In this Part II of an interview series on what distance learning and online classes have signified for teachers from around the world, a Hong Kong Academy teacher, Carly Buntin (now already in her 4th month of distance learning) shares her early lessons, challenges, and helpful practices for coping with the sudden school closures and the inevitable transition to distance learning.
3 Ways Parents Can Reduce Stress
It’s all about balance.
What works for your family may be different from what works for other families, and that’s okay. Create a list of tasks for you and your kids, and “star” the ones that are priorities for the day. If you get through those and want to try more, feel free to attempt the additional assignments – but treat them as optional. However, if they aren’t a good fit for that day, save those for another time. Sometimes you will want more, other times you may feel frustrated by how overwhelming it is.
Be kind to yourselves.
Be patient with yourself and your kids. This style of learning is not the “norm” for most of us and so it’s important to take time to figure out what works best for you as a family. The first time you try a new lesson plan or activity with your kids, it may not work and that’s ok. Give yourselves time to adjust.
Recognize the silver lining.
Recognize that you are doing your best and that your children are learning from their time at home in so many ways, on top of their academic learning. Relish the opportunity for family time, life-lessons and in-the-moment learning that you’ll likely all look back on with fond memories from this unique time in your lives when you suddenly spent A LOT of time together.
How Students Can Stay Motivated:
Remember that communication is key.
It is a new environment and not being able to talk to your teachers and peers face-to-face may seem really unfamiliar at first. Don’t be afraid to raise any concerns that you have or let someone you trust know if you’re having a hard time. Make time to talk to your teachers or an adult you trust to let them know how you are doing.
Keep an open mind.
Acknowledge that it is a difficult transition for everyone, but it is important to stay positive and be open-minded about this new mode of learning. Get creative in the way you keep up with your studies and have fun trying new activities and up-skilling yourselves!
Final Thoughts with Carly
Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known in the past?
That we would be online for this long?! Maybe it was a gift that we didn’t know, as it might have been daunting, but at the same time we have had to make constant changes to the program given that it’s long term. Now that we know we will be online for a longer period, we’ve been able to make more long-term adjustments to our timetable and create a schedule that works well for the teachers and for the children. We are trying to offer the a full, accessible curriculum and support this new structure as best as possible.
I wish I had been prepared for how relationships with parents and colleagues were tested. As I said, everyone deals with stress and the realities of a pandemic differently. As a result, people can react differently. I’ve been caught off guard with out-of-character reactions and frustrations. I learned that being patient, empathetic, and supportive (even at times when I was frustrated) were the best go-to strategies for me to get through the rough patches. Drawing on my Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching training has supported me in addressing these situations and helped me help others (thinkingcollaborative.com).
Are most schools in Hong Kong doing remote learning? Are there a few different approaches schools are taking or are most doing it the same way?
There are definitely a mix of approaches, some similar and some different. Due to the protests (in 2019), we had an opportunity to test run some platforms before COVID-19 so we were up and running within the first week of remote learning. It was a massive accomplishment for us. Some schools don’t have the tech tools or budget to offer what we can so we are very lucky in that regard. For example we allow kids to come and pick up one-to-one devices.
In our early years and lower primary grades, we use Seesaw for online learning. In grades four and five we use Google Classroom and in our Secondary School they are running a synchronous online schedule through Google Classroom and Google Meets.
Carly is a 5th grade teacher and the Upper Primary Coordinator at HKA. She is a committed educator who prides herself in establishing a strong rapport with students and colleagues. Carly draws on 15 years of experience as an inclusive international educator in primary classrooms to construct positive, caring and engaging classroom cultures anchored by mutual respect. A mother of two and a lifelong learner, she continues to explore new avenues for growth as a female leader and educator.