Controlled chaos, Monday Funday and the joys of remote teaching
Imagine a scientist who works in the Atlantic Ocean finding herself working atop Mount Everest. She’s doing the same job, but it’s very different. This is what classroom teaching is like in the remote environment! Here’s an example. The Elsternwick Preps and Year 1s have been learning about community volunteers and the usual elements, such as slideshow and dressing up in uniform, are in place; guest speaker Greg Thorpe is ready to go, as are students and teachers, faces reflecting interest, engagement and readiness to learn. In the ‘new normal,’ however, that’s where the similarities end. The multi-screen display is telling a different story: there’s little Amy eating her lunch; in a screen to her left some legs cartwheel into the frame; above that, there’s a little brother joining the class. The urge to laugh out loud is irresistible.
The Year 5 Homeroom teachers thought outside the square about how they could best engage their students offscreen. What emerged was Monday Funday, an approach that reflected what the students needed to learn and what they would enjoy doing. They baked choc chip cookies and muffins, wrote letters to pen pals, ran Australian Ninja Warrior from home and designed scavenger hunts.
Students learned so many new skills in this environment. Charlie Shields created The Lockdown Movie, Oscar McArthur created The Awesome Book and Jasper Watters and Nora Glowinski designed those scavenger hunts. Students navigated new platforms including MS Teams, Hapara, MS OneNote, Screencastify and iMovie.
If there’s one thing we want for our students, it’s the ability to be flexible and adaptable learners. The teachers’ reflection on Monday Fundays was that learning in the midst of a pandemic was not all bad, as they imagined how employable their students will be in years to come.