After talking to some leaders from schools nationally, we at Primary Matters identified some common themes, many of which are congruent with the points outlined in our conversation with Courtney from Open Access College.
Keep students connected
One of the many concerns was how to keep students connected – to their school, to their teachers and to their classmates. The use of technologies such as Microsoft Teams, Skype and Zoom (with updated security) have allowed some form of connection to be maintained. This seems to have worked across the primary years.
Establish a workable routine
The establishment of a routine for home learning is important. This has manifested itself in different ways, such as using an emoji to indicate attendance and readiness to learn, which allows the teacher to make contact via video calling (student may have their video turned off) to outline the expectations for the day. Just as important is the incorporation of breaks for students as they would have at school whether these be snack times, physical activities or just time to reflect.
Issues around child protection have been considered by school leaders with the use of video conferencing. Many schools have set guidelines around it and have engaged parents to check in as well.
Consider the right digital tools
In F–2 classes, some schools have found digital solutions to run literacy and numeracy groups and guided reading sessions. Teachers use one-to-one chats to assess skills in a similar way to a traditional classroom. Whole-group chats are used for explicit instructions as these can be recorded and viewed. Prerecorded lessons are also valuable in this way as they allow families some flexibility. The challenge is to differentiate these forms of learning so that families’ specific circumstances are catered for.
Expect mistakes and reflect
School leaders note there has been an increase in the amount of reflection taking place as teachers, students and parents are prepared to change direction or approach when needed. Teachers are showing agility in adapting the way they deliver and assess the curriculum.
Embrace the learning community
Another positive is that the whole education community is sharing resources. It is developing a connectedness between sectors and jurisdictions. It is a time where our ability to collaborate is incredibly important as is a focus on consideration of others.