Prior to COVID-19, Home-Based Learning (HBL) is uncharted territory for many. A month and a half ago, it’s clear that this new approach of learning is going to be a steep learning curve for not just teachers but for students and parents alike. The biggest challenge was – how could we replicate a classroom experience and deliver quality teaching and learning without face-to-face interactions?
Preparations started even before the Circuit Breaker measures were implemented. Teachers and staff investigated into Zoom to think about how best we could utilise it to deliver online learning. We did trial runs as a team – unfamiliarity, technical issues and security concerns were just some of the few challenges we had to consider. Fortunately, because of the introduction of Technology this year, students, even our youngest students of 5-6 years old, have become rather savvy at using the computers for learning and to code.
COVID-19 has forced us to step out of our comfort zones and fast tracked the use of technology at The Grange.
To help ease into the transition to home-based learning, we started the first two days with self-directed learning relying mainly on worksheets. This allowed parents and students some time while they established new learning schedules and routines at home. This also gave our teachers more time to prepare for home-based learning as the announcements had come suddenly and abruptly.
At The Grange our priority is always on the Learning and the Learners. Hence, we made a brave decision from the start of home-based learning to follow our usual school timetable and schedules 100%. This was a remarkable feat as compared to many other schools who either chose to only conduct online lessons for a few days a week, or only for limited timings each day. Some schools cut “the not so important subjects” focusing on mainly English, Mathematics and Languages. For us at The Grange, all our subjects are seen as equally important to the students’ learning. Hence, our PSPE teacher continued with physical activities and health lessons online; our Art teacher continued to demonstrate and instruct students online, watching them as they draw and reflect on their work; our Music teacher continued to teach music theory and also taught music appreciation, singing and rhythm work via live video function; and our Coding teacher continued to guide our students to complete projects via Zoom.
For the extended home-based learning period in May, we started to adopt a more balanced format of blended learning as we wanted to reduce exposure to electronic screen time for our learners.
While challenging, there were also lasting positives – both for our teachers and students – who really had to show those important Personal Goals and 21st century skills that we are precious about developing at The Grange. Through this period of home-based learning, although at times challenging, we felt we all picked up additional valuable ICT skills, spent more time with our family, and was more efficient in our work. It also made us miss our school a lot, and no longer take the socialisation experience for granted.
Ultimately, as a whole, this pandemic afforded us the opportunity to unite as a world, focused on what was truly important, and became more compassionate, gracious and understanding towards one another.