What a whirlwind the last week has been!
Although this was not the start to Term 3 we were hoping for, and amidst much disappointment, I think that everyone has done an amazing job this week. We have successfully transitioned back online remarkably quickly and smoothly, thanks to the great efforts of our whole community; students, teachers, parents and support staff.
There is no doubt that we have gained an enormous amount of knowledge from our online experiences during Terms 1 and 2. With this in mind, we have been able to further adapt and modify our online programmes so that they better suit the needs of the students. I also feel that much of the early anxiety about using technology has dissipated, as for many of us, our confidence levels have significantly increased. Teachers, students and parents are now more familiar and comfortable with the structure of the day, the expectations of the teachers and the different technology, platforms and tools being used.
I believe that we have learnt even more about the importance of communicating with our students and ensuring that we connect with them from the very beginning. I have made videos for each of the different year levels and spoken at different assemblies this week to ensure that the students feel informed, connected and supported. The wellbeing of our students continues to be a priority for us.
Although we acknowledge that online learning is not the same as being at school, I believe we have made great strides with our programme and, given the circumstances which are well beyond our control, our students are in a better position than many other students around the world.
As we see a surge of cases in many different parts of the world, including Australia, and as schools world-wide return to online learning, we can be thankful for what we have. We are very lucky to have access to reliable technology, we have well-trained and experienced teachers, we have dedicated and committed students and we have incredibly involved and supportive parents.
Although we can always look at our own situation in isolation and bemoan our individual circumstance, from a global perspective, our students are far luckier than most. Although the way our students are learning has changed quite dramatically, there is still great learning happening. It may not be in the format or style which we as parents know, understand and expect education to be from our own school experiences, however, there is amazing learning taking place in very creative ways. In many regards, the students are gaining many new skills, strategies and life lessons which they would not have the opportunity to acquire in a traditional classroom setting.
I’m a firm believer that something good comes out of everything. If nothing else, we have all learnt that sometimes life throws us all a curve-ball that we didn’t see coming our way, that life doesn’t always go as we plan and that we need to be able to adapt, adjust and make the most of challenging situations. I think that what we are experiencing now is possibly only the beginning of future challenges which we will need to learn to navigate.
As yet, we are still unsure about how long we will be online, as the local cases in Hong Kong continue to rise. The Education Bureau (EDB) are still stating that classes will not resume on campus before 17 August due to the current situation in Hong Kong. Although we would love to be back at school, we also need to balance the health of our school community with our educational wishes. When we have more information to provide, we will share this with you. In the meantime, let’s attempt to focus on making online learning as successful as possible, as this is one of the few things over which we have control at the moment.
Over this term, we will use Dhanara to showcase some of the learning experiences enjoyed by the students, as a result of being online. There are some outstanding lessons and incredible interactions taking place in classrooms from Reception to Year 12, so we look forward to regularly highlighting samples of these activities for you.
Going online for an extended period of time undoubtedly has its challenges, however, it has led to some of the most innovative lessons and activities I have ever seen. Teachers are having to think and work in new ways and carefully consider how they can creatively pique and maintain the interest and motivation of the students online. This requires very different strategies to those of teaching in the classroom.
We hope that our community continues to stay well and enjoys the insight into online learning at AISHK.
Mark Hemphill | Head of School