The COVID outbreak confronted schools all over the world with a harsh reality last school year: No one was prepared.
Despite that our teachers at SRIS accepted the challenge and dived into online teaching, working crazy hours to compensate for the lack of training in online teaching techniques. Not everything went perfect and the first lesson teachers learned: An online lesson is not a classroom.
“We did our best under the circumstances, but we were not happy. Students were learning something, alright, but the results were not meeting our high expectations in education quality.” explains Ms. Shelly Gupta, the school’s director. So she continues, “To teach at our usual quality level, we knew we needed a brand new concept.”
Over the summer break, Ms. Gupta pushed her team to come up with a concept that would allow them to teach well, no matter what the situation would be. To deal with all the extra organizational challenges the school was facing, she even created a new position – the Operation and Liaison Officer (OLO).
“Information about the COVID situation in Kyrgyzstan changed all the time”, explains Mr. Richard Heider, the new OLO. “We knew, we needed to be ready to either teach with social distancing and extra hygiene measures or even online if the pandemic situation becomes worse.”
So the SRIS team came up with a modular approach. They realized that using tools like Google Classroom would be beneficial for students even in normal school years, since it makes homework and revisions way more effective. “It is a lot of extra work for us teachers to collect and create all that extra online classroom content, but when we see how it improves our student’s learning and revision, it is worth it”, says middle school coordinator Aileen Dacumos.
Coming back to school from their summer vacation, the teachers of SRIS found themselves in a series of seminars improving their teaching techniques and online skills to be ready to teach effectively no matter what comes.