Since my last post on this site, my reflection after my first year at CIS, a lot has changed in my life. I got married, started a new position as a Learning Innovation Coach, had a child, lived through civil unrest in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong COVID pandemic restrictions.
Since the 2019-2020 school year, we have not had a regular year where students and teachers were able to enter the school campus for the entire school year. However, finally, this year, we have been on campus since April and we are able to end the school year by actually saying, “Have a nice break!” to the students, in person! This leads me to take a moment to reflect on the past few years about working with and through the pandemic in Hong Kong as a Learning Innovation Coach.
Fear. I think this was underlying everyone’s emotional and mental states. Fear of becoming sick, fear of not being able to live and work normally, fear of not knowing what kind of changes the government will impose at any point. Reading, watching, or listening to the daily press briefing at 4:30pm to hear statistics and new measures that may be put in place to fight the pandemic was a regular practice. How do we learn and teach at a time like this? The best we can.
Unlike the rest of the world, Hong Kong experienced some civil unrest just before the pandemic started. Because of this, our school was already testing out and trialing different remote teaching solutions. Google Hangouts was our first go solution and after Zoom became the industry standard, we mad the shift to using a new online platform. Simultaneously, we were rolling out and experimenting with Schoology for the upper primary school, and Seesaw for the lower primary school. As my role involves educational technology, how to support teachers, students and families, so that they can use a miriad of online tools to support their learning while simultaneously not overloading them was a tight rope we walked constantly.
Our communication with families and students focused on being empathetic and to let them know that they were not struggling alone. We offered webinars and online drop in hours via Zoom so that parents were able to log jump in to chat with us one on one or in small groups about challenges they were facing. My partner, Jane Wong (@MsJanePYP), and I collaborated with the technology team to begin a device loaning program to support families who did not have consistent access to technology for students to use at home. We also revamped our website, iSpace for Primary School, so that parents could visit to find tutorials, past webinars or other resources that they may want regarding digital citizenship and navigating technology at school.
Our work with faculty members was all about how can we make ourselves available to teachers whenever they needed help, regardless of the time of day. We created tutorials, held face-to-face drop-in sessions in cafes (with outdoor seating with masks on), and shared resources via a similar faculty-only site that included tutorials for both teachers and students that they could utilize in their classes. During this time period, Jane and I created over 120 tutorials for our community. Again, trying to empower the members of our community to find solutions to the challenges they face.
Have a nice summer, and here’s to starting the year off regularly in August!