As our schools emerge from remote learning, back to the classroom, there has been much debate about the impact of this period of learning from the home on our students’ academic and social progress. Clearly, it would be expected that the impact would be strongest for our younger students in their early, formative years. Our Year 12 students, with their limited time, crowded curriculum and HSC Major works, could also be impacted significantly. Currently the available research focuses only on the impact on disadvantaged children.
Emanuel School, like many others, has focussed on providing continuity of learning throughout this period of home learning. Anecdotally, a number of our students have reported that they have thrived under the remote learning experience, citing increased time to focus and reflect on tasks, less social distractions and an increased ability to establish a manageable pace. They have enjoyed the flexibility and freedom of online learning. Others have however struggled with the amount of onscreen time, the technological glitches, the steep technology learning curve, the lack of personal contact and the difficulties around receiving clarification and immediate feedback. As time has passed and the novelty has waned, increasing numbers of our students are looking forward to a return to school. It has been no different for our teachers and those parents of younger children who have worked alongside them and provided much-needed support and guidance. Never has the home-school partnership been so important and so strong.
Despite the best efforts of our dedicated teachers; their creative and innovative use of technology; their engaging online lessons; their regular follow up and their care and support – the question remains… will there be gaps in our students’ learning? To add context, we have commenced our return to campus after five weeks of remote, online learning. It may be helpful to know that this period constitutes 12.5% of the school calendar year and approximately 1-2% of their Primary School or High School experience. Our hope is that over the coming months, any gaps in learning, if they exist, can be identified and remedied swiftly by our teachers. Our advice to parents is that any requests for leave should be carefully considered, in a year where continuity of learning has been a challenge.
On a positive note, as a direct result of the recent closure of schools across Australia, our teachers have designed teaching and learning that can be delivered flexibly and in significantly new and different ways. We now have the opportunity to make good use of the new skillset, mindset and confidence of our teachers, to cherry-pick the best of the technological tools and embed these into our future programs.
Andrew Watt, Principal