Despite the challenges the RGS faced, Lockdown came as no great surprise to anyone in March 2020, in the end. Planning had been taking place for this scenario for a couple of weeks, and the opportunity to develop our teachers’ and students’ skills in Microsoft Teams was taken. Trials of teaching using Teams had already been done: setting and marking work remotely and allowing teachers and students to maintain live interactions.
What did we do?
A key principle of our online delivery was to ensure that our students and teachers kept as much live interaction as possible. The ability to see and hear each other is a critical part of developing the kinds of good relationships that foster a good education. To enable that to happen teachers were required to ensure that at least half of their lessons involved some form of live interaction with students. That meant we could flip the learning and use the other half of lessons for preparatory or consolidatory work, or even just to continue to teach. This enabled our teachers to continue to develop their pedagogy and support students’ learning effectively.
Students also had to get to grips with much more independent learning and taking more responsibility for themselves. This included reading ahead of lessons to be able to join in with the discussions that followed in the next lesson.
How did it go?
We feel that our hybrid teaching went very well. It was an incredibly steep learning curve for all of us – teachers, students and, of course, parents as well. We asked all our students what they thought of the hybrid learning experience. Their reflections were fascinating to read. They found it challenging, that’s for sure, but they also found it liberating to be able to take much more responsibility for their own learning, organisation and time management.
There is little doubt in our minds that this generation should be much more resilient as learners as a result of the experience.
What are we doing now?
We have continued with our hybrid learning this academic year. All of our teachers have been provided with a Microsoft Surface Pro laptop that allows them to set up Teams meetings to ensure students who are self-isolating are able to access lessons. This has allowed teachers who have been forced to self-isolate to still have the ability to teach from home with their classes in school.
This has also helped ensure that all our students, whether in school or forced to be at home, can continue to have the benefit of an RGS education.
How will we cope in the future?
When the pandemic will end is anyone’s guess, but the RGS has invested a lot of time, money and effort into developing our digital learning experience. It is clear to us that we will only go forward from this period. What has been learned about the use of technology to enhance learning and make it both better and more efficient is here to stay. Things will never be the same again.