I have found myself in several conversations recently with teachers, parents and students, reflecting on what exactly is missing from children’s lives during this period of disruption, including its repercussions for on-campus learning.
Several themes reliably come up: structure, routine, engagement, attention … but, at a more fundamental level, underlying all of them is what, increasingly, I take to be the essential component of any truly successful learning experience: energy.
The ingredient that most easily gets lost when students are not physically attending lessons is energy. And it is energy that enlivens structure, that animates routine, that fuels engagement, and that powers attention. Energy enables you to activate your curiosity; energy provides a force-field in which concentration can be maintained; energy drives you on when the going gets tough; energy turns the herculean into the can-do.
Bringing energy to learning opportunities is perhaps the most important signature strength of great teachers because, without the energy they impart, the opportunity never really takes wing and the learner never really learns.
Knowing all this, I can appreciate how frustrated parents and students must be that they are not getting the chance to benefit from the energy that ICHK’s amazing teachers and Learning Support Assistants bring to in-person classes. There is no doubt that, try as they might, it’s hard for teachers and LSAs – or, indeed, students – to communicate and share the same energy online.
While still hoping that the wider situation allows for the return of more students to school more often, our intention, during these next several weeks, is to try to maximise the energy that teachers can inject into students’ learning while they are onsite. The goal is to provide a power boost that carries students through their online learning, until the next time we are able to accommodate them here in school.
We are exploring models to try to make the breaks between such boosts less long for students across the Year groups, and will share those with you once the final logistics have been agreed. We must, of course, remain within Government regulations, but we are hoping that we can “mix and match” in ways that maximise the boosts we can provide.
In the meantime, it is heartening – and energising – to have increased the number of students in school each day, and the teaching staff are much encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the students in class and, subsequently, online.