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.
Mrs Sue Floro
Head of Knox Prep
It has been characterised by constantly evolving and ever changing circumstances, fast paced manoeuvring, rapid upskilling, pivoting, adapting... I don’t need to explain it to you, our community, for you have lived it too!
Whilst it would be easy to focus on what didn’t work, and there were plenty of challenges to be overcome along the way, in the story that follows, we have tried to capture a snapshot of how we forged ahead, despite the challenges; examples of our boys adapting and developing far greater independence than we may have expected previously; and how we sought to provide as much certainty for our boys, in the face of worldwide uncertainty. It is a testament to all members of our community that we are emerging now, out the other side, well connected and positive about the experience we have had. 2020 is certainly a year we will never forget!
Mrs Mary Mae Burton, Kindergarten Team Leader
The start to our 2020 Kindergarten boys’ schooling was undoubtedly under exceptional circumstances. No sooner had the boys settled into Knox school life, they were moved to online learning with a barrage of changes. Undeterred by the challenge, the boys adapted extremely well, showing great resilience, perseverance and using a growth mindset.
They coped with changing technology, expectations and the familiarity and comfort of their face-to-face daily routine. Through Zoom, we were able to deliver instructions and support them with their learning by being available to explain, elaborate and answer any questions. Another primary tool Kindergarten used was the Seesaw app, making learning engaging and fun.
Through this app, we created activities that the boys completed online and away from their device. Their results were then uploaded for review and assessment. Recording videos of lessons in advance and posting online helped boys (and parents) access the content conveniently and repeatedly, if needed, to support their learning. Our focus was to create a balance as we continued to build our relationships with the boys online through sharing storybooks, playing games, taking ‘brain breaks’ together and spending time talking, listening and sharing.
It was so important to see the boys’ faces, for the boys to see each other’s faces and for them to see ours - to all stay connected. Crucial to the success of online learning was clear communication and collaboration with the parents. The Kindergarten parents were amazingly supportive throughout the process, for which we are extremely grateful.
"We have been so incredibly proud of the way in which the boys have continued to be motivated with their learning and their eagerness to come online every day and be flexible, inquisitive learners."
— Mr Liam Flanagan, Year 6 Team Leader
Mr Jared Rastall, Year 4 Team Leader
We are very proud of all our boys for their flexibility and adaptability as they grappled and learnt alongside us when remote learning began in late Term 1. We have noticed how their problem-solving, independence and organisation skills helped them to develop their overall sense of agency; we believe that our boys are becoming more responsible and assertive with their learning and we feel that this will have a positive impact on their future education.
In beginning remote learning, our aim was to provide boys with as much normalcy as possible. We looked for ways to continue to foster class discussion and to build deep and reflective thinking through our lessons, but we also wanted to recognise the significant impact that the pandemic would have on the wellbeing of our boys and their families. We embedded opportunities for discussion through live Zoom lessons and through programs such as Nearpod and we worked through ways the boys could continue to connect with each other and with us through ‘Breakout Rooms’ and interactive, structured and collaborative tasks.
Over the school holidays, members of the Year 4 team worked on developing fun videos and tasks to entertain the boys at home and provide reprieve to tired parents. As teachers, we have been so grateful for the support and feedback that our parents have continued to provide. Building relationships and connections in teaching is so important. Whilst remote learning, the boys’ newest classmates (their pets!) would have loved the added attention. We will all look back on this time and celebrate the enormous achievements our boys have made, but we will also look to the future with an even greater appreciation for the relationships we build when we are all working and learning together under one roof.
Mrs Tammy Paterson, Year 5 Team Leader
What an interesting few months it has been! As we approached online learning for the first time, we were apprehensive but at the same quite excited. The Year 5 team could not be more proud of the work that our boys have completed with their online learning. They really have exceeded our expectations, showing resilience, organisation and time management and for many, the importance of reading instructions carefully.
Days started with a Year 5 Zoom greeting with boys then meeting their Class teacher to find out the plan for the day ahead. The boys navigated their way through the Year 5 online leaning platform with skill and many supported their peers who were slightly unsure. Our students have completed Google documents, Google slides, edited writing and participated in Nearpod sessions. They have created rainforest models, sculptures for Art, built tall towers, read books and completed random acts of kindness. If this was not enough, the boys were kept active as they completed daily physical challenges such as wall sits, push ups, planks and speed skipping.
Our inquiry into the rainforest continued as we started Term 2 where the boys then began their own biome inquiry. This knowledge and understanding culminated into the creation of a merge cube using augmented reality. We thank our Year 5 parents for working with us in such effective collaboration during this challenging time.
The article was first published in the June 2020 edition of 'The Thistle'.
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