Reopening Bahrain schools - GESS Talks

Beyond Reopening Schools - Term One Recap From A Bahraini International School's Perspective

After a different first term in the wake outbreak of Coronavirus our top priority was the health and safety of our students.

Alhekma International School Bahrain (AHIS)school admin conducted several meetings to discuss the hopes and goals for the school year keeping in mind the worries and concerns. We have started the school year surveying our parents with the different teaching models that we offer like full attendance in-person, remote-only or a hybrid mix. We also kept the communication channels open for parents in case they wanted to change from one learning model to the other. To ease the school parent communication we implemented an SSO (Single Sign On). This tool facilitated access of students and parents to all school applications, online systems, and online textbooks. Parents can access their child’s grades, attendance, teacher comments view recent alerts that were sent out and missing assignments and student’s schedule.

Teaching and learning

For AHIS families who chose distance learning, they received a daily Zoom schedule of synchronous learning experience. Our students, who demonstrated high independent and technology skills, were provided with a hybrid learning model and were divided into two groups. Each group got an equal chance of learning on campus (2 days a week) or at home (three days a week) and both followed the same learning schedule.

The group assigned to learn from home on a specific day got the chance to attend the lesson taking place in class using Zoom app (streaming). Our classrooms are equipped with web-cams for students to be able see their teacher and the rest of their classmates. On campus and distance learners were engaged throughout the term in online activities simultaneously as assigned by their teachers. All learning models in place provided our students with an equitable high quality engaging and interactive learning experience.  As an example during October and November our students excelled in virtual and in campus activities like Think Pink, Reading and Writing Week ,Diversity Day, Diabetes Awareness Campaign, Children’s Day, Throwback Thursday ,Table tennis tournament and Kindness week. We were very happy to witness our students’ effective involvement.

AHIS is trying to maintain structure by building an extensive remote learning operation. Lessons are being run through the videoconference platform Zoom ,flip classrooms ,Google classroom and on line assignments and testing . Teachers are still giving lessons and answering student’s questions and students are still going to class. Except now it’s through their devices while they sit at home .Our distance learning plan promotes active learning. The online educational videos are created in ways that help students engage with the subject of study, solving problems through a diverse range of methods. AHIS continues to improve the quality of its existing curriculum through technology, and have a strong contingency plan in place for remote education provision. We use a curriculum sequence that allows access to high-quality online and offline resources and teaching videos and that is linked to the school’s curriculum expectations. We give access to high quality remote education resources like Apex. And we also select the online tools that will be consistently used across the school in order to allow interaction, assessment and feedback and make sure our staff is trained in their use.

Parent-teacher Meeting

This year our parent teacher meetings went virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zoom time slot appointment link was shared with parents. Parents were requested to book their appointment slots. The PMID and Password were shared with parents via their parent emails. Parents were offered 15 minutes with every teacher. No parent wants to miss out on their children’s school life and even if they do have to, the reasons are usually genuine and urgent. Parent-teacher meetings are a great way where the parents and teachers bond and form a formidable co-operative with the sole intention of bettering the children, where both the parties who care for the child can collaborate and work together to give the child a brighter future.

Outcome: Our concerns turned out to be unwarranted. The vast majority of our teachers were able to communicate with parents online with no difficulty. Meetings were productive even though they were virtual. One reason is the objectives of parent-teacher meetings, whether online or in person, always are the same. Our goal is to celebrate the accomplishments of students and develop ways to help students struggling. One disadvantage of such meetings might be is that virtual meetings do not let parents see the classroom or classrooms of their students. They do not get to see the environment they are learning in.

Challenges Faced during Term 1

Nevertheless, no matter what technologies are introduced, we must bear in mind that not everyone is a technophile. For EdTech adoption to take-off, AHIS worked to adjust parents and student’s cultures so that they are open to advancements.

On line testing: One of the most challenging aspects of conducting remote test is ensuring students aren’t using the internet or other resources to assist them. When test are conducted remotely, it’s more difficult to ensure students abide by the rules that are set. Other issues regarding online testing include ensuring students have a strong enough internet connection to take part in the test, and doesn’t face any technical issues.

Regarding adaptive learning in classrooms, AHIS provides the opportunity to retain the benefits of learning in a group (social skills, motivation, and so on) and combine this with fully personalized instruction. We’re making progress towards this, but fully moving away from ‘one-size-fits-all’ learning and inflexible learning pathways will take time. Our teachers face an enormous pedagogical change, they must meet the needs of in-person and remote (online) students, sometimes simultaneously.

How students feel about the new measures varied widely. Some felt a much greater responsibility for safety and hygiene measures and were much more preoccupied with them, than others. Some thought things are basically OK, though they are far from OK. What matters most is being conscious of what’s going on inside student’s heads as we go into the new term. The health and wellbeing of our students and our education workforce is at the forefront of any planned increase in operation for our school. We have provided additional cleaning staff; sanitizers and thermometers. We minimized contact between all individuals wherever possible.

Throughout this crisis and for the upcoming terms, AHIS will increasingly look towards:

  •  Effectiveness of symptoms-reporting, monitoring and tracing of suspected cases.
  • The effects of policies and measures on educational objectives and learning outcomes.
  • The effects of policies and measures on health and well-being of students, staff and parents.
  • Assessment of impact of remote and hybrid teaching on learning outcomes.

Based on what is learned from this monitoring, further modifications will be made to continue to provide students and staff with the safest environment possible.