2020 will certainly be a year we will always remember as a turning point in education. The Global COVID-19 Pandemic reached Australia and schools had to quickly transition their delivery of learning to adjust to new restrictions and social distancing requirements. Within weeks the teachers at Wahroonga Prep showed remarkable resilience, adaptability and flexibility as conditions changed.
Mrs Julie Wiseman
Head of Wahroonga Prep
Initially, we commenced with a dual model with some children at school being taught traditionally with a face to face model and others in each grade at home received learning remotely. Soon this model changed to only providing online instruction as health advice encouraged children to remain at home.
Each teacher and assistant at Wahroonga Prep displayed courage and tenacity as they quickly upskilled in using new learning platforms. Lessons were redesigned to suit an online delivery, iPads were issued to children across K-6, resource packs were developed for our youngest children in Pre-Kindergarten and additional resources for sport and art were sent home.
Change of this magnitude would usually take a year to prepare but without the luxury of time the teachers were outstanding in managing to continue to deliver a high quality learning program meeting the NSW syllabus outcomes with a new method of delivery.
With a high level of optimism and wonderful support from the School and local community, Term 1 concluded with children, teachers and parents having learnt a great deal of the school curriculum as well as learning about themselves. Being isolated at home and spending more time with family suited many children who thrived, while for others the change brought challenges; but this too was a learning opportunity.
Videos and support material were developed for parents by the School psychologists and wellbeing team. IT coordinators reached out to support parents, students and teachers and focussed on the pedagogy as well as the technology. The Chaplains continued with weekly chapel services. Specialist teachers, including our strings program and extensive peripatetic music program, were all delivered remotely.
"Whilst we all missed the children being on campus and the giggles and laughter that we were used to every day, we could also see many positives."
— Mrs Julie Wiseman, Head of Wahroonga Prep
Teachers found new ways to engage with the students, introducing interactive quizzes and real time tutorials. Others started pre-recording lessons so that children could replay the direct instruction several times to ensure complete understanding.
Children gave us honest feedback and teachers reported that they felt less reserved in the online environment and their acting skills blossomed!
In the last few weeks of Term 1, iPads were distributed to Pre-Kindergarten children ready to use in Term 2 to supplement the resource packages already produced. Teachers made videos to send to the parents outlining how the delivery of online learning would be managed with our youngest children. We were delighted that all teachers were upskilled to use Seesaw, Zoom, Google Classroom and NearPod for lesson preparation. New teams flourished as teachers reached out to support one another and new leaders emerged, demonstrating patience and kindness and understanding.
As we move forward delivering high quality learning, the teachers are demonstrating the Knox values of Faith, Integrity, Wisdom, Compassion and Courage. They have been role models to the students and the community displaying resilience, agility and optimism. We can look back on this time period as Wahroonga Prep being a part of history in the way we teach and learn.
Mrs Julie Wiseman
Head of Wahroonga Prep
This article was originally published in the June 2020 edition of The Thistle magazine.
05 August 2020
There is a term that has been around for a while now – VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. I think we can safely say that we have all, collectively, lived the VUCA world for the past several months.
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