VicSRC Student Executive Advisory Committee member shares how teachers supported students in 2021
It has been another rollercoaster year for Victorian students with remote learning becoming more a norm than a novelty.
Thankfully, our students have had the dedicated support of teachers and school staff across the state to help them through.
To thank teachers for their incredible support, VicSRC Student Executive Advisory Committee member Aakriti Malhotra shared her thoughts on behalf of Victorian students.
What were the top challenges students faced in 2021, and how did teachers help students overcome them?
Much like 2020, this year continued to shed light on issues that affect Victorian students. It presented many questions that no one knew the answers to, and many hurdles that were difficult to jump.
Among these challenges, a couple were harder to tackle than others, such as the effects of COVID-19 on senior secondary education and mental health.
However, if 2021 has taught us anything, it's the importance and benefits of personalised time and support from teachers.
Teachers have had a massive role in supporting students over the course of this very difficult year.
How did teachers keep students engaged and motivated during periods of remote learning?
Healthy and positive teacher-student relationships
This year has emphasised the importance of healthy and positive teacher-student relationships, and I think it has also fostered a sense of gratitude in students.
From anecdotal evidence and having discussions with my peers, it's clear that teachers have put in a lot of effort to engage, motivate and support students during both sudden and extended periods of remote learning.
Lunchtime stress-relief activities
Teachers at my school, for example, went above and beyond to organise numerous virtual lunchtime activities to engage students, such as kahoots, open mics, and student-led co-curriculars, which are student-led sessions of things like dancing, cooking and watching movies.
Not only did this provide us respite from academic stress, but it also facilitated a safe environment for us to reconnect with our peers.
But sometimes, it's also about the small things in life.
My maths teacher, for example, would regularly check-in with us and ensure we were prioritising our wellbeing over getting a maths exercise finished.
She would even ask me about my latest endeavours at VicSRC, something that I'm passionate about and something that she knew would boost my mood to talk about. Even relatively small things like these truly make a big difference.
Students and teachers have had to adjust to new ways of learning and teaching. Is there anything you'd encourage teachers to hold onto for onsite learning?
It's undeniable that COVID-19 has had detrimental effects on and outside of the education system. However, we should not lose sight of the silver linings, as I like to call them, of COVID-19.
Remote learning has forced the education system to think creatively and boldly. As a result, we have learnt new approaches that I believe should be embraced for the long term.
Learning at our own pace
Through remote learning, students have noted on many occasions the benefits of being able to work at our own pace. Being able to guide our own learning comfortably and take breaks, when necessary, encourages independence.
Another example of a practice that should continue is the use of centralised learning portals, such as Compass and Google Classroom. These portals support students to navigate their learning from one place.
It allows teachers to dispatch content and lesson plans all in a single place as well. This increases accessibility at both ends. It also supports student organisation and independence.
Catering to different learning styles
During online learning, students also said there was an increased awareness of different learning styles.
Teachers uploaded various resources and used numerous mediums to deliver and teach, such as audio files, videos, live classes, visual files and presentations and textbook questions to cater for all types of learners.
This is definitely something that would benefit more students on a larger scale, and all students want to see this continue.
What do students appreciate about teachers now that they might not have appreciated before?
We have come to appreciate the little things, like our teachers checking in regularly, making jokes to engage the class and boost our mood, and encouraging us to prioritise our mental health.
Any final message to teachers from students?
On behalf of all Victorian students, I would like to say a massive thank you to the department and all our teachers, who have gone above and beyond in these unprecedented and tough times to support students and our wellbeing.
I hope you have a restful and joyful break!
VicSRC is the peak body representing school-aged students in Victoria. It stands with, and for students, to elevate their voices to be heard. Its vision is for flexible, relevant education that includes all students in all decisions.
VicSRC is led by a Student Executive Advisory Committee of 15 school students elected from across Victoria and supported by a board of trustees, and a team of staff. VicSRC provides programs, events and advocacy to support the student voice at every level.
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