Last week, we sent our last homework to our Life Skills students. Our academic year draws to a close and it is now time to reflect on this unprecedented situation and prepare for the future. Covid-19 has even stolen the bittersweet last day of our courses. However, not all was doom and gloom under isolation and lockdown. We, teachers of Adults with Learning Disabilities, embraced the challenges created by the lockdown. Learning was not on hold!
Hannah Boyd- art teacher- used her creativity to film short homework videos with her mobile phone. Each week, she invited her students to produce work such as drawing a dinosaur from a 3D scan, using nature as inspiration, or preparing a dish in response to plant identification. The video was followed up by a phone call to provide further guidance and encouragement.
Hannah considered that it was the most appropriate medium which closely represents what is happening in her classroom. She enjoyed making the recordings, rapidly caught up with the technology and, learnt new skills. She recognised that it has given her a new perspective on how mobile phone technology can be used to engage, inspire and, enriched students' learning experience.
Hannah would like to further develop asynchronous and synchronous video communication for her courses. She also asked me to film a short cooking demonstration which she included in one of her homework videos. Hannah values providing students with different perspectives-reinforcing that learning is a collaborative enterprise.
It was a first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience even though I found filming stressful, but now I cannot wait to create educational videos to include in my courses.
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Another positive effect of the lockdown for all the Life Skills teachers was a better communication with parents/carers. These weekly contacts have created a tremendous momentum which we are going to keep for the benefit of all. The parents/carers gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the work involved in their son's and daughter's course and we gathered specific insight into the students' behaviour for learning at home. Working with parents/carers more efficiently is going to have a lasting beneficial effect on our students' future progress and achievement.
Michelle Bishton-creative teacher- highlighted that one of the true highs of the lockdown was to know her students even better than she did before. It allowed her to tailor and better set tasks to meet their unique interests. It acted as a powerful motivational tool that energised learning so necessary at this difficult time.
Elaine Vollans – creative and cookery teacher- emphasised how our students and their family/carers felt supported by Adult Education and how the students have looked forward to receiving their weekly homework. Remote learning has emphasised the importance of the teacher-student relationship. We may have been alone in our homes, but we have maintained contact and we worked together.
We all agreed that remote teaching will have a positive impact on our skills once we will be back in our classrooms.
Whilst in lockdown Life Skills cookery students have received work to do at home either by post or email. Each week they have been sent a recipe and worksheets, I always send recipes that can be changed or altered depending on what ingredients students have available to them. I'm not Jamie Oliver but have been influenced by his Keep cooking and carry on cooking series. This terms theme is Blue Planet which fits in well with saving resources and not wasting food.
Most students have been able to continue practising their cooking skills with the help and encouragement from their parents, guardians and carers. They are trying to eat healthily and continue exercising. I would like to thank everyone for their continuing support for the students.
It is undeniable that the lockdown created mixed emotions, but this experience has prepared us to respond to uncertain situations in flexible, innovative, and creative ways.
We will be ready for the next step and our next challenges. We will welcome back and support our students in a safe environment, reinstalling classroom learning but also online learning. We will once again ensure that our students receive the best possible learning opportunities.
We were not alone to embrace the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. I would like to finish by quoting our Head of Service, Joanne Keatley, which epitomises the resilience of our organisation during the lockdown."Adult Education has moved mountains, taken risks, innovated and the legacy of lockdown will be a more digitally responsive service. Very proud of Adult Education".