When school comes home - Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children

When school comes home

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Students from Thomas Pattison School over online group session

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have disrupted school for some, but that hasn’t stopped the students at RIDBC Garfield Barwick School (GBS) and RIDBC Thomas Pattison School (TPS) from making the most of every day.

With smiles on their faces and wearing their school uniform proudly the students of GBS and TPS are present for roll call. That roll call may be using videoconferencing technology and the classroom may be their home, but as we are about to learn, it just doesn’t matter.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for families, and as most are keeping their children home where possible, the lessons have moved online. Videoconferencing technology allows the GBS and TPS students to see their teachers, which is essential as the students have hearing loss, and the latter use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to communicate.

Despite this, the teaching teams are beaming with more positivity than ever (if that is even possible!) and showing all that learning from home can be fun!

Learning is everywhere you look

Library session over Zoom School from home

One part of online learning sees the teachers model an activity whilst the students explore it – writing, speaking, sharing and drawing. With more time being spent in the family home the teaching teams are embracing the home environment and incorporating it into daily lessons.

Teacher Aide Abby teaches her students addition using the cutlery drawer which, along with developing some mathematics skills, could be that perfect segue to setting the dinner table or emptying the dishwasher.

Elsewhere, the year 1/2 class routine is to discuss the date, weekday and the weather – a perfect holiday activity for families to continue.

The lesson – learning is everywhere!

School from home School from home

Teacher tips for learning from home

The RIDBC teaching teams are advocates for understanding that learning from home is going to look different to learning in the classroom. That thought is echoed by year 1/2 teacher Lizi who said, “There is a time for directed learning, but that learning will look different for every child, in every home.”

Teacher Lizi shares words of wisdom for parents – “Remember to take the time to play, to create, to be active, to get outside when you can. Follow your child’s interests, show them some of yours. Teach your child to entertain themselves whilst you work. Spend some time in front of a screen, and some time without. Eat some junk food, prepare lots of healthy snacks. Teach your child that life is about balance.”

Year 3/4 teacher Julia suggests asking and exploring your child’s feelings, particularly during uncertain and challenging times. “Our class performed a mental health/wellbeing check-in today to see how they’re feeling after a week at home. I was so impressed with their responses particularly how honest they were.”

For year 5/6 teacher Laisarn, the students are offered choice – “I encourage to be active while learning from home. The students can choose between doing daily fitness or yoga”.

The lesson – find the harmony between living and learning.

School from home School from home

The family is key

These uncertain times have brought with it many challenges and some difficult times. And while the challenges may vary from family to family, the teaching team understand it isn’t easy.

Teacher Lizi said “We have been very impressed and very appreciative of the way that our families have embraced this new challenge.” Her message to parents is clear.

“It’s okay to not be perfect, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Irrespective of how you’re going, you are doing an amazing job.”

The lesson – if you need help, ask your teacher.

RIDBC has the best teachers

We may be biased but offer no apology. Teachers across all of our schools have done a fantastic job in transitioning the classroom to an online environment. The result is a combination of lessons delivered in real-time using videoconferencing, individual school packs sent to homes, and the creation of home activities linked to the curriculum with pre-recorded instructions.

Kindergarten teacher Joyce says the flexibility of both families and teachers is the key to success “We need to be flexible in how we are teaching and aligning with the family context.”

“I am confident that we are delivering quality teaching. It just looks a little different for now!”

And if feedback is anything to go by, our families are happy.

“Thank you again for all the work that the whole RIDBC team are doing to ensure that students’ education stays on track as much as possible under the circumstances,” said one parent.

The lesson – we are committed to you and your family.

School from home School from home

And while some things change, others remain the same – the teaching teams’ highlight is still seeing and hearing the students, albeit on the screen.

And although no one knows for sure how long our students will be learning remotely, one certainty is the high level of commitment and dedication shown by students and teachers alike will make the most of every day!

Story in Auslan session 

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