The current coronavirus pandemic has impacted the world like no other event for the last 75 years. It has changed the way we communicate, socialise, live, work and play, and in the case of St Luke’s, how we learn. Our immediate teaching response was to tinker with ‘School Learning’ – relocate our current timetable and reproduce it in a refined and amended way for an online environment at home.
This will not be good enough into the near future.
Why? Within a few weeks we have learnt that online learning is relentlessly intense with much time dedicated towards managing a directive curriculum. Also, in many cases, parents have had to quickly adapt their homes and routines, which are not well resourced for traditional learning, in and among their own work from home. Families have felt that added pressure, staff have experienced more challenges than ever before, and many students are feeling a little lost, confused and even disconnected through social isolation.
In the last week of term, all staff have come together to review the situation. Our first step was to connect with families of 128 students (out of 945) who had not connected with either Seesaw or Canvas, our learning management platforms. I’m proud to say through the concerted efforts of office staff, teacher assistants and our IT team, there are now 28 families who are yet to establish connection to online learning for their children. Our goal is to have 100% of our families connected by the beginning of Term 2. It’s a lofty goal, but a goal worth pursuing in the interest of equity for all.
So, what next? What happens when all students, or at least the vast majority are connected for online learning? Well, we know learning has to change. From the beginning of next term, we will make the next step to move away from our recent and necessary immediate response to develop ‘Home Learning’ to a more ‘Connected Learning’ environment. Connected Learning is underpinned by a set of principles and enabled by a weekly routine for K-4 and a weekly routine for 5-9 with permission given to the household to amend and flex the routine based on local circumstance.
Connected Learning is a result of what we recently learnt and what we need to unlearn. Connected Learning is a blend of teacher-led, parent supported and self-directed learning which wraps around the wellbeing of each student. Connected Learning reimagines elements of the traditional where we have had to gorgo the order and certainty which we’ve been so used to for so long in schools. Most notably Connected Learning:
- Maintains routine but reduces learning time. Online work is tiring, for everyone. 300 minutes per day in front of a screen is not sustainable. We cannot simply transfer the flow of our current timetable which adheres to NESA indicative hours and system directives. It will not work. Those days are not these days.
- Focuses on wellbeing! During this time of isolation, each person needs to give attention to themselves. All students, families, and staff are encouraged to practice wellness, self-management and adopt an optimistic sense of perseverance.
- Uses synchronous approaches so students can communicate what they can and can’t do.
- Maximises the potential of Learning Management Systems and Learning Platforms to structure effective asynchronous learning for students to pace and direct their own learning.
At the moment we are seeking feedback from students (5-9) and parents. Their input will further refine ‘Connected Learning’ so that we commence Term 2 with a considered understanding of learning in this new world.
Comments and feedback are welcome,