibility of having an end of day HG to signal end of the school day
- Use hangouts/breakouts more for classes to engage us
- Reduce the workload
- Provide activities or challenges for the students to stay active during the day as it was difficult to be inside at the computer all day with little movement or exercise
- 5-minute break between online lessons
- Different types of tasks for practical subjects
- Encouraging students to ask questions
- Continue to provide Dongles and Laptops for students who do not have them.
- Longer home group to build community and monitor wellbeing
- Further staff PD to strengthen a blended learning program
- Students trained on how to use online learning platforms confidently
- Provide 5-minute breaks between lessons and shorten lessons
- Provide information to students about online etiquette, sleep routines, nutrition, impact of gaming and the importance of physical exercise or activity during recess and lunchbreaks
- Impressed on how the executive responded and how staff were looked after – I would not do anything differently
- Flipped learning should be used by all teachers
- Explore a common platform like Microsoft Teams
- For Science and Mathematics have kits that can be taken home by students
- Zoom recording of lessons is important and allows students flexibility due to personal circumstances