As we find ourselves at the end of the first week in May, it comes with the realisation that we have also completed our first full month of the Home Learning Program; an achievement that should not be underestimated.
Students, parents/guardians, families, teachers, support staff and the entire Whitefriars community have together adapted exceptionally well to a new learning environment and working towards the delivery of the Home Learning Program. Whitefriars College acknowledges the considerable challenges faced across our community and within families during this time and thanks the parent/guardians who have provided us with feedback on their experience thus far.
Some of the main challenges shared by students and parents include maintaining motivation, a lack of social interaction and the amount of screen time that is now required in this new environment. This reiterates the importance of regular breaks during the day for fresh air, hydration and interaction with family for benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. The College is continuing to work hard to further improve communication in the classroom and to the school community. Working online has created a greater work load for teachers and students alike and with a little patience and time, this will undoubtedly improve.
Some aspects that have worked well for students as reported by students and parents have been the structure of scheduled lessons. The regular schedule has assisted the students with their daily routines at home and consistent expectations for learning. For some students, the Home Learning Program has promoted independence, patience, self-motivation and an increase in organisational skills, thereby fostering maturity. These ‘life’ or ‘soft’ will help to contribute to each boy’s development.
Zoom conferences have also created engagement in the lessons and some social interaction, albeit in isolation. Teachers are continuing to learn new skills and procedures in teaching in an online environment. Parents also commented on how Home Learning has given them a great insight into their son’s level of knowledge and study habits. Watching what their son is actually capable of doing without distraction – “independent learning has impressed us” or “we need to work with the College to work on these skills for my son”.
There are lessons for us all as we work through the Home Learning Program; what we can do better, what we can do differently and what works well. Undoubtedly it has been a difficult and a challenging time for all involved yet we must not lose sight of the rewards. In such a short space of time, I have already witnessed young men who are keen to do their best despite the hardships and have a new-found appreciation of the small things in life; an invaluable lesson that cannot be taught from any text book.