Amid the second school closure, it is worth talking about how Shrewsbury teachers adapt their instruction methods to suit an online environment. The need to pivot away from practices associated face-to-face classes is an obvious necessity, but with what is this replaced? How do teachers ensure students are getting the necessary provision according to the curriculum? The following article asks four Senior School teachers, across a range of subjects, what have they changed in their lessons and their advice on how to cope with the change imposed.
Ms Iris El Abras - English Teacher
My view is that live content is still essential, so I try to get out in front of the students to answer questions and bounce ideas off them. I think it is best to have that face-to-face contact, even if it is through a computer. Nothing beats in-person teaching, especially for a subject like English where context is essential, and back-and-forth conversation is critical to understanding. However, with that not possible, I implore teachers to try and be visible in a 'live' format as often as your schedule allows. Adjust your timings and give short and sharp instruction, so there is less room for interpretation. Also, record your lessons - this is something I may do post-lockdown anyway, as it adds an element of revision, personally and for students. Adaptation is vital at the moment!
Mr Chris Redman - Head of Mathematics
My most significant piece of advice and something I remind myself regularly is to 'remove the frilly stuff'. I try my best to focus on the key learning objectives and deliver them in bite-sized pieces with the most precise instruction possible. As we are not face-to-face, I cannot engage with students on a more personal level 'in the moment'. Therefore, I must be the one to engage more during a lesson. Students can sit back during an online lesson and say nothing for 45 mins. I will call on students to give me responses more regularly and discuss from there. The truth is, you cannot be perfect from day one, and all of us are trying our best. Keep notes, review your classes and ask teachers from different sections what they do - every bit helps!
Ms Cat Garnett - Head of Learning for Life
Our department has been very productive in switching the curriculum around to better comports with online learning. Some subjects just do not fit unless you are in a classroom environment as there is too much room for conjecture and confusion. We are really proud of our ability to adapt and adjust from subjects such as puberty, which can entail some robust discussion, to more research-based topics, such as World religions. Given our subject matter, we also focus on student wellbeing, ensuring that students cope well with school closure and have their network shut down. For the most part, students are doing well, and we are always here to check on them if something should arise.
James Walton - Chemistry Teacher
Chemistry can be a difficult subject to teach in an online capacity. We ordinarily rely heavily on practical applications to get across learning objectives, and many of the substances we use are rarely found in the home! However, we are making the best use of technology. We have been able to demonstrate some experiments, some of which we have asked certain year groups to perform for us using everyday materials. I find that my students do not enjoy staring at the computer for long periods and some may start to disengage towards the end of a live lesson or a follow-up class. For this reason, I give shorter classes that are concise and encourage good quality feedback from the students themselves. They are under considerable pressure too. Many are unsure whether they will sit exams or not, which can cause stress, so I will make lessons as fun as possible to alleviate the worry