Heathdale flower 17th April 2020

Yrs 3-6 at Werribee - Remote Learning Reflections

With our Head of Learning Module (Yrs 3-6) Mr Haworth currently on paternity leave, we asked Mr Lienert to give us a rundown on the first week from his perspective.

Heathdale flower

The good bits: The obvious missing element in our teaching days right now is constant interaction with students – and we do miss them. The flipside is that communication with parents and fellow staff has escalated. That’s an unexpected bonus of a difficult situation. I had anticipated that with parents suddenly thrust into the unfamiliar role of home learning assistants, on top of all their regular demands, the increased stress levels might have resulted in us teachers receiving a barrage of terse, frantic emails. True, the messages have streamed in and it’s been a battle to ‘flatten the curve’ on my inbox. But the consistent tone has been warm, appreciative and supportive. Thank you! I’m also spending a lot of time with my fellow teachers, virtually at least. Emails, online chats and ad hoc video meetings have been constants, as we take crash courses (or occasionally just crash) in unfamiliar methods and technological innovations. The frequent peer interaction makes a change from business as usual, when we’re usually the only adult in the room.

Things we have learned: A big challenge is finding a way to distribute learning information and activities in a way that provides content of sufficient depth and breadth for students, while avoiding confusing or overloading them and their parents. It’s a balancing act to try to remotely deliver a program in a form that students of, say, nine, can comprehend without their parents having to walk them through each step. Doubly so, because we usually self-correct by watching, listening to and conversing with students to assess how they’re absorbing what we’re teaching and demonstrating their skills and knowledge. With that direct access removed, we are relying heavily on parent and student feedback to form a picture of how we’re doing and how we can do better.

What parents have been telling us: A key message I’m receiving is that parents want us to please keep it simple. They are also looking to us to find ways to interact with our students and have them interact with each other, and to keep or increase the level of communication and support as much as possible. Thankfully, they are also giving us lots of positive messages about learning activities their children have enjoyed and even ways that whole families have appreciated becoming involved in some of those activities together.

What the plan is for next week: At the younger end of the Years 3-6 learning module, our students have been taking their first steps into the CANVAS learning management system and video meetings. Fortunately, they seem to be catching on quickly, because we anticipate the use of both of those tools increasing. We are learning as we go, but we hope they are two vehicles to move us towards those goals of increasing interaction and communication while delivering engaging, meaningful and beneficial learning content and activities.