Lessons from Lockdown December 2020

The end of a year is always a time of reflection, and this year more so than most. The Covid-19 global pandemic resulted in most countries around the world going into some form of lockdown or “circuit break” – call it what you may – where households were effectively confined to their homes except for essential shopping and daily exercise.

To recap the SG experience, on 23rd January Singapore saw its first diagnosed case. On 7th February, MOH moved the Dorscon alert from yellow to orange and panic buying set in. On 21st March, Singapore saw its first two deaths from the virus and on 23rd March closed its borders to short term visitors. On 26th March entertainment venues were closed and, finally, on 7th April Circuit Break began with masks being made compulsory from 14th April.

Phase 1 “Safe Reopening” began on 1st June with SMMIS students back on campus, but on a weekly rotation with only 50% of students in at any one time. Phase 2 “Safe Transition” started on 19th June and allowed 100% of students on campus. Phase 3 “Safe Nation” is anticipated by the year end…

So, what did SMMIS learn from 7 weeks of home-based learning?

1. Wellbeing – wellbeing is at the heart of the SMMIS educational philosophy and this was a primary consideration. Anxiety, uncertainty, fear and isolation are valid concerns for young students and teachers alike. A key focus for staff has to be on enabling social interaction so students could stay connected with school friends and staff.

2. Preparation – Prevents Poor Performance. With foresight, 3 days of SMMIS@Home were trialled before the Pesach Holiday to give families a chance to understand the system requirements, to test it out and resolve technical issues.

3. Technology – Development of the SMMIS@Home platform was undertaken by RTG who moved SMMIS to Microsoft 365 and introduced Seesaw.

4. IT Support – timely assistance from approachable staff relieves a lot of parental/student/teacher stress so this was bolstered by increasing our in-house IT team.

5. Collaboration & Dialogue – open channels of communication between parents, teaching staff and students are paramount.

6. Screen Fatigue – It is exhausting to be on a screen all day so learning has to be broken up. A mixture of synchronous and asynchronous learning is required with creative use of technological resources.

7. Games, quizzes and interactive activities are key.

8. Pre-recorded videos allows for review and repetition for those who need more time to assimilate new concepts.

9. Incorporating different apps brings novelty and excitement to the experience (Purple Mash, Flipgrid, Nearpod, Kahoot etc.)

10. Staff Dedication – Powerful learning only happens when students are engaged, energetic and focussed. Teachers want nothing but the best for their students: academic achievement and smiling faces.

11. Student Resilience – SMMIS teaches a growth mindset which Circuit Break tested to the limit. Students learnt real life skills, executive functioning skills, IT literacy and most importantly resilience. Our students are all set for any future eventuality in this brave new world in which we find ourselves.

A follow-up SMMIS@home day on 11th November ensured that SMMIS are prepared for any future eventuality.