Two different teachers in Hong Kong have been out of school for 5-weeks with 6 more to go. This was their reflection on what has worked (for them as teachers and their kids at home) and what they have learned from remote teaching.
- REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Partnering with parents at home and remembering that there is less structure at home. The lessons have to be modified and realistic expectations have to be set for students to complete their work. Even for my elementary school kids some teachers are assigning work for 2 core subjects a day and alternating those classes every other day. It’s helped with the workload and our sanity at home.
- ROUTINE: Trying my best to maintain the most routine for my students as possible. Having online meetings to touch base and set the expectation for the class assignments. At home, we are letting the kids sleep in a little longer but our day starts at 8am. We tackle the lessons for that day in a structured time table and our kids are able to self regulate their assignments and times.
- CLEAR COMMUNICATION: Using a few online platforms to communicate, post, and collect assignments. Our school has used PowerSchool Learning as our main communication platform and LMS. - If there are different platforms used by different teachers the teachers have a central location where all those weekly assignments and learning platform links have been posted. It can get confusing for parents at home when different people are using various platforms (LMS - PowerLearning, Google Classroom, or Seesaw).
- MEANINGFUL CONTACT WITH STUDENTS - Online Web Sessions (Using Google Meet or Zoom) - Google Meet is part of the Google Suite for organizations and Zoom is a free webcasting site offering free 40 minute sessions and up to 100 participants per session. I meet with my students once a week to touch base with assignments and answer questions about their learning.
Also, we have to adapt the blended learning model and use screencast videos for demonstrations and flipped classroom instruction. For middle school and upper elementary I’ve seen teachers use programs like Socrative to administer assessments. And I’ve also seen some classes participate in quizlets as a class online. There are others who use Padlet as a virtual board to collect input from students. And for those teachers who use PowerPoint slides I’ve seen teacher-paced slides using a program called EdPuzzle.“
This from another teacher in HK:
“My name is Rachel and I have been teaching pre-school to kindergarten for most of my teaching career. This year, I started to teach 2nd grade. My daughter is 3 years old and she attends a pre-school.
I can share more from the early childhood - lower elementary perspective.
Currently for my grade 2 students, we have been making small adjustments each week as we take surveys from parents and evaluate what has been working and what hasn't (it's been about 5 weeks and we still have 6 more weeks until school is supposed to resume). We try to not change things too drastically as it's already been hard for teachers and parents to learn new online platforms.
As homeroom teachers, we assign 4 core subjects each day (Reading/Writing/Math/Science or Social Studies or Health or Christian Ethics). Parents preferred teachers teaching the lessons rather than just given PDF files or PPT slides. So we post voice recorded lessons over PPT along with a simple lesson plan and an activity. Internally within my team (there are 7 teachers in grade 2), we each took a subject to plan lessons and record because it would have been way too much for each teacher to plan and record 4 lessons every day. So that has been very doable for the teachers in terms of workload.
We also hold one live session with our students per week using Zoom for 30 minutes. This is just to provide an avenue for our students to interact with one another and with the teacher. I have kids do show & tell or we share a devotion and pray together. We also do phone conferences once a week on one-on-one basis. This is to check up on each student and their progress and give feedback. We talk on the phone for 15 minutes per student. We decided to do phone conferences over video conferences to honor parents' request for less screen time.
Our specialist teachers also post video lessons and hold Zoom live session once a week (art, music, Chinese, PE). The workload overall is quite a lot for the students but most of our students have been able to keep up with the work. But there are some students who don't submit the work as much because they don't get enough support from their working parents, which is also understandable. With this situation, our leadership is discussing about what to do with assessment as we have a report card scheduled to go out by the end of school suspension.
In terms of submission of work, we use Class Dojo. We have been using this during school, so students and parents were already familiar with it. There is a special feature where they can submit their work via photo/video on their e-portfolio. So each day students would take a picture of their work and upload on their portfolio. Then teachers can check and comment any feedback on their portfolio.
Besides Zoom and ClassDojo, our school also uses PowerSchool as well as Schoolsbuddy (email) to communicate with the parents. The lessons are uploaded on Power School where parents can access.
I'll comment briefly on what my daughter's preschool is doing. They use Google Classroom and upload short (less than 5 min) videos of teachers teaching various lessons daily. They upload about 4 videos each day (core lesson like circle time, music and movement, art project, Chinese - foreign language). Obviously, parents need to sit with them and motivate them to follow the lesson. It's a lot of work for the parents as they have to pretty much follow the lesson with the kids and prepare art project materials...etc. My daughter is only interested in watching her own teacher's video and not the others. ;-) The teachers at her school also take turns uploading the video as it would be too much for each teacher to upload videos everyday. Since I'm a teacher, I just do my own lessons with her at home and we also try to have some structure for her, but it's not easy for a young one. I have been hearing how tough it is for teachers with young kids at home trying to do work.
Lastly, we do go out with our masks on. Some families keep their kids in the house but after about 5 weeks of this, more people are coming out to get some fresh air. We just avoid crowded areas and public transportation as much as possible. So far, Hong Kong has done a good job containing the virus in such a crowded city.”