It’s great to see how other schools are organising their teaching and learning during these new and uncertain times. I have never felt so shaky making decisions as a teaching and learning lead.
Our own efforts have been guided by four key considerations to try and make this work for our whole school community and, in the spirit of sharing, here they are:
Coronavirus: Five key considerations for remote learning
1. We want to allow families time to recalibrate
Our approach thus far has been to upload to our webpage learning tasks that are predominantly retrieval-based, with opportunities for children to self-assess.
We’ve been considering engagement, motivation and accessibility.
We’ve had contact with the children, but we are focusing on enabling our families to find some form of home-learning routine – to find what learning at home looks like for them.
I don’t want our community stressed out, with teachers receiving emails at all hours and worrying about who is attending. This will be a marathon not a sprint and we need to manage the change and up the ante slowly.
2. We want to ensure the disadvantage gap does not widen
This is my biggest concern right now. The children and families who aren’t engaging as much for a multitude of reasons – parents who cannot read, children caring for younger siblings at home – this is all real and completely out of our control and I don’t want them being inadvertently held back because we are not there in our conventional form.
3. We want to optimise teacher effort
We need to ensure that our limited focus is not diverted to what’s "shiny" and instead is directed to developing learning opportunities that are effective. There are so many free technology offers out there at the moment but, without sounding like a technophobe, I do believe "don’t fix it if it ain’t broke" – if the software is better for our staff and our children then, yes, try something new, but let’s not change our methods if they are working for us right now.
We can evolve but let’s not burn everyone out.
4. We want to schedule time away from the computer
Some of our families will have one computer and two or more school-age children. I feel for these families because home isn’t school. I want our teachers to "set the scene on screen" and then encourage the children to do their learning without the computer – this can and should be done.
5. We want to be led by sound principles of teaching and learning
I do think that, in this particular case, being prescriptive about what we want is more beneficial because it reduces the worry as an individual that you aren’t doing it properly or not doing enough – as for staff, we still need to be focusing on our clear and coherent explanations, modelling, how we feedback, etc, not worrying because of lack of clarity.
Hanna Miller is assistant head for teaching and learning across the Thinking Schools Academy Trust. She tweets @notesfromthebun