In January 2019, just 5% of the UK workforce worked from home; three months later we saw a steep incline to 45% working remotely.
We have come to expect rapid change – in some respects demand a faster paced world. Constant connectivity through smartphones and instant online access to all knowledge. Online shopping and social media.
The rise of modern professions like app design and digital marketing strategists. Not to mention the disappearance of high street staples like Blockbusters and Woolworths.
Despite our evolution, this last year has tested just how fast we can adapt.
Schools more than most organisations are at the forefront of these changes. Classes at International School Aberdeen (ISA) have transitioned with teachers and students meeting online, breaking into small discussion groups, submitting work, and receiving oral and written feedback all without entering the building.
A range of digital tools have become routine. Part of everyone’s working day; IT is no longer a separate subject – it is embedded in every subject.
All parts of ISA’s community have embraced very different ways of interacting and connecting across the school.
Teachers not only teach via Google Classroom, but they also gather online in place of physical classes and meetings and use chat rooms to collaborate throughout the day, learning from each other how best to meet the technological and pedagogical demands of the new virtual environment.
ISA parents come to virtual Parent Teacher Conferences and online information sessions. Speakers and events are virtual, and prospective families attend our open days from the comfort of their own homes.
At ISA, theyhave never lost sight of the fact that healthy communities, and positive learning environments are always built on the quality of human relationships. Technology is a tool, not the main attraction. This is evident from the school’s Virtual Open Days.
Prior to attending an ISA Virtual Open Day, families will have already talked to the friendly admissions staff, Krista and Autumn.
The online session includes videos you can select, a virtual tour and online question and answer sessions with relevant staff. If you want to learn more or apply, a one-to-one conversation is scheduled with either the Elementary or Middle/High school principal.
From there you will be placed in the care of ISA’s full-time counsellor, who will personally see your family through the process of transition to a new school. She remains in close contact through those vital first few weeks, but when the transition is complete, families now have either the classroom teacher (Elementary) or a Middle/High school advisor they can contact at any time.
The Parent Teacher Organisation also organises parent ‘buddies’ to make sure it is not just your child who feels supported.
Virtual Open Days won’t allow you to experience our superb facilities directly – the 21st century campus, with pool, theatre, gyms, two-storey library, science and design labs, the specialist art, music and drama studios, the spacious classrooms, the wide and welcoming corridors and the incredible outdoor spaces – nor the chance to meet staff face to face. But they do give you a sense of the level of care that makes ISA special.
ISA recognises there is nothing quite like meeting in person, however there are one or two gains. Savings in travel time, opportunities to customise sessions, the flexibility and comfort of engaging from home and of course, the ability to review key material later. Although these gains do not quite make up for personal connection, ISA recreates the personal touch as much as possible using a variety of online tools.
ISA is proud of how it has adapted in the last year. The latest family survey revealed 95% of parents were coping well with the virtual learning routines and 98% confirmed they had access to the information they needed.
They told the school that their children were “enjoying the level of work given”, appreciated the “interesting optional extras”, and were pleased that online “lessons … run smoothly.” Others commented that “we are very grateful for where we are at the moment” and “it’s fantastic and we are so grateful the kids aren’t falling behind”.
To make all of this possible, ISA has undergone a technological revolution in the last year. Every student from Kindergarten to Grade 12 (P1 to S6) has access to their own computer – in all but the last two grades, one issued by the school.
But this is not what ISA parents talk about when asked to give feedback. Overwhelmingly, it is the quality of the care, the positive relationships their children have with teachers and the responsiveness of all staff to queries and concerns.
ISA understands that coping with unprecedented change takes more than just technical skills and technology. It takes resilience.
With its small class sizes, excellent school to family communications, and first-rate learning, language and counselling support, your child will receive the individual care and attention they need to prepare them to thrive in a globalised world.
We cannot predict what the next change or challenge will be, but it will happen. ISA is more than ready when it does.
Find out more about the school and upcoming virtual open days at the ISA website.