We have reached out to the American Overseas School of Rome to ask how are they adapting their teaching approach to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Their Head of School, Mr. Michael Callan, had this to say:
“In extraordinary times, we learn extraordinary lessons. In the regular classroom setting, the teacher skillfully blends the art of teaching with the science of learning. Usually this artful blending takes place one to one, in small groups or in larger group settings. There is an energy in the classroom during this dance of inquiry. With school closures around the world, we have a new digital dancefloor to explore, adapt to and try to recreate that energy and flow of learning. So, far we have learned many valuable lessons:
It isn't the same. If we try to deliver the same lessons through this new platform, it will fail. A teacher in two dimensions does not have the attention capturing charisma as a three dimensional one. Therefore, our approach must change.
Routine is important. In uncertain times, we look for certainty. Following a bell schedule for check ins, creating welcome videos each day and expecting a well paced collection of evidence of student learning helps with the rhythm of learning for kids.
Balance is key. No one expects students (or teachers) to be online all day. Mix it up with activities that do not involve a screen. Get them up and active. Have students count the number of chairs in their house or calculate the volume of their kitchen. Have them interview a family member. Make sure they are taking breaks and getting some sunshine.
Less is more. Teaching online forces us to pare things down to essential learning. For us this is focusing on the standard and not so much on the activity. It has helped us focus not so much on what they are doing but what they are learning and how we can gather evidence of this learning.
Tell the story and communicate frequently. Each day the list of items to communicate to the community grows and yet, we choose one or two to send out every other day. These frequent, bite sized stories provide reassurance that although it looks different, learning is happening.
Promote fun. Find ways to unite your now digital community. Have contests, virtual spirit weeks. A virtual coffee bar or virtual Friday Booster Bar. Make sure people are still interacting, laughing and receiving support.
This dance of learning is certainly different and we are constantly looking for ways to make the rhythm and flow of learning as graceful as possible in our new online dancefloor.”
-Michael Callan, AOSR Head of School
Digital Learning during the Coronavirus
AOSR remains committed to providing innovative ways to continue to deliver high-quality education, even under exceptional circumstances! There is a sense of pride in the community's ability to demonstrate resilience and balance during such a challenging time.
We recognize the importance of routine, relationships, and authentic learning experiences for students. Daily interactions and unique learning opportunities continue happening individually, in small groups, or as a class through multiple digital learning platforms. While online learning cannot replicate onsite learning, teachers still deliver powerful instruction that allows students to meet expected standards and learning targets, even with external programs such as AP and IB courses. Students continue to take risks with a growth mindset, receive explicit and individual feedback from their peers and teachers, and engage in opportunities for reflection and revision.
The success of AOSR’s online learning is centered around the partnership between dedicated faculty, an engaged student body, and continued parental support. This digital experience has taught an extraordinary lesson during an extraordinary time- that online learning can still ensure continued student academic progress and a strong community!