The closure of the school campus, followed by the introduction of online teaching, and then the closure of the Chinese borders were challenges that I did not expect, especially not in my first year at ISB. It was a difficult time, I had not taught online before, and if I am honest I didn’t ever imagine becoming an online teacher. It’s the energy of the classroom, the rapid back and forth of ideas between students and their teacher, the relative ease of being able to spot students who are struggling in a physical rather than a virtual classroom. Never-the-less, students still required an education and all the SEL support that I could muster – even from afar.
I think back to what I was able to do last semester, and what I would have done differently had I been fortunate enough to have more time to prepare or the experience of knowing what would work and what wouldn’t! There were some decisions that I made which I think were right at the time – I made a decision to have a lot of one to one zoom sessions with my students, partly in order to provide the best support I could for my IB students individual students who were (at least in the early stages of online teaching) preparing for their IB exams, and because it seemed to help with my students various individual history (or in the case of 10th Graders Social Studies) projects. Talking to students one to one did seem to help a lot of them with their projects, and it did seem to mean that I was able to engage better with students social and emotional needs – in some cases perhaps better than I had done before, I would go as far to say that many students were quite open about how they were doing when in a one to one environment, and when I felt this was warranted I was able to change activities and/or speak to counsellors. When I think of the quality of content that I provided to students I feel that it was much the same as that which I had provided during campus based teaching – being quite an enthusiastic user of DX from my very first days at ISB. Where I was undoubtedly lacking was in the quality of my online activities for my students – one thing that I am determined to work on if we return to an online only environment again! On balance, I think I did well last time, but I know (as I am sure some of my astute students also know) where I can improve!
If I can set myself goals for online teaching it is to ensure that I continue to work hard on Care, which remains, during this really difficult time for our students the most important of the 5Cs and hopefully one that I can make the most significant difference with.
Best of luck to everyone for the start of the new year!