The tears, fears and cheers of students back at school

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Tears, fears and cheers have been experienced by students and parents alike during the past eight weeks and while it’s been a challenging time for many, Sydney Catholic School principals say their returning school community is much stronger because of it.

From Zoom meetings involving 180 students to viral videos receiving more than 115,000 views, staff have become creative in order to stay connected.

Keeping it clean, the kindergarten class of Our Lady Star of the Sea Primary School, Miranda pass through a hand sanitising station. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

From kindergarten to Year 12, many schools now plan on introducing to the classroom some of the new technologies discovered during remote learning.

Miranda’s Our Lady Star of the Sea Primary School hit the headlines with its dance videos made by staff to help keep students engaged in a fun and creative way.

It’s Move It video, aimed at getting pupils active while in lockdown, went viral after being viewed by more than 115,000 people and opened their eyes to new ways of reaching their school community.

Principal Rosemary Andre said they had “developed skills and ideas during the pandemic that they never would have thought of if the lockdown didn’t happen”.

She said after initially feeling “quite overwhelmed”, they managed to change their mode of learning to an online platform in just 24 hours and the results have been incredible.

“Since the students have returned, we have found they are more independent and their technology skills have grown immensely”

“Since the students have returned, we have found they are more independent and their technology skills have grown immensely,” she said.

“They seem to have developed a higher level of independence and problem solving as they’ve had to deal with obstacles in their learning without having their teachers physically by their side.

Hands up if you’re happy school’s back! The kids at Our Lady Star of the Sea at Miranda happy to be back in the classroom. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok.

 

“Particularly we have seen a change in our kindy and Year 1 classes, we thought with them being so little it would be like starting again but they have just slipped straight back in and performed beautifully.

“There have been funny stories as well, one of our Year 3 students said they had missed school because their mum was taking the teacher thing too seriously and even made her call her “Mrs”.

“While another student said she missed having a neat and organised work space/classroom so she began writing tickets/fines to family members who were leaving things lying around.

“Reflecting  on the experience all I can say is as teachers we can now be more flexible and creative in the way we deliver lessons going forward. There are so many amazing programs we utilised during remote learning which we can now implement in the classroom.”

Auburn’s Trinity Catholic College also faced its share of challenges particularly with the pressures of the Year 12’s quickly heading towards the HSC, however they also implemented new strategies for their senior students.

COVID safe learning looks a little different for the year 12’s at Trinity Catholic College in Auburn. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Principal Daniel Delmage said socialisation was one of the key issues it needed to address and introduced Zoom catch ups for all 180 students.

He said he was very proud of the way his school fine-tuned its teaching and learning program so that they were ready for a quick transition to a fully embedded remote learning experience

“We quickly realised that the students were missing their school, their friends and their teachers so knew we had to find ways of ensuring they were all connected,” he said.

“We hosted Zoom meetings with all 180 Year 12 students, we contacted parents regularly to check in on their wellbeing and progress while sharing messages of encouragement on Facebook and ensuring that every absence from a lesson was accounted for on a daily basis, period by period.

“When our Year 12’s returned to face-to-face classes we adopted a blended learning approach using google classroom as our learning platform and face to face teaching.”

“When our Year 12’s returned to face-to-face classes we adopted a blended learning approach using google classroom as our learning platform and face to face teaching.

“We believe that our culture of excellence, high expectations, and the outstanding commitment of our teachers, parents and students has placed Year 12 in a very favourable position as we move towards the HSC.”