2021, Term 3, Week 4
Learning at home - for the teachers as well!
It's the second day of our second Level 4 lockdown in Wellington and it's also a glorious Wellington day, the kind that you just can't beat. Teachers who live closer to school than I do have told me that they've seen our families out for walks and bike rides (in the local area of course) which I think is the perfect use of a lock down.
Yesterday we sent out a message to the whole school with some things that children can do at home to keep their learning going. We know that many of our children have been hard at work on Mathletics, reading books and writing stories. Some have got right back into their "indie learning" activities from last year or are enjoying close to home adventures with whānau. Well done to you all! We also know that many of our mums and dads are now trying to work from home, which is really tricky when the kids are not at school. Whatever your situation, remember that for 'learning at home', it's ok to just do what you can.
Senior leaders at Ridgway School decided that, for these three days of lockdown (August 18 - 20) we would direct our teachers and learning assistants to use their time for professional learning and reflection and for catching up on administrative tasks. If you think that sounds like a holiday, think again! You may not have seen teachers in Google Meets but they are still hard at work.
So what are teachers doing?
Their first meeting of the day is the 9am Team meeting. In these times teachers may be...
checking that children's work is up to date
Loading assessment detail into our Student Management System
Analysing assessment information to work out what each learner needs to work on next
Planning future learning (including for trips or activities)
Updating Hauora plans*
Updating other team members on work done in Teaching As Inquiry** group meetings
Teaching As Inquiry meeting
When they finish in their Team Meetings, there's (hopefully) time for a short break before teachers jump into their Teaching as Inquiry (TAI) meeting. Our teaching staff are broken into 3 groups, with each group focussing on a different strand from our strategic plan; Hauora, Learning and Cultural Responsiveness. (The community and environment strand is covered by all of the others.)
Learning Assistants / Teacher Aides
While they can't be at school working with children our LAs have also been working. They've been working through online training modules or reading up on how to support children with specific learning needs. They've also attended team meetings to discuss how best to cater for the needs of the children that they work with.
Whole staff meeting
The final meeting each day is a whole staff catchup from 2-3pm when we share what we've been doing each day and check in on staff wellbeing. During Thursday's meeting teachers commented on how good it was to have had this time to think deeply about what they are doing. They've been able to make progress towards our strategic goals and take some time to reflect on how to be the best they can be, for the benefit of all of our children.
One teacher commented on how tiring it was to be thinking so intensely, without the usual breaks that happen in the classroom!
Whatever announcements are made tomorrow, next week will be different again. Teachers will shift their focus back onto actually teaching, whether that's online or inside the classroom. The Ministry of Education have begun to give more information about how schools can provide 'hard packs' and provide devices to those that don't have any, so look out for further information from us about this too, should it be necessary.
Until then, take care, and remember to read.
If your children do nothing else during their time at home, make sure they are reading. This one thing, will ensure that they don't 'fall behind'.
*A Hauora Plan is a special plan that teachers write to guide them in supporting children who have particular short term behaviour, learning or wellbeing needs. Teachers work together (usually with input from parents also) to work out how they can help the child overcome their current challenges. Children are complicated little humans and working out what's going on and how best to provide support can take lots of time and effort.
**Teaching As Inquiry describes our formal practice of evaluating how well we are doing as teachers, and how much impact we have on learning. It involves working out what to do differently so that we have greater impact. It's an important part of a teacher's professional practice, and at Ridgway we do it in a very deliberate way to make sure we are doing the best job we possibly can.