In the wake of the bushfires and COVID-19, the CEP has been speaking with numerous principals across the state. Here is one story from Avenel Primary School, with new Principal, Ross Davis only starting in the role at the beginning of 2020.
At Avenel Primary School, the school and wider community have engaged with their new remote learning environment through a creative and student lead approach, which is gaining great support from staff, parents and most certainly the students. Known as “Monday Funday”, the initiative has seen students engaged in range of student learning activities and has resulted in a number of other student centred learning programs being developed by students and staff.
Here is their story:
Ross Davis started at Avenel Primary School this year. He wrote in his first message to the school community that:
“it is an honour to join Avenel Primary School as Principal of this highly regarded school. Avenel Primary School has a strong reputation for meeting the needs of all children in our community, academic, social, and cultural.”
Five months later, Ross has indeed found out how remarkable the school located in the Goulbourn North Eastern area of Victoria is, through the work of transitioning the students to remote learning.
Avenel Primary School, along with all schools across Victoria, faced the possibility of remote learning after term one. At that time, the school had used a variety of technology platforms to support the learning process within the classroom, but not to a degree to teach students solely through these platforms. When discussing the possible options that the school could take with his staff and leadership team, Ross received overwhelming support to transition the students to an online platform. The reasoning of his staff was simple: they would be able to interact with each of their students daily and help them both academically and emotionally.
The Avenel Primary School team then spent the pupil-free days allocated to them at the end of term one and the beginning of term two to devise a plan for remote learning. The school set about transitioning 140 students into the virtual world within a week, while supporting the 20 students physically attending school each day. Ross was inspired by the care that the teachers have shown in supporting each other, the general community, and their students.
This transition to remote learning has seen the staff presenting mini-lessons online in the areas of literacy and numeracy through the platforms of Microsoft Teams, See Saw, and Webex. Ross said that one of the most significant benefits of an online context was that his teachers have been able to provide feedback to the students in real-time. The online platform has allowed the teachers to adjust planning for the next day, ensuring the students’ point of need is met, and the pace of learning is appropriate.
Additionally, Ross has received overwhelming support from the community. Both he and his staff have been impressed with the attitude of the students in adapting to remote learning. This positive attitude has seen the students think creatively.
On Monday the 11th of May, the Junior School Council organised a Monday Funday. Regular online and hard pack activities were traded for the day, with students hosting a series of fun activities that didn’t require a device. The brief for the day read:
Welcome to the first Monday Funday with ideas inspired by Junior School Council. Everyone has been doing a great job with remote learning, so today is about having a bit of a different day, where everyone can enjoy some fun activities. The days aim was to do some fun creative activities and to stay off devices for a day. There are eight activities to choose from, and teachers will be closely monitoring the day and completing some of the events themselves.
Activities include writing positive messages on pebbles for people to find, creating an obstacle course, cooking with an adult, and even completing a random act of kindness.
The creative thinking hasn’t stopped with the Monday Funday. The school has also participated in a virtual excursion to Yosemite National Park. Students visited the many areas of interest throughout the park and then completed a variety of activities. This excursion was a huge success.
Avenel Primary School has turned the challenge of remote learning into an opportunity to fully engage with their students and community. They have embraced a creativity mindset ad worked alongside their students in developing an engaging and challenging learning during these difficult times.