The return of our youngest and oldest students last Monday was one of the highlights of the year. It was easy to relate to the energy and excitement of returning girls – as a staff, we had missed them dearly! Everywhere there was happy chatter, easy laughter and unbridled joy.
As we now straddle the twin operation of iloveGlennieSchooling and face-to-face lessons, we are presented with the most obvious question of all regarding teaching and learning – what have we learned from five weeks of remote learning and what should we do differently?
When asked this question on Monday afternoon, Years 11 and 12 students were quick to highlight some key takeaways:
There are some valuable lessons for us here, which should both challenge and affirm our ways of thinking about schooling.
First, it is clear that we should never underestimate a young person’s capacity to rise to a challenge. Anxiety, fear and isolation have been significant features of the COVID crisis, but Glennie girls (and staff, may I add) have demonstrated remarkable resilience and support for each other.
Second, remote learning has reminded us that powerful learning can only happen when we are engaged, energetic and focussed. Most students have thrived with the flexibility and independence provided by the iloveGlennieSchooling model; others have needed defined routines and involvement of peers in their learning. There is definitely some value in student control over learning, sustained time to problem solve and explore ideas deeply, as well as time to ask challenging questions and have thought-provoking discussions.
And third, connection and relationships mean everything – they are the foundation of the school community and of learning. Strong connections with and between teachers and students humanise the learning. Whether this occurs via online discussion threads, Google meets or live lessons, the importance of personal connections and relationships is a fundamental social and emotional need.
While we are looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’, we need to be brave and take some of the lessons learned from remote schooling and innovations adopted by individual teachers to influence the larger picture of our schooling future. If we were prepared to modify curriculum and contact time to ensure that students were able to concentrate and stay engaged during remote learning, how can we modify curriculum, contact time and pedagogical strategies to ensure that students are concentrating and engaged in “normal” classrooms? It is an exciting moment, indeed!
Ms Tonia Gloudemans
Deputy Principal - Head of Curriculum