Well, we have made it to the end of Term 1! In my entire teaching career, I have never been involved in a situation quite like the one we find ourselves in at present. Teaching has looked very different over the last few weeks and will continue to be a learning journey as we overcome the many hurdles in the remote learning space. It is a difficult and unsettling time for everyone but I draw strength from the lovely feedback we have been receiving from families and the collegiality that has been consistently present amongst all staff as we prepare for remote learning in Term 2.
The staff has spent Week 10 in four days of Professional Learning to review our experience to date, make necessary changes as educators and ensure we have the new Microsoft Teams Platform running for Term 2. This platform is being used by all Canberra/Goulburn Catholic schools so that there is a common place with added security in which to utilise online learning, video/conference facilities. With Microsoft Teams there will be channels that include each class member. Specialist teachers will also have access to these classes and will follow the felxible class timetables. The administrative roll out of the system will occur during the holiday break and, consequently, the Director of Catholic Education has made the first day back next term, Tuesday, 28 April a pupil free day so that all technical issues concerning the platform can be stabilised ready for full implementation by Wednesday of Week 1. If you are unable to find care for your child/ren on this day, please let me know as soon as possible via email.
Additionally, we have made Friday, 24 April the day for families to collect from school the hardcopy packs for all classes. Teachers have prepared hardcopy tasks so that screen time is balanced during the day. Breen Fox and I will available between 10 am and noon as well as 2pm until 4pm for work collection. Kinder and Year 1 classes have prepared packs that cover work for two weeks. Packs for the rest of the term will be available fortnightly on Fridays. Years 2 to 6 packs are prepared for the whole term as much of their work is included in Google Classrooms. If anyone is unable to collect their packs at this time can you please let me know via email.
For students of essential workers that will be returning to school next term, we will transition into winter uniform over the first couple of weeks as the temperature can often fluctuate at this time of year. We will continue to wear hats until the end of May.
As we move into Easter and the end of Term 1 break, I wish to thank everyone for their understanding, care and messages of support in the concluding weeks of this unusual term. School has been a very different place lately, notably a much quieter environment. We really miss the children and the general buzz that is everyday life each day in a school. Let us pray that our whole community continues to stay safe and that some sort of normality can return sooner rather than later. We especially remember those working on the front line during this pandemic and those who are still working either onsite or from home keeping our beautiful city going.
On behalf of the staff, I wish you all a very happy and holy Easter as well as a safe holiday. Everyone continues to be in our thoughts as we journey through this time together.
As we trial a remote learning program we wanted to provide a little advice to help your child successfully participate in the learning program from home. Please feel free to make contact with your child’s teacher to ask questions. It is a program in development and we would welcome your feedback.
What is remote learning?
Remote Learning is when students participate in a school-provided learning program from an alternative location while not being physically present in the school. This can be short or long term and for a variety of reasons including illness or school closure. The learning program is planned, prepared and delivered by teachers of the school to the students in their classes. Those students who will still be attending school next term, will also be completing the same work in the remote learning packs/platform.
What do we want to achieve in our remote learning program?
We recognise that regardless of how long, this is a temporary measure for students, families and staff. We want to ensure that the transition to remote learning is smooth for students and families but also undertaken in a way that allows for a smooth transition back to school when normal school operations resume. There is a lot to take into consideration including the length of the home learning required and the technology available to families and students. Based on information received about family capacity we are going to provide an opportunity for a combination of online/digital and hardcopy methods.
In this trial our goal is to maintain students’ learning as best as possible in the areas of literacy, numeracy and our integrated inquiry units (these include The Arts, Humanities, RE, Health and Physical Education, Digital Technology). We will endeavour to maintain our specialist programs of Library, French, Music and STEM.
More importantly, we want to ensure that students continue to experience a sense of belonging to St Bede’s Primary School, to their class and have the opportunity to maintain positive connections with their peers and teachers.
What will it look like?
As we move through stages towards implementing a sustainable remote learning program, we want to provide a little advice to help your child successfully participate in the learning program from home/school. We quickly provided each child with a Remote Learning Pack for Weeks 9 & 10. This pack contained a flexible structure to support families and staff in this time of rapid change.
Staff have spent these last two weeks redesigning pedagogy and re-envisioning curriculum to support student learning and engagement during Term 2. Your child’s teacher has spent this week in Professional Learning to educate themselves in the new online platform that Catholic Education are supporting across the system. This new platform is Microsoft Teams and is on online tool, including check-in so teachers can have direct contact with their students. At present our focus has been in developing the online component.
Our teachers will set a daily schedule of learning for students which will assist families to set up learning routines, but have built in flexibility to respond to the demands of each household. We ask during the first two weeks of Term 2 that you work with your child/children to adapt the schedule to your family needs. The daily schedule will include:
- Flexible working units (including Arts, Integrated Inquiry Units, PE etc)
The tasks may involve watching a pre-recorded video, participating in a live streaming session, completing an online task (independently or collaboratively), completing a hard copy task in a workbook or a page to be printed out.
Please note that our staff are rapidly working to build their capacity to construct these tasks and it will take time for this to occur. We will be starting our trial in a simple and structured way, increasing sophistication as we see how students are responding and engaging and as any teething issues are rectified. Your feedback is welcome as we work together to obtain a balanced remote learning program for students.
