Staff and Student Engagement In A Time Of Covid

Staff and Student Engagement In A Time Of Covid

February 22, 2022

Christ Church Secondary School has had a very successful year of strengthening staff and student engagement in spite of Covid-19 measures in 2020. Undergirded by the school’s vision to nurture purposeful leaders, thoughtful contributors and active learners, the school has always had these expectations of their students, that they should

- appreciate themselves and take ownership of their own growth

- Understand the need of others and contribute purposefully, and

- Demonstrate good work ethics, think critically, creatively and work collaboratively with others.

Strategic Goals 2020 and Covid-19

The school’s staff focus for 2020 comprised four key areas:

- Designing purposeful and progressive cohort experiences

- Creating choices within cohort experiences to challenge students

- Making every school activity a CCE (Character and Citizenship Education) lesson; and

- Strengthening monitoring and formative feedback to positively impact student learning

According to Principal, Mr David Lau, when Covid-19 hit after Chinese New Year, the school had to respond quickly and adhere closely to safe management measures as safety of the students and staff was the school’s key priority. Mass activities had to be aborted. The borders were soon closed to travellers and when Leave of Absence (LOA) was implemented on 23 March, many students and staff who travelled to Johor Bahru during the holiday period were affected.  Lessons had to be conducted online for local students stuck at home and in Malaysia.  Many teachers had to learn to teach online using various video conferencing platforms.

Innovations and Improvisations

However with challenges came the opportunity for innovation and Christ Church staff were quick to respond by doing things differently and helping each other to find solutions around the many issues that they faced. They experimented with planning SLS (Student Learning Space) lessons and conducted virtual lessons by pair-teaching with colleagues. There was an overhaul of the timetable from their usual four-day curriculum back to a five-day curriculum. Teachers ensured that learning activities were meaningfully conducted with only a maximum of 2 hours of screen time daily.

When the Covid-19 situation got more serious, all co-curricular activities and mass gatherings had to be cancelled. Students could not gather for the usual morning assembly in the school’s parade square.  This was when the school decided to provide live feed for the assembly proceedings which took place in both dry and wet weather. Morning assembly evolved to be a daily broadcast with a dedicated production crew to ensure that there were no technical hitches.

To entice the students to tune in punctually for morning assembly, key personnel of the school performed skits, introduced fun activities to engage them. Even the administrative staff showcased cooking demonstrations to meaningfully engage students during home-based learning.

Even when school resumed in April, the morning assembly routine continued to be carried out through pre-recorded presentation segments. Students were then exposed to participating in live presentations.

Students formed new habits and had to make changes to their lifestyle when safe distancing and new personal hygiene routines were introduced.

CCE progammes took the form of talk shows and these were broadcast live since all assembly talks were cancelled to prevent mass gathering.

The Chairman of the School Management Committee, Mr Andrew Tay pre-recorded his speech during Honours Day and was physically present during Graduation Day to encourage the Secondary Four students.

Certificates and awards were given out as the Principal and key personnel went class by class to honour the graduating students. For a sneak peek into how life changed for the students as the academic year wore on in 2020, watch the video below:

As for the teachers, nothing expressed their esprit de corps more strongly than their impressive score of 93 out of a scale of 100 on the Staff Engagement Survey administered by the Ministry of Education in 2020.

New Goals for 2021

The school’s new goals for 2021 include asking themselves 3 key questions:

- Why do we do what we do?

- How can we create more coherence in what we do?

- How can we empower and energise our students in what we do?

As a mission school, Christ Church Secondary intends to work further to unpack the school values of courage, compassion and curiosity for students, and to ensure that their vision for their graduates are fulfilled such that they will lead purposeful lives.

The staff’s hope for students to have the drive to excel, to be thoughtful contributors and active learners is best encapsulated in the diagram here:

Our CHRian Attributes

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