David Bott

Matt Seddon 960x450

Whilst schools in Australia and beyond continue to be faced with uncertainty, difficulty, and loss, we are also witnessing so much of the human spirit at its best. One of the most fascinating aspects of the global situation is the way schools have so rapidly risen to the challenge of remote schooling. And although we all have unique communities to serve, there is so much we can learn from each other.

Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing Matt Seddon, Deputy Head of Senior School at Kellett School in Hong Kong. This conversation was the first episode in a special new series, Teaching Remotely, Learning Together, that brings in leading educators from around the world to share key lessons learned from their school’s experience of delivering high-quality education during the pandemic.

Throughout the interview Matt reflects on Kellett’s first 12 weeks of remote learning, and shares practical tips, strategies, resources and stories about student and colleague wellbeing.

You can watch the interview here.

Here are six key takeaways we’ve been discussing:

1. Students have adapted faster than expected and faster than teachers and parents.
Remote learning has necessitated a transition in responsibility from teachers to students. Students have responded well to increased independence and technological requirements.

2. 30 minutes of prioritised pastoral time each day has helped students to maintain a sense of connectedness.
Schooling is much more than a series of learning opportunities. Great schools are based on a foundation of community, safety, and connection. And this remains true for online schooling. This time also provides the opportunity to actively listen to and be informed by the ‘voice’ of students.

3. Preparing and teaching content remotely takes much, much longer.
Transforming lesson materials and pedagogy approaches is not straightforward. It takes a lot of time, patience, strategy, and support.

4. Empathy requires time and energy. And empathy enables compassion.
Every student, colleague and family situation is unique right now. It’s crucial to do everything possible to understand each person, each family’s situation so that genuinely compassionate support is possible.

5. Schools are about people. More than anything, people need to feel seen and that they belong.
There is enhanced importance on seeking opportunities for playfulness and connection. These can be formal strategies such as ‘secret’ gratitude letters to teachers or less formal strategies such as online ‘colleague karaoke’.

6. Schools will return to ‘normal’ but we are being forced to think in different ways.
Traditional ‘status-quo’ practice will be seriously challenged by the experiences that have been provided by the current situation. Parent interaction, student feedback, professional learning, the purpose of exams…there are some exciting conversations ahead.

More than ever, there is an emphasis on schools viewing themselves as ‘learning organisations’ that need to adapt resiliently and evolve constantly. One of the most exciting silver linings of our global situation is the generosity and openness with which schools are willing to learn together.

Episode 2 of Teaching Remotely, Learning Together features Steve McLuckie (Executive Principal) and Victoria McLuckie (Director of Learning and Wellbeing) from the Australian International School in Sharjah, UAE. This dynamic Australian couple have been leading the school’s remote learning response over the last five weeks and will share more practical strategies, stories, and lessons learned.

David Bott

David Bott is the Associate Director of the Institute of Positive Education. David has been involved in training thousands of teachers from hundreds of schools around the world in designing, implementing and sustaining individual and whole-school approaches to wellbeing.