Reflecting on the Continuous Learning Plan Phase 2
Over the past two weeks, the school has engaged students and parents in a series of reflections on Phase 2 of the Continuous Learning Plan (CLP). The surveys asked both groups about some of the critical factors that have influenced student learning, well-being, and engagement. In particular, we were interested in gathering their perspectives on live lessons, assignments and learning activities, and communication. The feedback provided by the surveys has helped to develop our understanding of the community's experience of this phase of the CLP, with the findings guiding practical improvements to the model. A summary of the findings from the student and parent surveys is included below. We hope the information provided helps to support the development of a shared understanding of the CLP experience, as well as further growth of the strong partnership between home and school. While the summary necessarily focuses on the observation of general patterns and trends, we will continue to engage with the full breadth and diversity of the feedback provided. As a school, we are looking forward to students returning to our campuses; however, we need to remain mindful of the prospect of a return to learning from home, should the community context for our operations change. We are thankful for everyone who took the time to complete a survey, as the feedback will help ensure we are well-prepared for this possibility.
Over 220 parents completed a reflection on Phase 2 of the Continuous Learning Plan, with deep engagement from across all campuses and year levels. Parents were asked to provide open thoughts on the key areas under investigation – live lessons, assignments and learning activities, and communication. They were also asked to show how much they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about each key area, using a 5-point scale, ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. An overview of responses and a summary of findings from the parent survey is below.
Most parents who completed the survey felt that Zoom's live lessons worked well to support their child's learning. They also generally agreed that there was sufficient time in the structure of the day to allow students to take a break and get ready for their next lesson. The live lessons were seen as particularly crucial for supporting quality learning, the creation of opportunities for students to ask questions and clarify their understanding, and the provision of social connections with teachers and peers. Parents felt that student engagement with live lessons sometimes was limited by the variable quality of their internet connection. They also reported that children were often tired as a result of engaging with lessons via Zoom, with some students reluctant to interact with others on camera.
Some interesting findings concerning live lessons included the observation that levels of student engagement could vary across subject areas and the course of the week. That small group work in break-out rooms was commonly seen as useful for enhancing student learning. It is essential to note the wide variation in parents' perceptions of the student experience, with some children flourishing when learning from home. In contrast, others felt their child struggled with the approach.
Assignment and Learning Activities
Parents generally felt that students had enough time in the school day to complete the tasks set by their teachers and that the instructions provided for the set learning tasks were clear and easy to follow. Student learning was seen as well-supported by the use of multi-media and the provision of timely feedback by teachers. Some parents reported their child enjoyed the opportunities to work through the set work at their own pace and time. In terms of areas for improvement, parents noted that there was inconsistency in the instructions provided by some teachers and that some students had ongoing difficulty in navigating the school's learning platforms. It was also clear that high levels of parental support were required to support student learning in ECC and lower primary classes.
An interesting finding from the survey was the observation from some parents that remote learning presented a challenge for their child, in terms of finding an appropriate level of workload and difficulty. It is reassuring to note that many parents also felt that teachers and students worked well together to adjust or clarify the expectations for work, indicating some improvement in this area.
Most parents who completed the survey felt that their child's teachers provided clear and consistent information about live lessons and that they were easy to contact if they needed to ask a question or get additional help. Parents also generally felt that teachers were prompt to respond to questions and provided excellent academic and emotional support for students. In terms of challenges, parents observed that the links to live lessons didn't always work and that some teachers were slow in responding to emails. Some interesting findings from the survey included the observation that some students didn't always feel comfortable in reaching out to teachers for help, and that the smaller break-out sessions helped support student engagement in such contexts.
Over 340 students completed a reflection on Phase 2 of the Continuous Learning Plan, with broad engagement from across all campuses. On this occasion, only students in Year 5 – 12 participated in the survey, with a plan to engage younger students in reflecting on their experience of the CLP when they return to campus. Students were asked to provide open reflections on the key areas under investigation using a similar approach to the parent survey – live lessons, assignments and learning activities, and communication. They were also asked to show how much they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about each key area, using a 5-point scale, ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. An overview of responses and a summary of findings from the survey is provided below.
Most students felt that the live lessons held via Zoom worked well to support their learning. In particular, they thought that the live lessons helped them check their understanding of the content explored, share ideas, and collaborate with their peers. Some students shared that they were anxious about engaging with others via camera, with a preference for working independently offline. Students from across a range of year levels commented that they found lessons on Zoom to be tiring. However, it was interesting to note that some senior secondary students indicated a preference for longer live sessions.
Assignment and Learning Activities
The majority of students felt that completing the set learning activities worked well to develop their understanding and skills. They also agreed that the feedback provided by teachers helped improve their learning. In terms of areas for improvement, some students felt that they didn't have enough time in the day to complete tasks and that the instructions provided by teachers were not always clear. It was interesting to note that students felt that the clarity of instructions provided by teachers improved over time and that they appreciated the flexibility shown by teachers concerning expectations and due dates.
Most students who completed the survey felt that their teachers provided clear and consistent information about live lessons, and that they were easy to contact if they needed to ask a question or get additional help. Students also generally felt that they could easily communicate with other students when collaborating on a set task. Some students reported that the variable quality of their internet connection occasionally impacted on their access to and participation in lessons. It was also interesting to note that students appreciated the extra efforts made by teachers to connect with and support students online.
DR RICHARD OWENS
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation