Teaching from home success stories

Schools across Victoria are finding new and creative ways to teach students learning from home in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

In this edition, we look at some of the many outstanding examples of how schools are engaging their students in remote and flexible learning.

Every school is different, which makes a 'one size fits all' approach difficult but, as shown here, these differences also open opportunities for creative thinking and innovation.

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Yarra Primary School

For Yarra Primary principal Saraid Doherty, the first step in a successful transition to learning from home was acknowledging its difference from the norm. 

"This (learning from home) is not what school is, this is something else. So, it's all about recognising that and focusing on what you can do."

As well as using familiar online tools like Google Hangouts and SeeSaw, Yarra Primary has taken the extra step of giving their senior students leadership roles in delivering learning programs.

This has seen the school's sports captains helping deliver online Physical Education lessons, and the creation of a variety of 'virtual clubs', where students can socialise, share their passions and, most importantly, have fun. The school has also created a virtual art gallery and a 'Gratitude Wall' to keep students connected.

Students have widely embraced this approach, and it has also helped parents feel more informed and engaged, a crucial component in making learning from home a success.

With this parent-focus in mind, Ms Doherty recently ran an online parents' forum, which was widely attended and well received. She said the school's approach of keeping parents 'in the loop' means that everyone is calmer and feels better prepared, an enormous advantage for the students when it comes time to start learning.

Strathewen Primary School

While the school uses familiar modern resources like YouTube for teaching and learning remotely, Strathewen Primary has also employed 'old tech' to connect with students.

The school has created daily hardcopy packs for each of their 42 students, distributed every two weeks. Each pack contains 10 'sleeves' for each school day of the coming fortnight.

Each of the sleeves contains standard learning material for each class; they are also tailored to each student. This has the double benefit of better meeting the individual needs of the student while also providing a sense of wellbeing and continuity for parents.

Diane Phillips, Junior-Level Coordinator and teacher said in a smaller school like Strathewen this blended approach was contributing to a sense of wellbeing across the school community. "Most of the work is still written,' Ms Phillips said. 

"The students love a bit of security and familiarity, especially in these unusual circumstances… the parents do too."

Lowanna College

At Lowanna College near Moe, Principal Adam Hogan said communication was key.

Prior to Term 2 starting, Mr Hogan produced a 23-minute YouTube presentation to step parents and students through the learning from home process in detail. He also encourages staff to use WebEx where possible for 'face-to-face' interaction and sends information online with hardcopy handbooks as backup.

Mr Hogan said that while online platforms can raise issues of risk for schools, these can be overcome by ensuring teachers and staff fully understand the technology. Empowering teachers was therefore a key focus for the school prior to Term 2 commencing, not only for delivering lessons but also for classroom management.

"This way, if a student does something they shouldn't online, the teacher immediately knows what to do. I'd rather manage an individual student, rather than the alternative where we disadvantage hundreds of students who are doing the right thing,"

Lowanna College also allows students to use these online channels to create and submit their work, where appropriate, and for student feedback – another crucial component to learning from home success.

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Visit the Lowanna College learning from home website