This has been a challenging school year in Hong Kong for both families and schools alike, as the second school closure of the year is now stretching into mid-April and the concept of traditional in-class learning has been transformed into a completely virtual space.
Many parents and schools might have felt daunted by this challenge. However, for schools like Stamford American School Hong Kong, who have always been at the forefront of innovation, especially in the area of STEM education, this challenge was an opportunity to further innovate how technology can deliver high-quality teaching and learning under the guidance of experienced specialists and some parents are finding it a chance to engage more in the curriculum.
The Evolution of Online Classroom
“Innovation is part of the culture of the school, and education technology has always played a major role in our teaching and learning. We saw this challenge as an opportunity to engage students in meaningful ways online, and are proud to see our community embracing this new mode of learning in such a short time” Head of School Karrie Dietz commented. Parent feedback and a passionate faculty helped transform a variety of content into a more structured program. This meant streamlining various platforms and apps for easier use and offering additional live classes and daily teacher check-ins to spike engagement. Downloadable content gave flexibility for students in any time zone and parents the opportunity to involve themselves more with the curriculum. “The PE home videos are a hit! We do the yoga poses at home as a family!” said Fong E, mother of two Stamford children, Grade 8 and 2, “I feel like I’ve gone back to school again these past two weeks, learning something that we have been taught before but in a totally different way! Now I can probably relate to the kids better when they tell me about things they do in school and the apps they use... I am learning too!”
This shift has not been without challenges, but innovations shone through with students creating their own websites showcasing their online learning space, interactive read-alouds to celebrate World Book Day, and a variety of science experiments using household materials. The flexibility of online learning means that teachers can now further personalize their teaching by scheduling small group online tutorials, which is the case with the Grade 3 reading classes.
Lower School Principal Rose Chambers, who joins online classes daily, commented, “It has been impressive to see the high level of engagement, and inspiring work from our students. We always encourage students to have a growth mindset, and it is wonderful to see this attitude in our staff and our families too. To support this, we are consistently checking in with students and parents to ensure that we are delivering high-quality education. Our teachers have shown dedication, ingenuity, and flexibility throughout this time, always with their students’ wellbeing in mind.“
It takes more than technology to bring the classroom online, careful planning and communication are integral to this. “After the previous school closure in November, we reflected on our online learning processes to find opportunities to improve the experience across all subjects in our curriculum. We shared a plan with families and students, and their feedback helped us create virtual learning that we are very proud of” Karrie supplemented. In addition to sharing learning plans, the school opened its doors before and after the school holiday and offered full IT support, including device pick-up, so online learning would be accessible for the students.
The efforts have not gone unnoticed, “I applaud Stamford for stepping up so quickly to the challenge to provide kids with a quality online learning experience. Well done, everyone!” shared Christina, mother of Nick Grade 5, who has been with Stamford since its opening.
To get a better glimpse into some of the activities visit Stamford HK Facebook.