Glenalmond's online teaching programme, Coll@Home, is delivering strongly thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of everyone involved, explains Mrs Davey, our Subwarden (Academic).
With 96% pupil attendance and 116 pupils receiving academic stars for the high quality of their work and overwhelmingly positive feedback, Coll@Home is back in business.
The feedback from the teacher and pupil surveys we undertook at the end of our first week back in the online classroom included comments such as "Smooth’, ‘Just like having lessons in the classroom’ and ‘I think the pupils have been brilliant’.
At the start of term, Ofsted published their thoughts on what worked well in remote education and it was encouraging to see that Glenalmond had been quick to identify and implement many of the trends they had picked up.
This is not by chance - one of the key tasks we set ourselves as teachers on our January INSET (in-service training) Day was to reflect on what had made Coll@Home such a success last year and, more importantly, how do we build on that in 2021?
What is clear is that Coll@Home works because we set ourselves a clear goal - that, whatever our subject, we will again finish the term in the same place in the curriculum as we would, had we all been on site. Remote learning is just another way of delivering the curriculum, so that pupils know more and remember more.
Last week went very smoothly, in part because we knew we had a template that worked and had dedicated time to make sure we were ready for 0830 on January 11th. One of the best parts of our 8th January INSET Day was when we all got together as a teaching staff body (50 faces on camera!) and shared our ideas and experiences.
It was incredibly uplifting but also gold dust in terms of top tips and practical ideas. Ideas ranged from the simple but effective (ie the homemade whiteboard) to break out rooms and speech to text marking extensions to Google Classroom. Once again, there was that buzz of excitement and community that has marked our remote learning.
What have we had to drop for online teaching? Nothing! However, we are not complacent and not a day goes by without us interrogating our provision - what we think is working and what we might be able to improve. That is the essence of good teaching.
One lesson that has come out of the world experience of online learning is the importance of face-to-face contact - we need to see each other on camera. This approach ensures pupils and staff are fully engaged in lessons and, with a week of online learning under our belts, the benefits of this approach are shining through.
The stars and merits awarded in the past week reflect this in so many ways. Teachers have praised our Memrise champions in Languages, the Second Form historians showing brilliant critical thinking in their source analysis questions, the professionalism of the group work team in Technology or even the igloo builders in Mr Jeffers' Maths class.
Out of my window I can see the beautiful buildings of the Chapel and Front Quad, still covered in snow. Normally at this time, I would be able to see pupils and staff moving about on their way to lessons, talking and laughing. It still seems strange to look out on such a peaceful scene but, of course, the talking and laughing is still going on… I just can’t see it out of my window.
Coll@Home means the Glenalmond Community is still vibrant, still learning together and still having fun, as it always has been.
Mrs Jenny Davey