Dedication to High Quality Learning
As the epidemic storm swept in, the campus life of students has also been affected. However, education in China did not stop, as the major schools are highly active in response to the "suspending classes without suspending learning" policy proposed by the government. Online teaching and learning is new to many teachers and students and has been full of unknown challenges. As one of the schools participating in e-learning, what has YWIES Shanghai Lingang done in this regard? Let's go behind the scenes to discover what has been happening at Yew Wah...
Behind the Scenes:
Yew Wah Colleagues Have Made Unremitting Efforts in Their Support of Our Students
In order to help each teacher in their teaching, and to help each student learn smoothly in class and reduce the burden on parents, what has the school done behind the scenes during this period? We interviewed Ms Maggie Zhou, Head of the Secondary School, and Ms Kathleen Zhang, Head of the Primary School, with many questions of interest to parents and students alike.
What did the school do to prepare students for learning during the epidemic situation?
Ms Kathleen Zhang:
First, the Foundation conducted online training for Yew Wah's Chinese and foreign teachers and shared their experience in online teaching. Every teacher in Yew Wah communicated and exchanged their learning experiences with each other to master the skills required, such as homework marking, in the beginning of our e-learning period. In order to achieve the best class presentation, some teachers constantly practised on the platforms to master the operation techniques in Teams and ClassIn. During this period, IT staff closely accompanied them on the side, co-operating with online debugging, arranging the classrooms, and assisting with online resource sharing. They dedicated themselves silently to this heavy and lengthy work. Everyone in Yew Wah was contributing so that the children could have a better educational experience.
Secondly, every department held online meetings every week. During the meetings, the teachers predicted the possible conflicts and worked out the planning measures. For example, students do not have a printer at home, so how could we solve the problem of not having a textbook? For parents who don’t understand much English, how can we get language support to assist our foreign teachers? How can we make use of materials available at home according to the current conditions? How should physical education teachers teach their students to exercise online? In addition, teachers gave timely feedback to the initial online interactions with students, worked together to solve the difficulties in the real situation, and discussed the improvement of their online teaching experience and specific learning tasks.
What kind of learning plan did the school make for online teaching during the epidemic? According to the characteristics of students of different ages, what are the different emphases and learning requirements of the teaching arrangement?
Ms Maggie Zhou:
The school has two stages of teaching objectives and focus.
In the first stage (when the spring festival holiday was extended), teachers and students gradually adapted to the new teaching environment and methods. They tried online teaching on the network platform, collected feedback and answered questions from the holiday homework. They combined the actual situation of the school, adjusting the supplementary materials for students to use. Teachers also worked on theme-based learning objectives that fit with the curriculum goals. In this way, they provided extra materials for the students and assigned interesting homework assignments, such as popular Chinese novels, to increase student engagement.
In the second stage (after the semester began), the online courses have personalised interaction on Teams and ClassIn, the platform chosen by the school, and included teaching, questions, answering questions, giving assignments, and review. Foreign teachers located all around the globe taught online from home. We had an online Patriot Day and flag raising ceremony, as well as mental health training and emotional management education for students. To ensure the timely implementation of online teaching, review sessions, activities and high quality learning, we encouraged students to take the initiative to participate actively and collaborate with teachers and their classmates.
During this period, we also paid special attention to the communication to parents, initiated questionnaires, listened to parents' ideas, and required each core teacher to communicate with parents in a timely fashion and make timely adjustments. Online activities and competitions will continue in the future, such as the first Yew Chung Yew Wah Young Musicians Online Competition. To help students solve university application problems online, Upper Secondary students have been offered college guidance UGO classes, and one-on-one communication, and there is a parent hotline to support parents.
What does the school expect the children to achieve during this period?
Ms Kathleen Zhang:
We hope that students in Primary School can develop independent learning abilities, feel excited about the new form of learning, and want to communicate with classmates and teachers actively. We want them to develop technology skills, research ability, the application of various software, to keep a positive attitude in class, and gradually adapt to the mode of e-learning. We know they will develop self-management and time management skills, not be afraid to accept new things, know how to manage their sleep schedule, and protect their health, including how to rest their eyes.
Ms Maggie Zhou:
Students have developed the skills to use software technology on different platforms. They have learnt different methods of submitting assignments, such as the production of films, posters, and written assignments. They learnt to have a reasonable schedule of study, rest, sports and family life. They have improved their self-discipline and autonomy, such as learning to submit assignments before the deadline, completing online notes in time, asking questions, and interacting with others online. Most importantly, they have developed their ability to think deeply and never give up in the face of adversity.
In terms of the supervision and management of teachers' online teaching, what measures or guidance methods have been implemented to ensure the smooth development of online teaching?
Ms Maggie Zhou:
Every week, we make slight adjustments according to teachers' feedback and plans, so as to formulate the plan of the next stage of work, as well as guide our staff as they improve their teaching plans. The purpose of online teaching is for students to have a good interest in and focus on online learning, and to prove that they have the ability to transform what they learn and make real learning happen.
What are the difficulties encountered in the process of using the online teaching platform? How did we solve it?
Ms Kathleen Zhang:
Two of our common problems are the network reliability and the time zone differences. In order to ensure the smooth operation of the courses, our IT team continued to provide online service to our teachers all day long. They prepared before the teachers. Once, one of our English teachers lost their Internet connection due to the local weather, and the IT staff contacted the relative backup teacher immediately and solved the problem within five minutes. Our teaching team was spread around the world, some in the UK or US, for example. And they had 8 to 13 hours of a time zone difference. Sometimes teachers needed to start teaching before 5 a.m. At the same time, the management team sometimes had meetings later than 11 p.m. Everyone was working more than 12 hours a day to overcome the time zone difference, and our IT staff fought this war with us all the time.