Sunday, 12 July 2020

COVID -19 (Part 3) Responding to Feedback and Rising to the Challenge of the Second Wave

On July 8, a second phase of Stage 3 lockdown restrictions were implemented for 6 weeks in Melbourne. School holidays due to finish on July 13 were extended for our primary school students until July 20. During this time, all staff were expected to return to school for five student free days to review teaching plans and prepare for the potential of remote learning for Term 3.

On July 10, Victoria recorded 288 coronavirus cases, its highest number of cases to date.

Just as the daily coronavirus cases have risen, the staff of St Pat's will rise to the challenge and support our students and community to flourish during this second wave of coronavirus.

Time for Action
The day after the new restrictions were announced, I met with two of my school leaders at school for several hours to begin to draft plans for our student free week. We had to prepare for the potential of remote learning (as I write this post on the eve of our return to school, the Victorian premier has confirmed home learning will commence from July 20). This time, we have the opportunity to learn through our experiences during Term 2 and make positive changes based on feedback from staff, students and parents. Two days later, on the last day of the school holidays, we met again for several hours to ensure that we were fully prepared for the student free week.

"We value rich, regular and quality feedback.." St Pat's Shared Vision
Teachers have a reputation for actively seeking feedback on their practices and making adjustments for continual improvement.

Whilst running up a sharp incline on the COVID treadmill (see previous post) we responded to feedback, adapted and improved our home learning practices last term. This time we have the benefit of learning from our experiences and making the most of five student free days to refine and improve our practices further.

If any of our students or parents expected our teachers to automatically follow the Term 2 pattern of remote learning practices, then they will be pleasantly surprised. Naturally, some aspects will remain the same but other elements will be adjusted so that we can offer a better programme.

Why? Because that's exactly what expert teachers do with their teaching all the time.

"We identify needs ... and build professional capacity and capability... to ensure our students will be engaged and motivated." (St Pat's Shared Vision).
Based on the feedback from students and parents (see below), some of the adjustments will include a review of:
  • the frequency of small group and whole group Zoom meetings and teacher interactions
  • the modelling of explicit teaching concepts and strategies
  • the presentation of the learning template and access on the Community Learning Site
  • the inclusion of extra wellbeing opportunities 
  • the focus on our Catholic identity and opportunities for social justice connections
  • the gathering of assessment data to inform further teaching. 
Ultimately, we wish to develop guidelines to ensure consistent home learning practices for all year levels across the school. The improvements we make will be utilised for both offsite and onsite learning practices going forward.

Student Feedback
Fortunately, at the end of Term 2, I met with some of our students to capture their responses to the pros and cons of Home Learning.
SRC # 7 End of Term 2 Feedback
In this video, the #stpatsmbna SRC reps share their views on the pros and cons of Home Learning and the best part about being back at school.

Parent Feedback. 
Do you wish to offer any further feedback ? 
During the Term 2 home learning phase, we continually invited parents to share their feedback via telephone conversations and email. Here is some of the feedback. If parents wish to offer further feedback, please email

Just wanted to send a note to say thank you for the time you take to send ...a recorded message on Seesaw for his work completed. It’s really appreciated during these times which I’m sure you are extra busy (Year 3 parent).
I'm sure you are both super busy today preparing for a return to onsite learning but I just wanted to send you both a quick email to say thank you for all your hard work over the last month and a half.
The take home packs you prepared were so organised and well thought out, it certainly made for a more efficient and smoother at home learning experience for all involved. The class zooms were a real highlight -the boys looked forward to seeing you and their friends each morning .
We always talk about what a fab choice we made in selecting St Pats as our school and our experience over the last few weeks has only served to reinforce that! (Year 1 parent)

I just wanted to drop a quick email so say a huge thank you for all the support, encouragement and patience given to the students (and parents!) whilst learning from home. The continued all round support and guidance especially from the teachers has been outstanding, a credit to their teaching skills (Year 3, Year 6 parent)

I was just watching the video from the SRC reps. They did a great job. Well done.
We have been very impressed with .. during these challenging times. I've been listening into the zoom calls and ... been brilliant. Very pleased overall with the home learning. For two full time workers it's actually worked better than we expected. (Year 1 parent)

Thanks for your email and reaching out. This weeks (W2) more structured home-learning has been working well for ... He’s definitely found it more challenging and there is more work for him to complete. A big improvement from last week. I think next weeks detailed planner will also work well for him. Is it possible to email the planners out when they become available? We don’t have Google chrome so it’s not easy to print out and format from the Home Learning site (Year 6 parent).

Given the stage 3 restrictions announced today I was hoping you could give some thought to having the teachers at St Pats available more often throughout the school day in Term 3 in a more structured way ( Year 2, Year 6 parent)

I would hope to see more interaction throughout the day from the teachers. A morning check in to set up the day is great, but I know that further check-ins, group learning or email contact with required response in a limited time frame would be extremely beneficial... perhaps a solution to this problem is for the teachers to be checking in more frequently with the students. Our teachers are excellent, dedicated teachers and our children benefit from the interaction with them. (Year 4, Year 6 parent)

What will the staff do during the 5 student free days ?
During the week, the staff will reflect and respond to feedback (see above), review and redesign learning plans, film instructional teaching videos, prepare resource packs, arrange the distribution of resources and readjust teaching plans to prepare for the potential of remote learning. We will also prepare to loan chrome book devices if required, issue the expression of interest forms for onsite learning for families of essential workers and vulnerable children.

Amidst all of this, we will continue to hold tight to our  St Pat's Core Values, in particular, these two:

We are all in this together and will continue to work to meet the needs of each of our students to provide the best opportunity for everyone to improve both with their learning and with their wellbeing during these challenging times. We understand that each and every one of our families has their own unique set of challenges and we will do our utmost to support all of you as we rise to the challenge of this second wave.

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