Having the flexibility to manage their own studies and the care and support of teachers who were “on call” were some of the positive remote learning lessons from a snap survey of Year 12 students at Greater Shepparton Secondary College.
Working to a weekly lesson plan and “getting up and into it” like any usual school day were also seen as important by the senior Wanganui and McGuire campus students.
Neighbourhood leaders at GSSC were asked to nominate a random selection of students who were coping well with the challenges of remote learning in their final year of secondary school.
The seven girls and two boys surveyed shared many of the same messages – including how digitally skilled their teachers had become in Term 3 compared to the previous term.
They also share the same bitter disappointment in having the brakes put on their graduation plans and social lives and are welcoming the planned return to school in Term 4.
Flexibility was a positive for most, with students able to adjust learning to suit their needs:
- Sarah Miller, McGuire: “I like working at my own pace. I can do my work at a time when I feel the most motivated – so I definitely work odd hours of the day!”
- Shaelyn Crowhurst, McGuire: “There is no ongoing pressure to get work done at a certain time. I am actually doing more work on weekends and in the evenings than I used to, but I can have a break when I want to and need to.”
- Olivia Gullick, Wanganui: “I seem to have more time and can fit in more study into the day. Having a lesson plan for the whole week now is a real help and improvement from the first time (Term 2 remote learning).”
- Mariam Alghazaly, McGuire: “I feel like I have a whole lot more time to visit the subjects I most need to.”
- Yousef Algaraawi, McGuire: “Sometimes, like when you just get up, your mind’s not really in the right place. So I find whatever I don’t get done early on I can make up for later in the day.”
Although students relish the freedom to prioritise, most agreed a daily routine remained important:
- Jessica Eldred, Wanganui, enjoys not having to brave winter temperatures to get to school: “But for me it’s important to get up, get changed like you’re having to go out and then get started.”
- Sarah Knight, Wanganui: “I basically follow my original timetable. I start at 9am, take my recess and take my lunch – it works for me.”
- Laura Cole, Wanganui: “It’s easy to reach for the laptop and phone and there’s Netflix… so at the start of the week I make up a timetable with all my learning tasks - I can check them off and I can see visually where I am and where I need to be at the end of the week.”
- Campbell Allen, Wanganui: “I clock on at 9am – having a schedule and things like having to go to a Teams call all helps to keep me motivated.”
Students had mixed feelings when it came to communication with teachers.
Surprisingly most have found their teachers more accessible in remote learning and say their overall support was more important than ever:
- Sarah Knight: “I would say it’s a lot easier to contact my teachers – I can message them and in a couple of minutes or maybe a little more they get back to me.”
- Laura Cole: “The teachers are doing their very best. They always want to check in with you to see if they are assigning too much work or not enough.”
- Yousef Algaraawi: “It’s hard to explain some things in remote learning, like chemistry. I message my teachers and they give me a call, but sometimes it can be difficult for me to explain without that practical and visual aspect to it.”
- Sarah Miller: “The teachers are doing well, they’re better at running a home class, sharing screens and having chats.”
- Jessica Eldred: “I feel like the teachers have really figured out how to best help us and provide that extra support.”
- Olivia Gullick: It has been hard and I miss having good conversations but I feel like the teachers are making an extra effort to make sure we’re all right.”
- Campbell Allen: “My teachers know I’m handling it well so I feel I have their support – I’m feeling confident and not struggling.”
A good “home office” with privacy was important for the students however some have had more challenges than others.
Shaelyn Crowhurst and Mariam Alghazaly have siblings from primary school through to secondary school and share the experience of the youngest being the hardest to keep “in class”.
Laura Cole has had it easier: “I’m lucky I have an older brother doing uni online and my parents are working so I have had no distractions.”