As the national lockdown struck, teachers throughout the country were challenged to change their methodologies practically overnight. At Stanford Lake College, the school recognised and continues to be grateful for its fortunate position in terms of both pupils’ and teachers’ access to the internet, resources and technological devices. With this, the Senior Management Team sprang into action and took the notion that we cannot allow times of adversity to derail our goals and journeys. As the Stanford pupil body was fully equipped to be taught online, the teachers didn’t take their feet off the gas for one moment, and the school plunged immediately into the unfamiliar world of online learning.
Even the least tech-savvy teachers were thrown into this virtual world – Google Classroom and lessons via Zoom quickly became the norm and their computer mastery skills were pushed to their limits. New timetables were put together and absentee record-keeping was adjusted to mould to this alternative style of learning. The first couple of days naturally proved challenging, as teachers and pupils eased into the idea of conducting and receiving lessons through this new medium.
The journey thereafter was also not without bumps in the road. Connectivity issues, data depletion, crashing laptops, technology blips and power outages became daily frustrations. There were certainly low points for pupils and teachers alike, but the highlights of lockdown learning have been nothing short of admirable and inspiring.
Stanford pupils have put together virtual assemblies and have readily stepped forward to offer videos of motivation to their peers. We have seen pupils forego receiving birthday gifts and instead have asked for baking supplies to provide cupcakes to those working on the frontline. We have seen pupils engage in virtual group projects and even give live presentations to their classmates on how the lungs and heart work, using cow organs to demonstrate! Pupils have remained committed to their sports houses, keeping the spirit alive and evoking friendly competition by participating in an online dance competition. Two students have taken part in gruelling cycling challenges without leaving their properties, pushing themselves mentally and physically whilst raising funds for food parcels. Staff have broadened their horizons, tuning into free webinars about leadership and sports training, and sports coaches have joined their teams for afternoon workout sessions via Zoom.
One of Stanford’s Grade 8 pupils, Yash Kalan, has shown admirable dedication towards his academics during lockdown. His maths teacher, Mr Ceronio, started using a platform called Siyavula at the start of lockdown and encouraged his learners to make use of this platform whilst continuing to provide them with online lessons, worksheets and assessments. By being committed to the daily structure and managing his time accordingly, Yash used the opportunity to broaden his knowledge in Maths and managed to self-study the whole of his Maths curriculum during lockdown!
Through every darkness, it is important to find light, and the positive attitudes displayed by the Stanford Lake College pupil body have certainly shone a lot of brightness on the unfamiliar circumstances we all find ourselves in. Lockdown has been tackled by our pupils with enormous maturity, with many students seeing it as an opportunity for personal growth, a time of reflection and a chance to hone skills in areas where they are passionate.
All of this said, it was wonderful to see the faces of our matric students as they returned to school this morning. Face-to-face teaching will not be taken for granted again and we look forward to offering our matric pupils as many of the rites of passage in their final year as we are able to. As the rest of the pupils are phased in and we all adjust to the newest of new “normals” that 2020 has brought us, Stanford Lake College’s students can most certainly look back on this time with immense pride.