Some valuable lessons learned during iso

LIKE all schools, COVID-19 restrictions have challenged Catholic College Sale to change almost all of its learning and teaching practices and day-to-day operations.

Rapid and substantial planning, as well as a great deal of staff improvisation, enterprise and IT skills enhancement have come to the fore.

So too has the goodwill and resourcefulness of students and teachers.

‘How to’ videos have been provided to families and students to help manage remote learning.

Zoom meetings, online question and answer sessions, new technology platforms and more visible learning with clear learning intentions and success criteria have been the hallmarks of the school’s successful transition to remote learning.

As a result, users have improved their troubleshooting skills and mastery of a broader range of digital technologies.

An evaluation of remote learning experiences in the first school closure period from April to May led to some changes in the delivery of learning throughout the second phase.

The stage one period involved a full day of learning, similar to a structured, timetabled day of normal campus learning.

During the stage two period, classes have been mostly in the mornings, with the afternoons set aside as ‘consolidation time’, intended for students to better manage their workload and to liaise with their teachers and peers as needed.

During each phase, students have worn uniforms while online, with school seeing this requirement as signalling to students that they are operating in a formal learning environment, and expected to observe all known protocols of classroom and school life.

The changes which have had to be made have challenged some assumptions about learning and student capability, with many students demonstrating initiative and taking charge of their learning.

Year 11 student Madison Connors said she had been able to be more independent and learn at her own pace, while Year 12 student Jonathon Lam said he had valued having more flexibility in his day.

Food studies teacher Rachael Bown said she and her colleagues had experienced many positive changes in their routines and teaching practices.

“We have become more technology literate, more willing to adapt our courses and assessments, and more collaborative and innovative as we stay connected with students and each other,” she said.

Ms Brown spoke of how food studies learning had become more visual and inclusive of parents and siblings.

“We created a food website where every lesson was online, with some students showing initiative and progressing beyond the set tasks,” she said.

“Students were able to cook for their families as one of many alternative assessments.

“Many parents expressed delight with the delicious family meals.”

Despite the many positives of remote learning reported by students and staff, principal Chris Randell acknowledged that although most – if not all – students had benefited from the remote learning experience, it was no substitute for the richness of peer connectivity and face-to-face learning and support.

He said the vitality and energy of school life, and the wellbeing inputs of a school community, could never be under-valued.

Assistant principal, learning and teaching, Cindy Foat said in transitioning back to normal school routines the school would be giving high priority to “re-establishing community cohesion and vitality”.

“We want our students to prosper and remain invested in their learning, so of course we will also give concerted attention to discerning how we can best leverage the rewarding outcomes of remote learning,” she said.