Kelly Holmes, Visible Learning and Data Coach, Middle Senior School
As schools across the globe have adapted their learning programs and modes of delivery in response to COVID-19, there have been many questions about what is the best approach to support learners and families. Professor John Hattie, architect of the Visible Learning approach to school effectiveness, offers his evidence-based perspective on some of these concerns.
Hattie contends that even with extended breaks of 10 weeks or more due to disasters like the Christchurch earthquake, the evidence suggests that the effect on student learning is low. He argues this is because teachers are adept at tailoring learning to what students need. There are two points that are relevant to the Australian International School Malaysia (AISM) - and all schools! Firstly, although delivery modes have altered, learning for AISM students has continued and engagement with the content has been strong. Further, formative assessment has continued to be the cornerstone of learning programs during the pandemic. Our teachers have used online testing, quizzes and work samples, amongst other tools to collect data about student learning needs and adapt teaching programs accordingly. We know that when school resumes at our beautiful campus, learning programs will be developed according to what our students need, as this is part and parcel of the Visible Learning practices we utilise at AISM. Importantly, teachers are still coordinating, organising and producing the work that students and families are following, which is very different from home schooling.
Hattie notes that parents are themselves in a novel and challenging position, many having to balance their own working commitments with supporting their children in learning from home. He suggests that parents see their role as establishing and maintaining daily routines for their children. We know from plentiful feedback, that AISM parents have successfully created home learning environments for their children.
Further, Hattie asks that parents help students become comfortable with not knowing something. Not knowing, he claims, is a sign of readiness and excitement in learning. Parents can help their children in developing their skills in reaching out to their teacher, using the multiple channels used across the school including email, SeeSaw, Google Meet and Google Classroom, when they are unsure.
In essence, John Hattie recommends that schools and school communities do not panic. The world and learning is altered for the time being, but in general learning will not be harmed. He also notes that schools are places of community, where social togetherness is promoted and as such they will be critical to emotional recovery post-pandemic.
Schools, Hattie contends, are always strongest when leaders, teachers, students and parents work together to forward learning outcomes for students. Events post-earthquake in Christchurch pointed to stronger achievement by the time the examination candidates took their final examinations. The strength and depth of the AISM community makes it well placed to continue to meet the learning needs of all students during these challenging times and once the (Conditional) Movement Control Order is lifted. Our survey results have shown an immense amount of support for how well the School was prepared for ensuring continuity of learning - both while at home and in the bridging phase for returning to campus.