It’s day 6 of Distance Learning and we are in a new and exciting teaching environment. The figurative dust has settled around us, as the school is being deep cleaned, and the dulcet sounds of teacher’s wandering the empty halls and reading stories in empty classrooms has started to take its toll. Covid-19 is truly part of our lives now. So, for those of us who have decided to dedicate our lives to working closely with the next generation; how are we coping and what are we doing?
As an early year’s teacher (Pre-KG) I’m finding this particularly hard, and I’m sure my colleagues across the school feel the same regardless of their grade group. However, I have no shame in saying that working with the youngest children has a distinct reign I feel proud of, a uniqueness and specialism that is truly my calling. Others, I know, find this part of the school a minefield of tiny hands, loud voices and endless ‘play’. Now, the echoes of our tiny handed learners reverberate throughout the halls and us early years shepherds are left without our bonny flock.
So, how are we teaching the littlest of our learners? The little bouncy 3 and 4 year olds who have only been walking on this Earth for 30 (ish) months? Who, development theory tells us, have securely attached to us and see us as one of their main caregivers? We all know children thrive in well-established routines that allow them to be with those they are closest to. So, how is it possible to provide that closeness and link across an E-learning platform? Well, here’s how we’re attempting to keep that bond with our youngest students here at The Hamilton International School.
My morning routine starts with me taking a selfie style video outside in our school’s garden area and uploading it to our E-learning platform, Class Dojo. The garden is a favourite spot for many of my children so being in this space will hopefully bring them memories of fun and joy. In the video, I’m smiling brightly and highlight the theme of the day or setting a mini challenge for my class.
I set out the daily learning in a PowerPoint style presentation. When opened on an iPad or laptop, this can be interactive and children can use a stylus to draw or complete work. However, I don’t tend to submit work that needs to put on paper. I’ve been very conscious of my little learners and do not want to ask them to do things at home purely for convenience, e.g. a worksheet. At school, I follow their individual interests and do not provide worksheets. I focus on skill development, as well as topic-based learning through the IEYC, to allow for a balance of child-led and adult-facilitated learning. So, my distance learning activities are things like setting the table for dinner and making playdough – I even made my own hyper lapse video of me making playdough!
We’re encouraging parents to continue to document their child’s learning through our usual online learning journey, Tapestry. When parents upload photos or videos, staff can edit them to tag the learning according to the curriculum. This helps us plan for a more personalised distance learning curriculum as well as provide individual feedback and next steps per child, which is what we would be doing in class. My feedback to the parents is sent via Tapestry or ClassDojo, whichever is easiest for the parents.
I also try and touch base with parents directly via Class Dojo and Tapestry, asking them to give honest feedback on the work set. Distance learning will only work if we are in this together, and their support is imperative in supporting their young children to learn. Afterall, parents are the first teachers.
What is evident from this new world of distance learning is the effort parents are putting into supporting their children and the value and respect they have for us as teachers. As a community, we are thriving and in the face of this adversity, we cannot deny history is being made in schools across the world with Covid-19. This year, this class, these lessons will all be ones we won’t forget.
I miss you Pre-KG, stay safe and WASH YOUR HANDS!