Heads Up MCO Virtual School
Experiences and Lessons Learnt
The Covid-19 pandemic practically forced schools to go virtual, with teachers and students thrown in at the deep end overnight. Stress and anxiety reigned at the beginning of the steep learning curve, but looking back, lessons learnt makes Heads Up more resilient, resourceful and effective.
Heads Up was enjoying the tail end of our term break when the government-enforced MCO descended upon us. Within 3 days, our strong IT support team and admin staff got the entire online schooling system up and running while working from home. Meanwhile, our determined academic staff attended intensive in-house and external training sessions to enhance their skills in making online lessons more engaging, interactive and effective.
The school chose to introduce both synchronous* and asynchronous* learning in our MCO virtual classrooms. So, our students were registered on Google Classrooms to allow asynchronous learning to complement our Zoom live-streaming lessons. Meanwhile, our centralised system encouraged Head Teachers to co-host with subject teachers to provide crucial support while maintaining accountability and quality of lessons.
On top of the daily onslaught of online classroom struggles, our staff were immersed in webinars, both local and overseas, to upscale our online teaching skills. We learned to support and promote the mental well-being of students who were suffering cooped-up-at-home blues while working at being creative and interactive in class. The school also organised school-wide activities to promote a good level of participation and excitement among the school community.
Communicating with parents during the MCO was essential for a seamless transition to online classrooms. We worked closely with parents, generating absenteeism reports, establishing Zoom home visits and counselling struggling students. A Zoom Parent-Teacher Conference and two town hall meetings kept parents and teachers on the same page regarding the students’ needs and updating the school community in a constantly changing environment.
Being a close-knit community, we also receieved honest feedback from students and parents regarding their MCO online learning experiences, struggles and concerns. Their valuable feedback enabled us to take measures to get the students back on track, as some students have been struggling with their online schooling sessions. Our experience confirms that virtual learning is more than just replacing physical classes with virtual classes!
’Just taking what you have and making it ‘digital’ is a guaranteed failure’
~ Drew Brown,CIO at Union Bank and Trust
*Synchronous - online teaching in real time and live streaming
*Asynchronous – online teaching in which teaching materials (such as pre-recorded videos, assignment or homework) are posted online, for example, in Google Classrooms. Learners work through them in their own time, communicating with each other and the teachers via discussion boards or forums, or even by email.