Lessons Learned in Lockdown

Saturday, March 20, 2021

This week we celebrate the one-year anniversary of Lockdown – celebration of the full Fairholme curriculum being available for pupils online in the form of Edmodo assignments and celebration of the independence forged by pupils in this 21st century teaching and learning experience.

We all have our own memories of March 2020. For us, the most striking one was the realisation that schools were under threat of imminent closure, something that just a few weeks before would have been unthinkable. Having realised this, thoughts turned to how we could continue to teach children when both they and their teachers would be at home.

We were fortunate that we had been using Edmodo as a platform for communication between teachers for a number of years and were aware that it could be readily extendible to classes and to individual pupils. Online classes were created and pupils assigned. Children were introduced to the system and the process of setting assignments and receiving and marking work were tested.

A key element of our system arose from the request of a parent to film Mrs Perkins explaining a verbal reasoning concept. We felt this was a great idea, giving the opportunity for children to watch and re-watch teachers introducing subjects and explaining key concepts. Zoom sessions were added to give live teacher contact. It became clear, with experience, that the balance between assignments, video recordings and live sessions needed to vary between age groups. For older children, it was important for them to develop independent learning: introductions on Zoom, practising with the help of videos and independent completion of weekly assignments. Younger children needed more live support, particularly with reading practice, individually or in small groups.

Eventual return to school in September meant reconsidering how lessons were delivered with social-distancing, reduction in contact with textbooks and materials and possible need for self-isolation. Purchase of Chromebooks and redistribution of other computers gave every child direct access to assignments in school providing a seamless transition between working at school and working at home.

These have been difficult times for many. What we think is remarkable is how our staff have responded to the circumstances, evolving their online learning provision to meet the new conditions. We have been fortunate in being able to make instant decisions to react to changing needs. There is no doubt that the pandemic has brought about a lasting change to how we deliver lessons. Continuing use of Edmodo both in and out of the classroom has contributed to children developing their independent learning skills, something that will be invaluable further on in their education.