When Melbourne Girls Grammar moved to remote learning in March, the strength of the bond between families and the School grew and developed. We were invited into each other’s homes, and teachers proved to students that they were humans too. In the weeks at home, parents gained valuable insight into what their children learn about, how they interpret information and even how they behave in a class environment. This glimpse into school life helped reinforce the importance of teachers, and how parents can support their children in their school life.
Students were welcomed back to campus in a calm and considered staggered approach, with our youngest Grammarians in the Early Learning Centre and our VCE students welcomed back first. The joy, excitement and noise they brought back to campus was infectious and helped ease staff, students and parents back into face to face teaching and learning.
While we were physically distant, many lessons took place. Not just the obvious structured lessons in remote learning, but an appreciation and understanding developed between parents and teachers as both prioritised the learner.
For our parents, they suddenly had a chance to watch their daughters in class, and witness a diligent learner, one who thrived with collaboration and maybe those that gained confidence in remote learning when they had time to absorb concepts in their own time.
As Tammy Read, President, Parents Association said, “We were given remarkable insight into what our girls and their teachers do each day to foster their knowledge, skills and personal development. I observed my daughter enjoying an entertaining contemporary movement class in the lounge room as well as an early morning science experiment on the kitchen bench.”
Beyond their classes, parents were given the gift of quality time with their children. While not everyone saw isolation as a gift, many parents expressed that that’s what it was. Read some quotes from our parents below.
For our teachers, they were not only providing a continuous curriculum for our students, but many of them were juggling their own children and families at the same time. For Head of Drama, Victoria Page, the start of remote learning began with a home overhaul to provide a dedicated space in which to teach. That was quickly thwarted by Victoria’s son’s bundle of baby toys neatly stationed within arm’s reach of the desk chair.
With a young child eager for attention as well as a host of classes to entertain, the precarious balance of ‘living at work’ required some creative thinking. As Victoria and many other parents found through remote learning, a schedule and organisation were the key to the balancing act. That involved scheduling times for feeds and a play, as well as the Zoom lessons Victoria conducted online.
The period of remote learning was transformative in the way Victoria taught and something that increased the immense trust already established between her and her students and gave her precious time with her young son.
“Relationships have always been at the core of teaching, if you’ve ever been in my class you’ll know you are a part of a ‘Drama Family’,” said Victoria. “Starting classes and waiting for faces to pop up on Zoom was definitely a new experience. I missed the ability to ‘read the room’ and see the joy and shift in body language as students had ‘ah ha’ moments or observe when I needed to rephrase to make it click.”
As a collective, MGGS staff worked together to persevere with new technology. The quality of our teaching staff became more evident than ever as we moved online using our Learning Management System, Zoom, Seesaw, Office 365 and every other system in our toolbox. Every tool we had was all put in place with the aim to continue to connect with students and families.
“I have appreciated the virtual classroom buzzing with the usual laughter and chatter, though instead of uniforms the students were donned in oversized Rowing and Camp jumpers,” Victoria said. “I really enjoyed getting to know families – watching brothers bobbing in front of computer screens and Dad’s smirking as they sneak glimpses into the world of Melodrama. The whole experience has emphasised the need to be accommodating on when and how we learn – especially when balancing a baby and a virtual classroom!”
Melbourne Girls Grammar has always fostered independence and resilience in our Grammarians. The preparedness of our staff and students was one we could be proud of while we navigated a precarious balance of working and learning from home while maintaining relationships, connections and support.