by Kathy Hu, Nanshan Waldorf School Beijing, China
The situation in China is getting better and our school started digital school 4 weeks before. We have learned a lot from that.
We start to discuss that before the original date of resume of school since we anticipate the school might be delayed. It did happened as we assumed. We basically use Zoom meeting to connect with our colleagues, have online discussion and meeting. This the basic tools we have to keep contact with parents and older children as well. We also use WeChat group and other software to share experiences and send out informations as well.
We start the digital school with high school first since originally we also planed to start high school one week earlier than grade school. Our high school colleagues worked very hard to pull a timetable together.
The beginning principles are we would not start to teach main lesson at the first place since we understand main lesson needs lots of interact and face to face experience and atmosphere. Also at that time we had no idea how this will last.
The second principle is we do not want to have a full time table to keep the students on line for so long time. We would rather leave sometime for themselves to plan. We try to use the timetable to keep the healthy rhythm of the day. So we have two time physic exercised led by the sports teachers on line, one at the beginning of the day and one in the afternoon. From 9:00 in the morning we have some academic learning such as Chinese literature, maths, physics and English etc. We would like to use this period of time to enforce and practice the basic knowledge and skills of the children. We also have once a week meetings with the children to discuss things they are interested and issues in the class like mentor's lesson. Another topic is we pick up the Coronavirus event and have a broad discuss and invite different people from different area to talk with them hoping they can do some research on different perspectives on this.
Things went ok so far. It is far less this virtual classroom comparing with real classroom. We also realize there is even shorter concentration span the children can maintain. And it is very much depend on the self discipline of the individual child. If we can view this as a chance to get children learn to getting responsible for their own learning, especially the older children.
In kindergarten our teachers also have zoom meetings with the parents and send them some recorded rhymes, finger rhymes, songs and games for proper age. The parents can always ask for help from the teachers and they share what they do at home to each other too.
Greetings to everybody and be well!