This is an exciting and challenging time for education, as we strive to support our students through unforeseeable events. As an independent school, we have been fortunate to have the freedom to start planning early and develop our approach to learning in this unique environment. This meant that we were able introduce and trial our model for Continuous Learning when both staff and students were at School. We were able to move agilely to train staff and students, fine-tune technical issues and set key expectations about the safe and responsible use of technology. This has proved invaluable in our development of our program and allowed us to trial it, survey stakeholders and make adjustments to fit our community’s needs.
In a time when many things seem out of their control, we wanted our students to feel like school was a familiar constant. This is why we adopted the term continuous learning: we wanted to place an emphasis on what would still be going on. Our delivery structure may have changed, but the Strathcona community continues to communicate, support and learn together. That looks differently at each year level according to their needs and capabilities.
While we have long been using our MyStrathcona platform to share news, learning activities and feedback with our families, we knew very early that we would need to provide more in this new learning environment. For many of our students, relationships are what makes school a safe place for them. Girls in particular flourish in a collaborative learning environment and this becomes even more important in a time of social distancing. To create a safe place where this could happen, we introduced the Microsoft Teams platform for students in Years 4-12. Every classroom has a place in Microsoft Teams to meet by video. This is a valuable opportunity for our teachers to maintain their connection with students and introduce the learning activities for each class. Our teachers have embraced the challenge of adapting their approach to engage students, from Food Technology’s hilarious cooking tutorials to our drama teacher’s Play School inspired videos on the women of Shakespeare. We might be physically distant, but it seems like we are getting closer together as a community as we share this experience.
Students in ELC-Year 3 are still learning how to navigate the world and need an active style of learning. To cater for this, our students in ELC-Year 3 have a daily package of activities accompanied with a videos from their teacher. We know that many of our parents will be working from home themselves, so this asynchronous approach allows parents to structure these learning activities around their family’s specific needs. In Term 2, we will adding an opportunity for our parents and daughters to join in sharing classroom sessions.
We are proud of the way that our staff, students and parents have embraced continuous learning at Strathcona. We certainly have lived up to our tagline: girls unstoppable!