By Benjamin Annett | CENMAC Advisory Teacher
School closures ‘lockdown’ affected our students and staff as it did people across the country. After the initial rush to ensure that our students were well prepared for home learning with access to their CENMAC devices as required, we continued with our usual cycle of assessments and reviews.
Traditionally, we hold our meetings in students’ schools. However, like people all over the country, we’ve recently moved many more of our meetings via the Internet. Although this initially presented some teething problems, over time, the meetings have begun to feel more natural. Indeed, we noticed some advantages. Some of our students became more communicative when meeting us in the comfort and security of their own homes. We had the opportunity to meet many more parents than we have in the past, which allowed us to get a more rounded and complete picture of our students’ needs and interests. Indeed, we became aware that many of our students appeared to take to the format easier than us oldies!
We spoke to many students who were at home over the period of school closures, and we realised that their experience was more nuanced than we expected.
Like many, we were very concerned about the impact of school closures on our students. Schools worked incredibly hard to educate at a distance, many relying on their technology to a greater extent than ever before. Digital learning platforms such as Google Classroom, RM Unify and Office 365 were utilised to facilitate home learning. School staff worked hard to engage and motivate their learners at home, setting work and liaising with families.
Like most adults, we assumed that students would struggle without close personal contact with peers and teaching staff. We spoke to many students who were at home over the period of school closures, and we realised that their experience was more nuanced than we expected. Indeed, some did struggle. Many missed the daily routine of school life. Some lacked a quiet space in which to study at home. Often, they missed their friends.
However, we found that most of our students were doing surprisingly well. Time and time again, we were deeply impressed by the degree of maturity demonstrated by our young people as they have begun to take an unprecedented level of responsibility for their own learning, taking advantage of all the digital tools available to them.
If there is one lesson that we have taken away from school closures, it is to never underestimate our young people. They have resilience, independence, resourcefulness to match those of any preceding generation. Given the right opportunities and resources they are capable of amazing things.
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