Embracing change

In January, if you had told me that in Term 2 I would be teaching solely online using a variety of digital software and relying so much on my connectivity and my ability to flexibly move from one platform to another, having ten tabs open and navigating seamlessly between all of them whilst trying to check my students have understood the Passé Simple and taking the roll at the same time, I would have said you were insane!

I am not a technophobe, but I never considered myself a techno whizz either. I have always embraced the positives having the use of a laptop brings to my teaching. Yes, it helps me access a tonne more information than in the not-so-distant past and yes, it provides me with authentic, original and diverse material that I can share with my students. But they would be the first ones to tell you that technology always goes wrong for me: the sound never works or the cable is broken, leaving me frustrated and swearing that I would never use Vivi again! Well, in these last 10 weeks, I have really been pushed out of my comfort zone, like many other colleagues I expect, and I have mastered Microsoft Teams, Canvas online conferences and all other features of our new Learning Management System such as creating online quizzes and polls and producing assignments that can be submitted online. I have learnt how to record over a PowerPoint, how to design a Prezi video and how to create PDFs from scans (using the Abode Scan App, which I would highly recommend); I have mastered the art of editing and combining documents with Adobe; and I’ve played around with the video camera and shared links I didn’t know existed!

All in all, my capacity to learn how to do all these things has certainly surprised me, and I am sure our students have also been surprised by how flexible they have become and how much better they are at working independently. Undoubtedly, there are things which worked well in the remote online learning space and Mr Young has asked our students’ views on what they thought we could potentially retain once back in school. We look forward to reading their responses.

There will be many things we won’t miss about online teaching and learning, but as we prepare to welcome our students back – with Years 12 and 11 first on 25 May and Year 10 shortly after on 1 June – it’s important we all take a minute to reflect on the positive outcomes of the pandemic and appreciate the way in which we have all pulled together and continued to do what we do, albeit with some modifications – for example, our online Year 12 Parent Student Teacher Interviews.

Another great example of this is the way our Careers Counsellors have been able to advise students remotely, with Year 10 students now having completed their Morrisby questionnaires online independently and now partaking in careers interviews through Microsoft Teams to discuss their report. I encourage Year 10 students to book a time with Mr Black or Mrs Siva if they haven’t already. The Careers team have also planned to deliver the Year 10 Pathways Planning day online on 22 June where students will enjoy viewing videos of our two pathways and subject ones too. The time to choose between the IB and the VCE has come, and by August, Year 10 students will need to have made their subject selections for 2021. If you have any questions about either pathway, don’t hesitate to reach out to the respective VCE and IB co-ordinators: Mrs Black and Mrs Marwa.

As you would have read, we have also modified our usual examination period to replace it with an end of semester assessment period with assessments modified in length and nature. As I said in our Senior School assembly yesterday, we value the purpose of such assessments: the opportunity for students to refine revision skills, to demonstrate the concepts and skills learnt over the whole semester and to practise performing under timed conditions.

Carey teachers have been amazingly adaptable during lockdown and students have been courageous, imaginative and resilient – which are all useful skills for their futures.

Frérique Petithory
Acting Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Learning

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