COVID19 India lockdown continues till April 14th, and the emotional, and economic contagion will have a much longer tail than the virus. But epidemiologists are also beginning to cautiously express hope. This recent video by Dr.Larry Brilliant was interesting; he outlines a 100 year history of pandemics and answers questions.
Yesterday the Neev community completed the first week of learning-from-home (LFH). We are grateful to so many parents who have shared encouraging messages for teachers and the leadership and most of all for supporting the LFH in many ways. These memories will stay with us forever. Thank you! Teachers have adapted literally overnight to virtual classrooms, virtual planning, recording videos, reimagined labs and explorations, how art and drama are taught, reading and sharing stories, and so much else. This incident has connected the global teaching community in ways that are making all of us stronger by sharing hyperdocs, reviewing platforms, and amplifying best practices.
Senior school classes: Synchronous classes were seamless as our students are digital natives using Google sites/drive and our LMS's (Managebac /Veracross). They use ZOOM better than many adults, using the platform for breakout sessions for small group collaborations, besides having fun with it. The discipline around asynchronous work has taken longer to settle, with some extensions on task times with few students. Teething trouble with timetable clashes and lessons extending beyond time are now sorted. We realise that attitudes of learners, both positive and negative, are the same across physical and digital classrooms. A student often late to school had to be woken up with a call by a classmate (!). More disciplined students have clearly adapted to self-led choices with LFH much better. We are working with students on expectations, while stepping up learning in the coming week/s with the introduction of new methodologies for reading groups, explorations, small group learning, and some new platforms. With the cancellation of the DP (Grade 12) exam, we are supporting completion of course work for submission to the IB for grading this week, and after that, we switch to a unique pre-collegiate programme driven by Indian history/mythology, current affairs, and individual interests based choices. We have been informed by the IB early this morning on the cancellation of the MYP eAssessment (Grade 10) exams as well. Teachers have been talking with students to handle their disappointment, and are now planning for them differently towards the completion of coursework and beyond; more information soon to the cohort.
PYP classes: Since this learning is asynchronous, it has taken teachers more effort because they can't just transfer existing classroom plans, as they need different thought altogether. This has stabilized - for the teachers. With the PYP, the greatest challenges is getting the work back from students, for feedback. Grade 5 students are accustomed to digital learning, and the Google suite, and therefore able to share their work with teachers easily. Again, more disciplined students are adapting (and learning) better. Grade 5 teachers will update parents where more encouragement is needed to meet timelines of submissions, and they started with some Synchronous ZOOM sessions today, which certainly made our teachers very happy. Grade 4 has been exploring online sharing of comments and work via google docs and in the coming week/s will move forward with Google classroom, so that they can submit their tasks independently too. Grades 1-3 are still figuring out solutions and this week will be implementing a new platform SEE-SAW with only Grade 1 students initially. SEE-SAW does need an iPad or similar device to be dedicated to each child at home. Grade 1 teachers have tried the platform with teacher and student logins and are confident that this will help children be independent in accessing and sharing their work, after initial support from parents. In homes where a device cannot be given to a child, parents will have to share work pieces. We will make the sharing needs minimal so that they take as little time as possible. We have heard concerns from some Grade 3 parents on the LFH workload, and are addressing this actively.
EY classes: All the learning has been asynchronous and our EY teachers have recorded videos embedded into easy to follow plans. Many parents have been emailing children's work pieces back, and these have been absolutely lovely to see, encouraging their teachers to dig deeper within themselves to deliver more. A really special one is the recording shared by a parent of their toddler "interacting' with a ZOOM video of her teachers. Another special one has been a toddler parent sending us the list of completed tasks for the day, including watering the plants with a 'pichkari'. Keep it coming, parents! We miss our learners :) Most of our K2 parents are emailing the children's workpieces back now. Teachers are now working towards more integrated learning, with favourite stories embedded with age-appropriate numeracy and literacy tasks. Starting with 2 per week initially, we will progress to 3 such experiences for every class next week, and progressively growing this. What better way for EY learning than from favourite stories!
Some reminders for EY and Grades 1-3 parents:-
COVID19 lockdowns have compelled us to face the new reality, which was already staring us in the face for the last decade if not longer; the digital revolution. In the last comparable pandemic, the Spanish flu, more than 100 years back,the digital world did not exist, and children just lost learning time around the world. With digital learning not accessible to many in India and the world, let's take a moment to be grateful for our opportunities. Give a thought as well to many children for whom these weeks/months will be a complete washout, further reducing their life opportunities sadly. COVID news is all around, and we are integrating it as best possible in online learning, but do discuss the longer history of pandemics, the current challenges and developments with your children, to build empathy and perspectives.
Keep learning, keep building positive values and attitudes, and stay safe.
Kavita Gupta Sabharwal
On behalf of the leadership at Neev Early Years and Neev Academy