In Term 1 this year, some of our students and teachers have had to isolate at home, as experienced by many of their peers in other schools, following the rise in Omicron cases in the country.
For a few weeks, some classes had experienced a handful of students away from school at any given time yet learning continued as our community of eager learners transitioned seamlessly from attending classes remotely to being back in physical classroom settings with the full support of our teaching staff and their peers.
Our College Mathematics, Science and Christian Education teacher, Ms Petro Els shared how she and her students conquered Covid by learning from wherever they were during this period of uncertainty.
“A typical class,” said Ms Els, “had everyone in attendance. Majority of them will be physically in front of me and the other will attend lessons remotely. For example, my Year 7 Science Class had full class attendance with five students tuning in via video call, listening in, actively engaging and doing their work.”
“I was setting them up for their research assignment about pests in New Zealand. They had to select a pest, research when an animal that forms part of the food chain poses harm to the environment and should be controlled. They had to focus on one specific example, explain why it is a pest and what we can do to control or eradicate it to restore the balance in the environment. Despite the complexity of the task, the students participated fully and delivered good quality standards of work. It is amazing to see how flexible they were and seamlessly they interacted. It was almost as if I had the full class physically in front of me,” she added.
In teaching Mathematics for a higher level, Ms Els found that she had to adapt to slightly different needs of that group of students, yet the approach was equally effective.
Ms Els explained, “I realised that my Year 9 Mathematics students in particular, favoured collaborative learning and were in touch with their classmates during and after the period to seek peer support leveraging on messaging and video online tools while referencing lessons and reference materials that I have made available in detail on the OLE. For these independent learners, I would frequently reach out to them via email to check on their wellbeing, asking how they were doing and if required, arrange to explain expectations of concepts I had taught in class.”
Elaborating on her experience with Hybrid teaching, Ms Els found it an easy ‘flow on’ from the online teaching from previous lockdown. She added, “It does require extra planning to ensure the guidelines and tasks are laid out in such a manner that every student can access the work of the day regardless of where they are. This meant that I work on a day-to-day plan on top of the weekly programme, adapting to my students’ progress. My priority was inclusion, ensuring every student who was well and able to study remotely stayed on top of their learning as it was crucial that they were able to return into the classroom setting and ready to continue ‘on par’ with their peers. Seeing the seamless continuity of learning of all students and their positive attitude was extremely rewarding.”
College students from Ms Els’s class echoed her sentiment. Here is what they said about their experience of hybrid learning:
“At first my biggest concern was missing out spending time with my friends. Online lessons helped me understand what I needed to do and once I felt more confident, I could get everything done. I knew I could cope with being in isolation, when I saw my teachers and friends every day. I never fell behind in my work.” – Vivie Woolcott
“Joining the online lessons ensured I never felt like I had to do the work all on my own. At first, I was very worried that I would miss out on work and not meet the goals I have for myself. I learned how valuable spending time together is. When I tuned into the online lessons, I felt motivated to do the work, and do it well.” – Abby Walmsley
“Attending classes online helped me to understand exactly what to do even though I was not in school. I learned that even though I needed breaks, I could still stay on top of my learning.” – Grace Fu