It was all smiles in the Santa Sabina College virtual community on Wednesday morning and no sign of global crisis as students began their remote learning, mostly from home. Out of uniform, yet punctual and eager to learn, our students from Prep to Year 12 logged in at 8:45am and began their temporary new way of learning enthusiastically.
Santa Sabina’s Remote Learning Plan came into action after several days of around-the-clock collaborative creativity from the school staff. Without a roadmap and amidst unprecedented circumstances, they created a viable educational program which could be delivered online rather than in physical classrooms. One pupil-free day was held on Tuesday, so that students could set up their working arrangements at home and test the systems which include the College’s own learning management system, Veritas Online, as well as Google apps, Education Perfect, Hotmaths and edrolo.
A handful of students are still coming in to the College each day for the same remote lessons, in line with the government directive for schools to remain open for students who cannot remain at home. Teachers are working either at the College or from home, depending on their individual circumstances.
All Santa’s teachers have fine-tuned their resources, lesson plans and learning experiences so that they can be delivered to students in an engaging and connected way. The teachers are still setting assessments and classwork, they are marking tasks and providing feedback to both parents and children. The timetable is new but still includes Homeroom at the beginning of each day and the marking of the school roll. Students and parents have been invited to provide feedback on the innovative redesign of teaching and learning.
This is not home schooling. The role of parents is to support their children by defining spaces for work, monitoring communications from teachers and encouraging physical activity. One parent told the College, ‘amazing work from all the staff at Santa. You should all be congratulated, haven’t had to put my teacher hat on yet so happy mummy’.
College Principal, Paulina Skerman, said many families had reached out to the College offering support and words of thanks. ‘These messages of support mean so much as we move into new ways of working’, she said.
At the end of the first class, one of the teachers commented, ‘They were all involved and engaged and not on their phones (what a bonus). I think they really need and enjoy the contact.’
The first phase of the program runs from 25 March until the end of term, which has been brought forward to Friday 3 April. After the Easter break, on Monday 27 April, Phase Two of Santa’s new program will introduce an enhanced experience which is more than the curriculum. Named Santa Strong, the holistic program will ensure that the students are connected, energised and engaged through weekly assemblies and community activities, music, wellness, spirituality, co-curricular activities, enrichment, physical and cultural activities. Cybersecurity has also been emphasised in the College’s training of the students.