The commencement of Term 2 saw the whole school curriculum online for the first time in the history of St Margaret’s.
While the delivery of teaching and learning has seen a dramatic shift, our teachers continue to deliver the same learning programs and follow the same pedagogical approaches in the virtual classroom as they would in the physical classroom.
For students, their learning environment is now within their home and it is important this space is set up to equip them for learning in the online classroom. Now, a few weeks in to home learning, most students have adopted strategies to establish a consistent routine and an environment within the home conducive to optimum engagement in their learning experiences each day.
It’s important for students to maintain a routine not dissimilar to the one they would have attending their bricks and mortar classroom. Setting an alarm for the same time each day and maintaining their regular morning routine including a healthy breakfast, light exercise and getting dressed will help maintain continuity. Students should resist the urge to stay in their pyjamas. Whilst they are not required to wear their uniform, getting dressed each day will help prepare them in the right frame of mind for the day ahead and if students are on Microsoft Teams or involved in any other video conference setting, they need to be respectfully dressed.
Many students may already have a study space established within the home. In light of the current situation, where many parents and siblings may also be working or learning from home, it is important students set themselves up away from too many distractions. Choosing a light, airy space complete with all the tools they will need to complete their classwork, including pens and pencils, books, technology devices, power for technology and so on, will provide optimum opportunity to focus on their school work.
St Margaret’s Acting Dean of Academic Performance, Ms Nicole Devlin recommends: “Make a space that is similar to what you are used to at school. For example, sitting on your bed or the couch in front of the television is not going to be conducive to you being engaged with this process.
“Establish a clean and tidy workspace where you can concentrate, and check you have all the materials you need. Is your laptop charged? Have you got your diary or planner? Have you put your phone somewhere that it will not interrupt you? Ensuring you get this right is one way you can set yourself up for success and make the most out of your lessons,” Ms Devlin said.
It is important to schedule breaks throughout the day. Students might like to choose to stick to their timetabled school breaks such as morning tea and lunchtime to refuel and allow themselves a brain break. It’s also important to take the time to get some fresh air outside in the garden or even a walk around the block, adhering to social distancing rules.
During this rather unique period of at home, online learning, it is important that students adhere to the school’s St Margaret’s Student Laptop User Charter and Responsible Use of Technology policy. It is also an important time for parents and children to focus on being cybersafe at all times. Consider setting up parental controls for internet usage and be extra vigilant about the websites, apps and chats your child is involved in online.
Remain connected with peers
While social distancing rules apply for face to face contact, students can still remain connected to their peers online. In fact, this is even more important during this time. Students have the opportunity to use the internet to connect with one another, share information and resources and work together collectively and collaboratively by setting up online chats and virtual study groups.
Facilitate where necessary
Parents of primary students in particular, will need to supervise and encourage their child’s learning. However, it’s important to try not to fall into the trap of doing it for them; and rather just being there to assist and answer questions when needed.
Since the introduction of self-isolation commanded by COVID-19 and the subsequent transition to home learning, our students have shown their agility, resilience and tremendous courage in adapting to these challenges.