GLO (Glenaeon Learning Online) was introduced to Glenaeon's Primary School as a parent portal at the beginning of this school year. When the COVID-19 global pandemic threw parents and educators a curveball, the platform's value as an educational tool was brought to the fore. The school does not typically introduce technology to students until they reach the High School Year 7. This point of difference has been an attraction for parents wanting their children to have limited /no screen time in those crucial early developmental years. Deputy Head of School K-Class 6, Ms Dani Finch spearheaded GLO's initial rollout to the Primary School as a parent portal. She is now reflecting on the fortunate timing, which is enabling our Parents, Students and Teachers to stay connected, during the virus' disruption to school life.
- What was the initial update of GLO like?
The word complex comes to mind! For a school that hosted a seminar devoted to the importance of play in nature merely weeks ago, the overnight move to delivering material that is true to Glenaeon's ethos while remaining engaging and relevant in an online environment has been technically and pedagogically very challenging!
- What has been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge has been losing our daily in-person connection with the children. The central tenet of Steiner education is that we educate the whole human being in a social context. Losing that relationship (for a while at least), seeing the children miss school, their teachers and their friends has been difficult.
- What has been some of the successes?
So many! Notably:
- The resilience and grace with which our teachers have approached this enormous task,
- The willingness of parents to be flexible and go with us on this journey,
- Witnessing the artistry of each teacher through the material they present on GLO,
- Zoom rooms! They are coming along well, and we will use this technology more next term.
- How much of what COVID-19 has forced upon us will stay in the future?/The new-normal?
I think it's too early to answer that question. It has never been more apparent to me that teaching is an art - not a science. Good teaching relies on human connection and warmth. To watch a Class Teacher deliver the Main Lesson to a group of spellbound children in a classroom is similar to watching a great conductor with an orchestra. Some things won't change!
- How have the students responded?
The students are missing their rhythms, their friends and all that school brings. They are, however delighting us in their responses and in our zoom room sessions where they show their completed work, their pets, their families and their work stations. One class has a GLO talent quest running with students sending in various items to share with the class. Parents have done a fantastic job of keeping things as healthy and as optimistic as possible.
- How have parents responded?
Most parents have been incredibly grateful and supportive. For some, it has been an opportunity to delve into subject matter and activities with their child and have a closer look into their child's learning. Others are feeling very stretched - trying to work from home and assist or direct home learning is exceptionally challenging. Parents can be assured that we will be working hard to refine our offerings over the coming weeks.
- How have the Teachers responded?
The Primary faculty has been outstanding! I couldn't have hoped for a better team with whom to face this challenge. There is no doubt that we still have refinements to make, but it is because of the teachers that Glenaeon's remote learning in the past two weeks has been creative, rigorous and of an exceptional standard.
- What are you most proud of?
I'm so proud of our students' beautiful work at home - colourful, detailed maps of the school, a movie of the story of Zarathustra featuring guinea pigs (!), science experiments, wax models! It is a highlight of my days to look through the submitted work then pop in to visit various zoom rooms.
- What should we all bear in mind until June 30, or whenever the virus issue subsides?
That learning at home is not school! We will be back together and oh how grand it will be!