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Article courtesy of Gulf News
A study conducted in the US by global consultancy firm McKinsey within the school community during the fall months in 2020 revealed an acute sense of learning loss among students after they started their classes close to three months behind schedule. And while the study results were endemic to the US, the effects of the pandemic on students and resulting learning loss have been keenly felt across the globe.
The UAE education sector has always monitored global trends and tried to assimilate best practices as quickly as possible post-observation. The pandemic and the sense of learning loss felt by students and conveyed by their parents to staff was quickly analysed therefore, resulting in a host of individual premier UAE schools putting steps in place to mitigate the effects.
Student-teacher connect critical
At the Amity School Dubai, Principal, Sangita Chima says that despite the overnight disruption and abrupt move to a digital classroom environment, the learning process continued almost without a hitch, and believes that maintaining the connection between teacher and student is the first vital step in addressing learning loss. “Much like a ‘don’t give up’ mission, we believe in using all available means of communication in order to stay connected with the families in our school community,” says Chima. “We have altered our strategies and modified our learning programmes to ensure that learning loss is reduced to a considerable extent. Identifying students that need an extra hand by tracking achievement data, attendance and behaviour is key. These data driven indicators give teachers a heads up. Intensive tutoring within smaller targeted groups helps improve a student’s foundation skills. Accelerated learning in groups with ample time, instead of remedial teaching is another great way to support students that may have fallen back.”
Moving into smaller targeted groups also means improving the scope of free communication that acts as a learning enabler, something Michelle Choytooa, Inclusion Champion, Victory Heights Primary School in Dubai, stresses upon.
Communicate with your child
“Children have demonstrated great resilience through the pandemic, and switching to a new mode of learning for a large proportion of the 2019/20 academic year. While in some areas, children have not made the same level of progress as we would have expected, for the most part, attainment remains outstanding,” says Choytooa. “One area that we do feel the children have fallen behind, is in their ability to communicate their learning. A key focus for our school is the development of children’s oracy skills – and moving out of the classroom environment removed some of the structures that enabled them to do this as freely. So talk to your child — ask them about their learning — delve indepth into their answers, don’t accept closed responses – question them and challenge them.”
Dr Paul Richards, Superintendent, American School of Dubai, is a confirmed optimist who believes a lot was learned from the pandemic on coping with and mitigating learning loss within the community, while allowing students to become true well-rounded global citizens. Rounding off the discussion, he states, “There has been much attention on learning loss, and much debate. When using traditional measures, such as standardised tests, some loss in achievement or slowed growth rates may be identified. Direct intervention by teachers, using targeted literacy strategies, will help remedy any losses that are identified through a data analysis. However, much has also been gained during the pandemic, in the development of social and emotional skills. Let’s not lose sight of this silver lining.”
The following link provides guidance on dealing with stress, skills to combat, understanding and dealing with panicky thoughts, behaviours etc.
It is an online free 6 session stress control classes delivered by a Scottish clinical psychologist Dr Jim White. I hope it may be of use and relevance to some members of Teachers In UAE to share with your students:
The videos are available (from today, via that link) for a few days when they are released:
The six sessions are 90 minutes a session and will cover different topics. Participants are encouraged to watch all sessions, but participants can join at any stage for one or more session.
1. Session 1: Mon 8 Feb, 9am until Wed 10 Feb, 11pm.
2. Session 2: Thurs 11 Feb, 9am until Sun 14 Feb, 11pm.
3. Session 3: Mon 15 Feb, 9am until Wed 17 Feb, 11pm.
4. Session 4: Thurs 18 Feb, 9am until 11pm Sun 21 Feb, 11pm.
5. Session 5: Mon 22 Feb, 9am until Wed 24 Feb, 11pm.
6. Session 6: Thurs 25 Feb, 9am until Sun 28 Feb, 11pm.
Students to return to school from February 14.
The UAE never let the Covid-19 pandemic affect its education process. Even as schools shut as a precautionary measure against Covid-19, classes went online.
Now that the country is gradually recovering from the pandemic, education authorities are putting in place measures to help children return to schools.
>> Public schools
The Ministry of Education has announced the gradual and phased return of in-person classes for all academic levels in public schools across the emirates, starting from February 14.
In a statement, the ministry said that distance learning will remain available as an option until the end of the school year.
Hybrid learning, where students have a choice to combine both traditional classroom experiences or attend virtually from home, will remain available to offer further flexibility.
>> Abu Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee has approved the resumption of in-classroom education for all grades in Abu Dhabi schools from February 14.
E-learning is an option until the end of the school year.
All private schools in Dubai had reopened us usual after the winter break on January 3.
Parents can choose between in-person classes, virtual learning or hybrid for their wards.
Private Sharjah schools resumed classes for around 170,000 students earlier this month.
However, nearly 90 per cent remained in distance learning.
Parents can easily switch between their kids’ learning modes in the middle of the school year.