A Virtual First Day of School Amidst the Covid-19 School Closures
Think back to a first-day experience - work or home - and the feelings that you experienced walking through the door that first time. For most people, this was a combination of excitement and nervousness. Now, imagine this same experience in a virtual world…it certainly sounds like a challenge!
For some students at Stamford American School Hong Kong, their first day at school was an online experience during the school suspension period. As Stamford prides itself on its warm welcome and smooth transition plans for students and their parents, staff and families worked together to ensure that information and support were in place during this extraordinary time.
Ms. C, mother of a new Grade 3 student, shared, "We never expected that our son's first day of school would not be face-to-face. He felt a little scared of the new experience at first, but once he connected to his first class, he found it so interesting! Now his favorite part of the day is the online live lessons."
Leading Innovation in Online Learning
Ms. Karrie Dietz, Head of School at Stamford, shared, "Stamford has always been at the forefront with technology, and following the school closure period earlier in the year, we prepared an online learning plan which we have been able to evolve with parent and student feedback."
"On our son's first day at Stamford, Senior Admissions Manager, Ms. Zita Suen arranged for us to meet the Homeroom Teacher and IT support team. We collected a school laptop and were shown how to access the materials in Stamford's online learning portal," said Ms. H, parent of a Grade 8 student who joined early last month.
Stamford's online learning for secondary students is prepared just like a regular school day with live check-ins with each teacher as per their timetabled schedule of lessons. Teachers have also prepared videos so that students can follow along with the activities and access the learning from different timeframes. "The video lessons allow students to watch the activity several times, so they understand what to do," shared a parent.
To further support families as they try to balance both work and study commitments from home, Stamford has offered counseling support and specialist tips. "Our blog articles and videos have been well-received by families looking for ideas. We have also arranged live sessions with our parents to help them support their child during this period," said Ms. Dietz.
Extending Culture of Care in the Digital Realm
"We have received a lot of support from our son's teachers," said Ms. C. Ms. Heagle, a specialist Art Teacher, connected with the family individually during a special live chat to explain the art tasks personally. "I was so surprised that my son can create art, right on the iPad!" Ms. C said happily. "His Homeroom teacher, Ms. Struble, is very fast to reply to our questions and give feedback through Google Classroom and the online class sessions. The school also offers daily check-in with his EAL teacher."
Ms. C said, "We are lucky that our son joined Stamford and is receiving this level of contact and support from his teachers. It is a busy time for us as parents; however, it is also an opportunity for us to learn about the curriculum and how teaching and learning take place."
Another parent also shared their feelings, "We were a little hesitant at first, as we didn't have this technology when we were children; however, our son has settled in very well. The lessons are so engaging. He has particularly enjoyed making videos for his Spanish language class."
"Our son is looking forward to going to school in person to meet the classmates that he has met in his online lessons," said Ms. H.
"We are always willing to go above and beyond for quality education for our child. While the timing was not perfect, we are very grateful to Stamford for their support," the family added.