Bay of Plenty students may be back in their classrooms – but, given the unpredictability of our current climate, that doesn't necessarily mean we've seen the end of lockdown learning.
Fortunately, ACG Tauranga’s online learning programme supports students and enables them to thrive regardless of alert levels. And as Year 8 twins Elizabeth and Charlotte Vernon recently discovered, transitioning between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ classroom is getting easier and easier.
"This lockdown I coped much better than last time," says Elizabeth. "I now know how to work the Microsoft Teams programme and navigate my way around MyACG [ACG Schools' web portal]. Adapting to the online environment wasn't difficult because we'd already done it last year. In fact, the transition was actually very smooth.
"Interactive classes, structured timetables and plenty of teacher support helped Elizabeth stay engaged and connected throughout Alert Levels 3 and 4.
“Other than art and PE, the coursework didn’t really change from what we were doing at school. We were able to do all classes online, and the teachers were available to help us with any questions. Some teachers were always present in the virtual classroom, while others would send us off to work individually or in small groups in break out rooms. I think that was a really good balance, and the teachers were always contactable for support.
“Classes were very interactive. The teachers explained our tasks well, talked us through them, and we were able to ask questions via text and virtually during our video calls. I think that interaction between pupils and teachers is vital.”
Sister Charlotte is quick to agree, adding, “It’s really important for the teachers to interact online with the students as they’re making sure we all know and understand what’s being taught. Without this interaction, I’d get bored quickly and probably zone out.
“I’ve found lockdown much better this time too, and feel we can learn quite well with ACG’s remote learning programme. I definitely missed my friends and the face-to-face connections, though.”
During these unprecedented times, challenges are inevitable, and the twins have felt frustrated by poor Wi-Fi connections and having to sit in one place all day.
“Sitting in my room studying all day and then having to be back in the same place after-school to do homework was a bit of a challenge, but I helped overcome that by going out for fresh air and regular walks,” says Charlotte.
And, as a testament to their positive outlooks, both girls were able to find a silver lining to the Covid-19 cloud.
Says Elizabeth, “I’ve boosted my computer skills, gained an appreciation of the outdoors, and I loved the chance to spend more time with my family, my cat Romeo and my teddy bears.”
Adds Charlotte, “I’ve learnt to always have an open mind and be positive even when things go wrong, and to look after my mental health by taking a break and getting outside when I’m getting stressed. I also got to have lots of cookery lessons with Mum in the hope that I can help out by cooking meals myself in the future!”