Unique educational perspectives are shared from a student, parent and tutor during the current lockdown.
In this next instalment we look at some of the personal experiences of homeschooling from those affected by lockdown.
In light of these challenging circumstances, we reached out to the Bright Heart community for their perspectives on homeschooling and online tutoring during lockdown. Thank you for all your insightful comments and questions.
Special thanks to Tom (student), Steven (parent) and Angela (tutor) for sharing their experiences with us and agreeing to have them published.
Let’s start with one of our most enthusiastic and brilliant young minds, Tom. He has fully embraced online tutoring during the last month and a half. It has been such a pleasure to see how much Tom has progressed during the last year. It has been especially rewarding to know that he has been able to keep the good work up during lockdown, despite all the added challenges.
I have been having lessons with John for about a year now. I have a lot of ideas, but sometimes I have trouble organising them. John really helps me with planning my writing and putting it down on paper. I was a bit nervous about having a tutor at the beginning, but I have not regretted it since, as it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience!
The transition from face to face sessions to online has been very smooth and I feel like I am learning just as much as before. I still look forward to every session and it is one of the highlights of my week. I would definitely recommend Bright Heart Tutors.”
One of our Bright Heart parents, Steven, wrote to us to share some of his family’s experiences with homeschooling. In his detailed account, he talks about the inadequate use of technology by the school and the anxiety that the mounting workloads and lack of in-person instruction has caused his son during lockdown. It is worth noting that teachers also feel overwhelmed and unprepared these days, despite having technological tools at their disposal, as no one could foresee the scale and complexities of the current situation. Steven decided to use our online tutoring service to help his son overcome his anxiety and guide him with his work on a daily basis.
My son’s school has decided to use Microsoft Teams as its remote learning platform. There were a few technical issues, which are understandable, but I’m not impressed with the way the school has organised these lessons, as the school has decided to host lessons to all or nearly all students at once per subject.
My child is in year 7, so we’re talking multiple classes in the same year group, or basically 100+ children per subject. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue in older year groups such as GCSE or A Levels since the myriad subject choices students could choose at this level means that each subject naturally would contain less children, but this presents a problem for younger ones. To keep things in some semblance of order, children are asked to mute their audio and keep their video off. Their only outlet for questions is via the text chat function. This results in either too many questions at once, overwhelming the teacher’s ability to teach and answer them at the same time, or where the teacher is presenting and not looking at the chat completely, a torrent of irrelevant chat and GIFs; hardly surprising since the children are only 12 years old and there’s potentially 100 of them in the same lesson.
In terms of presentation, a Maths lesson I observed had the teacher talking and demonstrating by using a camera pointed down at a desk whiteboard. This hints at teachers not being provided with the right equipment. A tablet computer or separate tablet device (with or without screen) is what they should be using. Perhaps this is part of the teething issues and will be resolved at a later date as the school gains more experience from this approach to learning.
Recently I also saw a pre-recorded lesson. It looked more professional, as the teacher had clearly taken the time to create the presentation deck and voice over during the lesson. However, this is not ideal as it wasn’t live.
The biggest issues I see with the above approach that need to be considered and rectified by the school are:
My child’s school remote learning implementation is not the greatest. Large class sizes, almost no ability for interaction or questions, no record of the class post lesson, results in an inferior learning experience. I think the school should lower class sizes by having more teachers present, thus allowing more interaction. It should make recordings available to the students afterward, provide more training and better equipment to teachers.
Hopefully as the school gains experience and more teachers become available to teach, some of these issues will start to diminish or even disappear. Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later. But from my observation, remote learning as implemented by my child’s school is little better than my child teaching himself. Only the fact that the classes are at set times and timetabled give any sort of advantage to this approach.
My son has learning difficulties and he was feeling overwhelmed and anxious with the technical issues, impossible workloads and lack of communication with his teachers. He is in constant need of support and encouragement and I therefore sought the help of Bright Heart to increase the number of tutoring sessions through their online platform. Having that 1:1 support proved to be invaluable for my son, who is now successfully coping with all the challenges which seemed insurmountable to him not too long ago.”
Finally, one of our tutors, Angela, who made the transition from in-person to online tutoring relates her experience below, which has been educational for both her and her students.
Working as an online tutor during lockdown has generally been very positive.
I am currently 9 months pregnant so it has been a great way to continue supporting the students while not having to navigate the tube at rush hour! Overall, it has been remarkable to see how some of the children have adapted to and have enjoyed using the technology. I have seen them engage in novel ways with the material and some have demonstrated more agency in their learning. Having a screen in front of them, at a set time has also, somewhat surprisingly, been a good medium for those students who struggle to focus.
My students have benefitted from the consistency of maintaining weekly tuition and it has definitely given them confidence in using new skills. It has also brought about new skills for me, for example, forcing me to be more concise in my instruction and explanation. Overall, I believe that going forward, it is an excellent option for students and tutors alike.”
We have written a series of blogs about education during lockdown which you may find useful: Homeschooling tips for parents during Coronavirus lockdown, Questions (FAQ) about learning, schools and exams during lockdown and Pros and cons of online tutoring and tips for parents using an online tutor.
We also held a Facebook Live Q & A where we answered some common questions from parents at this time.
Bright Heart will continue to offer guidance and support during this challenging period.
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