Words by Dean of Teaching and Learning, Nicole Blyth.
It is fantastic to be back at the College this term with most of our students joining us. The buzz of excitement as everyone reconnects has made us grateful to be taking this positive step towards normality.
Reflecting upon the end of Term 1 where we rapidly pivoted to remote learning, I was very proud of how our teaching and operational services staff responded to the changing educational landscape. Our Learning Technologies and IT Support teams rolled out new tools, conducted testing, ran training for staff and students over a matter of days and produced high-quality how-to guides to assist the entire College community. Teachers were creative in adapting curriculum, and solution-focussed in applying new technology skills to their remote subject delivery to enhance learning from home. They were brave in engaging with change and gave their time selflessly to ensure they were as ready as possible to give their best to support the students they teach.
Teachers are continuing to adapt, as they grapple with the provision of instruction (via online resources or live streaming) and online learning resources to connect with our boarders and students who can’t yet be back with us. Our teachers are continually role modelling for our students that with a sense of calm, positive collaboration and a good degree of resilience, solutions to challenges can be found.
Professor Gary Martin, CEO of the Australian Institute of Management of WA shared in Business News this week, “… teachers are among the everyday unsung heroes” of the pandemic, yet our students, led by Year 12 Boarding Captain Amber Dixon, have ensured that is not the case in a video containing personal messages of gratitude from Year 12 sent to all teachers.
Feedback from the Year 7 to 12 student survey on remote learning was generally positive with some girls relishing the flexibility and independence provided by the opportunity. The data showed that the great majority of students had the skills and dispositions to support their efforts to continue to make progress via remote learning, yet understandably some struggled with motivation and self-management during this time of rapid change. These students received support from their classroom teachers, complimented by individualised follow up via members of our Pastoral and Learning Enhancement teams.
Whilst remote learning provisions lasted only nine days for most, we were keen to gain student feedback to support reflection and aid future planning. This reflection highlighted areas needing further consideration related to the differences in the pace of learning, and student perceptions of workload when learning remotely. It heightened our awareness of our reliance on body language, over-the-shoulder monitoring of progress and real-time feedback in the classroom where teachers typically use a blended approach to teaching and learning (using online tools and digital resources to enhance learning and support face-to-face instruction).
Education continues to evolve as the focus moves from what students know, to how they can apply what they know, and communicate what they think and can do with their knowledge using technology. Teachers are using their experience of remote learning to reflect on their pedagogy and available tools to engage students in learning content and skills. Additional tools and strategies to support personalised learning are being explored, to allow teachers to further differentiate and support individual students on their learning journey as a part of our current strategic plan. Our strong history of technology integration and contemporary pedagogy combined with a focus on continual improvement, will ensure we are well place to continue offering an excellent student-centred education.
We were heartened to see our students reflecting on their remote learning experiences and setting goals for Term 2 as they strive to achieve their personal best irrespective of where they are learning from. We look forward to the return of our boarders to the boarding house, so they too can be back with us in class.