All schools in Melbourne have been working carefully to best balance the various components of a school education whilst children are in isolation at home. As one parent put it: “We are so grateful for the countless hours you spend on helping support our children, academically and personally.”
Many of us have become aware through experience or prior knowledge that online learning needs to be approached differently to the learning that occurs in a classroom. For students in Melbourne, learning at home is like the distance learning for children in rural and remote areas.
We know this learning is slower in terms of content delivery and that student engagement is critical. Student engagement is highly dependent upon the relational connection between the teacher and the student. Even the best relationships can be difficult to maintain in an online environment where recognition of the nuance of body language and facial expression is limited. It is near impossible to maintain in an environment where the learning is conducted only via pen and paper.
At The Knox School, the relationship between teacher and student, the Connection is one of the pillars of our learning strategy. Like many local schools, this relationship has been a major positive factor in the ongoing learning for children at home. “We thank you all sincerely for caring so much.” (Parent comment.)
This connection has been evident in online learning but also in the preparation and delivery of care packages and learning bags, often delivered personally by our bus drivers. Class teachers in the Junior School, Tutors, Lead Tutors, Heads of House and our Project Manager: Character have all worked assiduously to develop and implement Passion Projects and other wellbeing-focused exercises for students in age appropriate ways. As one parent put it: “The support and care of the staff have continued to show all students is incredible.”
The other pillars in our strategy are Shape, Provoke and Position. Parents and teachers in The Knox School community do not resile from their responsibility to shape the young people in their care. We are role models whether we like it or not, and the influence we bring to bear on young people is an important component in their development, whether they be at home or in a classroom. In doing this, we build a community worthy of belonging: “We feel very fortunate to be part of this community during these difficult times. “(Parent comment.)
Connection and Shape would be explicit or implicit goals of how every school conducts its business. At The Knox school we also then Provoke the thinking of our students in order to move them into a space that is new learning. This can be uncomfortable for both teacher and students but required if high quality new learning is our goal.
Connect, Shape, and Provoke all lead to the Positioning of our students for future success. The role of all schools is to see their students positioned for future success, no matter what that might be.
The current circumstances we all find ourselves in here in Melbourne have not changed what we aim and strive to achieve with our students and children. Our current circumstances have simply made us stop and think carefully about those goals, aims and outcomes, and how best to see them occur. While all schools may have similar goals and aims, how they are implemented can vary discernibly.
Home campus learning is hard work for all concerned and, in the light of circumstances we cannot control, it has been a huge learning experience for us all.
It is fitting that parents have the last words in how we have taken on this challenge:
“I would like to thank each of you for your leadership, dedication and professionalism.”
“We thank you for your leadership and guidance during this time.”