By Mr Lukas Silver, Assistant Principal Teaching and Learning at Alphington Grammar
At the beginning of Term 2, we were faced with the challenge of shifting our entire curriculum to an online platform. For many schools, this would have presented challenges so great that their curriculum delivery would have been compromised. Thankfully, at Alphington, the heart of our Teaching and Learning philosophy is the student. Relationships are at the core of all our Teaching and Learning success, which is one of the main reasons we were able to transition to Remote Learning with relative ease. Student centred learning means that we know our students extremely well, and by extension, we know their learning needs, we know their personalities, we know who needs additional support and who needs the challenges of extension tasks and, we also know when we need to occasionally ease the pressure off in order to maintain the student’s wellbeing and self-esteem. The students were ready and the trust they have in their teachers meant the transition was relatively trouble-free.
Now in Term 3, we once again find ourselves in the same situation. For the first time in the history of our school, we recently conducted Parent Teacher Interviews across the whole school, entirely online. We have created a Remote Learning Online Forum to share ideas, resources and other examples of best practice during Remote Learning. Many of our staff shared the feedback they received from our parents during the interviews, which was truly amazing! The increased stress levels parents are experiencing during this second phase of Remote Learning has been covered extensively in the media. They could have used the Parent Teacher Interviews as an opportunity to unburden themselves of some of that stress, but the generosity of our parents’ support was stirring. They were able to empathise with the teachers, they recognised how much work we are doing to ensure their child’s education continues without interruption. It was amazing. That attitude, that connection is what makes Alphington Grammar School a very special place.
With the help of the feedback gathered from our students and parents after RL 1.0, we were able to refine the current delivery. This has enabled us to deliver the same quality curriculum provision — with challenge and rigour — while tempering the content with more inquiry-based research projects to alleviate some of the stress on the students and parents. Additionally, we streamlined homework task and transitioned to more formative assessment, rather than summative. Assessment for learning has been honed and embedded in tasks to ensure learning has been understood.
I think it is important during times like these to take stock and to try to find some perspective. Easier said than done, I know! We are extremely privileged and lucky to be a part of the AGS community. Our students haven’t had to wait for government funded devices or rely on weekly, hardcopy materials being posted to their houses to facilitate learning. Some families at other schools have had to bundle up completed work and post it back to the school on a weekly basis. We were fortunate to be able to host COVID testing at school for all our staff, students and families. We haven’t had to rely on extended breakfast clubs to feed the students or wait weeks for the services of a School Psychologist to make contact with a vulnerable student — we have a full-time, onsite psychologist. Some schools have faced all these problems! This pandemic has ravaged our privileged way of life, but we need to keep some perspective. What it has also done is highlight the shocking realities of social inequities in the lives of children who aren’t so privileged or lucky. Our community will take many lessons from this current lockdown and as I always say: all experiences are learning opportunities.
Education, teaching and learning is continually evolving in line with societal needs and requirements. Together we have designed a learning strategy for the future; we have been flexible, thoughtful and above all adaptable. This could not have been achieved without the strong support we receive from our learning community, our parents, our staff and most importantly our students!
Stay strong, stay positive and stay safe.