Lessons learnt

Teachers, Jessica Pinto and Bev Laussen from Genazzano FCJ College, describe the challenges and rewards of teaching in virtual learning environments⎮3 min read

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In Part One, Lorna Beegan spoke about how Genazzano FCJ College adjusted to the new normal created by the pandemic, while in Part Two and Three, students Prue Spencer and Lucie McLeod reflected on how school life has changed for them. To conclude the series, teachers, Jessica Pinto and Bev Laussen, describe the challenges and rewards of teaching in virtual learning environments in Part Four.


Positives

  • Isolation has been a buzz word that has been frequently used to describe the lockdown, however, despite being in isolation, for teachers, there has been an incredible sense of collegiality, giving a new meaning to the expression ‘we are all in this together’.
  • The current challenges require staff to develop alternate methods of delivering the curriculum, often in ways that weren’t necessarily part of our developed skill set.
  • Through the sharing of ideas and the countless Zoom meetings, staff were able to broaden their professional learning, embracing a multitude of IT based programs and tailoring them to specific needs.
  • In a regular classroom setting, teaching Science is a combination of concept development, supported by practical application – devising ways of providing both aspects of the work whilst continuing to foster cooperation and understanding, not only between staff but also between the teacher and students, was of paramount importance.
  • We need to be grateful to be living in an age where it is possible to create lesson videos and other curriculum materials to be used online and remain connected through virtual learning spaces which enable us to continue to deliver a high quality, engaging program.

Image provided with permission by Genazzano FCJ College.

Challenges

  • While there are many positives to take away from this experience, initially this was a daunting prospect and for many created a heightened sense of anxiety.
  • By creating virtual learning spaces, the visibility of our classroom resources has expanded to a wider audience within the school.
  • In a profession which is constantly reviewed, both formally and informally, in order to alleviate anxiety, it is essential there is good communication and support from all within the school community.
  • The difficulty of this format was being able to recognise and support students who may be struggling. It is often easy to identify students who need extension and support when they are in the classroom, however, students were able to “fly under the radar”, having a greater chance of being lost along the way.
  • What also posed a challenge is being able to predict how a student would respond to this new way of learning and maintain engagement.
  • Some students who struggle in a classroom setting were able to thrive and work independently without distraction while others required greater student – teacher connection.
  • This in turn has shown a need for further insight into the question of what it means to differentiate learning.

Moving forward

  • While certain aspects of this program will be left behind when we return to the classroom, we are proud and encouraged to take with us the many skills and insights learnt, to establish new teaching pedagogies.
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Genazzano Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences

Professional Learning, Programs and Research, Genazzano FCJ College (Gen Institute site)

Genazzano Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences is an initiative of Genazzano FCJ College to promote education and research about learning and brain sciences for improved learning and health.

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