Do we need to follow the schedule like a school day?
No. Your family will have a schedule that works for you. You may choose to use a lot of the morning or the afternoon to undertake the remote learning program and do other activities during the other times. It is important to manage each day in a way that is sustainable for your children and your family. The tasks will remain available for students to independently engage with any time of the day.
How do we communicate?
We are finalising a way that students can communicate with their teacher if they are having an issue or question. An avenue through Microsoft Teams will allow access through conferencing or chat. This will be introduced over time. Access will be available after the Easter break. Catholic Education is currently populating the data to set up class groups. The protocols and expectations in this platform will be circulated early next term. In the meantime, students can contact their teacher using their school cg mail account.
Whole school messaging will continue to be via SZapp and email. Parents are to continue to communicate with the teacher via email. Again, teachers will reply to the communication in a timely manner depending on the circumstances or time it occurs.
The student learning platforms will be reserved for students and teachers only. Your child is encouraged to share what they are doing within the platform. This may look different for those students in the younger grades as they will need parent assistance. More information in this space will be shared as we become familiar with the processes.
How will the teacher and students work together?
Each teacher will be available to directly work with students between 9.00am and 3.10pm as per normal school hours. Teachers are currently designing timetables of the day’s learning which will be included in the packs. During school hours teachers will be:
- monitoring student progress on tasks.
- responding to student submissions of tasks completed.
- assisting individual students or small groups through online means. These will ordinarily be scheduled ahead of time.
- answering questions from parents and students via email or Google classrooms.
When students are working alone at home it is easy to imagine that teachers can respond to questions in an instant messaging kind of scenario. Teachers will want to assist students at their time of need but they may not be able to because:
- they are currently working with another student.
- they are on their own recess or lunch break and will return after.
- they are having a designated Release from Face to Face (RFF) time and the Library, French, Music or STEM Teacher is online to assist any students with their
- their ‘face-to-face’ hours have finished for the day.
Teachers will always do their best to respond and engage in a timely manner. Depending on the time and the nature of any requests this may even have to be the next day.
What technical support will be available to families?
Technical support is offered in a couple of ways-
- passwords and learning tasks – contact teachers
- Technical issues – contact the CE ICT Helpdesk on 1300232448. The number is also displayed on a banner on our website.
It is important to know that:
- We are required to record student attendance each day. This will involve parents/students completing a daily digital survey via a link.
- Teachers may still have sick days. This will mean that students will complete any tasks previously set for this day or undertake some tasks from the ‘Home Learning Pack’ that was sent home or Google classrooms. Teachers will not be expected to be online if they are sick. An announcement will be placed through SZapp or parent email if a teacher is sick that day so that students and parents are aware.
- At times, some teachers may be working from home to share responsibilities within their own families. We will endeavour to contact you when this is taking place.
- Classes who share part-time teachers will continue to operate in this way. They will continue to be present online the same days they ordinarily teach their class.
- Specialist teachers (Library, French, Music and STEM) will continue to be available to students on the days that they are at school.
- We totally understand that homes are busy places especially if you have a number of children all doing remote learning as well as juggling your own work commitments. Be gentle with yourselves at this time and use this time as an opportunity to be with each other and get to know your child/ren as learners.
How do I set my child up to participate in this remote learning program?
- make sure that you have access to your child’s Google Classroom login details
- establish your family routines and your expectations
- define a space for your child to work in
- monitor communications from teachers
- begin and end each day with a check-in
- In the morning ask:
- What are you learning today?
- What do you need to get done today?
- How will you be spending your time?
- What do you need to get this done?
- What help do you need?
- In the afternoon ask:
- What did you learn today?
- Acknowledge one thing that was difficult. Either let it go or come up with a strategy if the same thing happens again.
- Consider three things that went well today. Why were they good?
- Are you okay? Do you need to ask your teacher for something? Do you need help with something to make tomorrow more successful?
- where possible take an active role in helping your children process their learning
- encourage physical activity and/or exercise
- check in with your child regularly to help them manage stress
- monitor how much time your child is spending online
- In the morning ask:
What are the student’s responsibilities?
These responsibilities should be adjusted according to the age of your child:
- establishing and/or following a daily routine for learning
- identifying a safe, comfortable, quiet space in their home where they can work effectively and successfully
- regularly monitoring digital platforms and communication (Google Classroom, Mathletics, Reading Eggs, email, etc.) to check for announcements and feedback from teachers
- doing their best work
- doing their best to meet timelines, commitments, and due dates
- communicating proactively with their teachers if they cannot meet deadlines or require additional support
- collaborating and supporting their classmates in their learning
- complying with the Student ICT User Agreement.
Remote learning is new for all of us. Delivering this into homes will be different to the normally highly structured routines of a school. It is important that families continue to focus on the wellbeing of their children. Don’t feel guilty if days don’t go to plan. Everyone is trying to do their best in very new and difficult circumstances.
Through this trial we are looking forward to the new opportunities for learning that will be created. Teachers, students and parents are all learning together. Our school motto is ‘Walk in love and Peace’. Let’s all be patient, kind and open to each other and the new learning opportunities that will occur in the coming weeks.
Please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or myself at any time to clarify any issues and we’ll do our best to support you.