Happy New Year to you all and I hope 2021 brings some comfort to you and your families after a traumatic 2020.
You will have seen and heard the announcement regarding resumption of remote learning from Monday 11th January as a result of the enforced closure of our school.
Throughout the lock down of 2020 and the subsequent new ways of operating our school from September until now, so many of you have contacted us and acknowledged the wonderful work the school teachers and staff have done in making sure the boys continue to receive the very best education and support.
While returning to remote learning is not good news for any of us, we have the consolation of knowing that we have supported learning at home remarkably well from March to June and that we can do it again during the weeks ahead. We also now have learned how incredibly resilient our boys are and that they can rise to this challenge of learning at home for a second time. Another comforting finding that our teachers have noted is that the boys were able to catch up on any areas they missed out on during the last lock down at a much faster pace than anticipated.
I would strongly urge our school community of school staff, parents, guardians and pupils to trust what we put in place and what has worked for us up to now. We have taken note of all the input from our school community: from our teachers and staff, from our parent body through their correspondence and survey which was completed during the last lockdown, and from our pupils who voiced their views upon their return to school last September. We have engaged in and mastered extra IT solutions and are able to support our pupils learning by digital means. We will now be returning to these forms of communication with you all.
The school team has met remotely to finalise our remote learning plan taking all of the above into account.
Here is a summary of the plan for you at home so we are all on the same mode of thinking. The class teacher will be in touch with specific details of the support for your child’s learning.
Our main aim is keeping the learning going at home, keeping the children engaged with learning from a distance.
We will be setting tasks for the pupils via our existing portals eg. Emails, Google classroom for 3rd class and above, , See Saw for 2nd class and below, Zoom, and Loom.
We are taking a realistic approach as we are catering for different home learning/parenting environments and supporting the needs of pupils who all learn at different speeds and have different learning strengths and needs. Our pupils with SEN will continue to be supported by the SEN team alongside their class teacher.
We will try to keep our communication simple and routine so that you are not overburdened or bombarded with emails, apps, activities etc.
We will try to sustain a manageable pupil workload, a realistic aim is for 2 hours a day (broken up into 3 chunks) for midlevel pupils, a little lower for younger and a little higher for older boys. We advise you to use resources such as RTE School hub as part of the learning plan at home.
We will provide a balance of on line and off line tasks, as we need to consider computer access and screen fatigue for our pupils.
Feedback on tasks is very important for all our pupils to give purpose and keep them motivated. and for our younger pupils it is especially needed at the time of completion of said task. Self-assessment helps learning immensely so at times we will ask that the boys self-correct some of their tasks, and/or correct work with their parents/guardians leading to more learning. This completed work can be kept in a folder until the teacher can see it upon return to school. The teachers will be communicating regularly with the boys where they can then show and discuss what they have learned in a more meaningful way. Of course some completed tasks and work may be submitted through Google classroom or See Saw or Email to the teacher who will give feedback at a later stage. Each teacher will let you know how they plan to do this.
Learning will consist of many options such as watching films and giving reviews, reading books and giving reviews, cooking, art and crafts, scientific experiments, learning a new skill such as playing an instrument or creating a piece of music, song, poem etc. As an active school, there will be a focus on building up fitness levels and improving fine and gross motor skills through skipping, throwing and aiming, running, dancing, hurling and football skills etc, – again your teacher will advise here.
I hope this email has allayed any concerns you have about school. Of course you will have other pressing concerns for your own family and loved ones at this time. For some this will involve caring and supporting elderly parents and vulnerable family members and/or young children. Some of you will have experienced and are experiencing the terrible sadness of losing a loved one.
If we in St Joseph’s can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to communicate with us.
These are difficult and challenging times but by supporting each other, we will get through it.