16 May 2020
With school set to go back for students in years K-2 in ACT primary schools this week, teachers all over the ACT have been working hard to set up their classrooms and prepare for their student’s return. We spoke to Yasmin Edgerley, a year 1 teacher at Torrens Primary school, to find out how she, and the Torrens Primary School year 1 teaching team are feeling about the first week back.
Can you describe what a team-teaching environment is?
We have a huge room that’s shared amongst 3 classes and 4 teachers. It allows us to collaborate and give the children a learning environment where they can work together and constantly collaborate. The team-teaching environment has been incredible for us, we can bounce ideas off each other, it allows so much flexibility and we can share the workload.
Can you explain what changes you’ve made to the classroom for the kid’s return?
Due to COVID-19, we are making an effort to change aspects of our regular classroom set up, for example, limiting the materials that kids will share. At the beginning of the term the kids had communal pencil tins but now we’ve been messaging families, asking those who can to bring in their own pencils and materials to help stop the spread and minimise risks.
What will your priorities be when kids come back to the classroom on Monday?
We’re working really hard to ensure they’re coming back to a familiar, safe environment where they feel comfortable. One of the main things we’ll have to work on is hygiene practices, teaching them not to not cuddle their friends is going to be a challenge! But we’re feeling prepared and all the teachers are working together to make it happen. We’re also very focussed on setting them up for independence; It’s such an important thing for the kids at this age.
How does it feel that you’re going to have the students back on Monday?
It feels surreal! We’ve been seeing them each day in our video calls but it’s going to be so great to be able to see them in person again! Since everything happened so early in the year, we haven’t had the same chance to get to know them. We had just started to get them out of their shells when we had to switch to remote learning and they were just starting to get to know us and show their personalities! We’re so, so excited for them to come back and the parents have been telling us how eager the kids are as well. We really can’t wait to be reunited.
What was the highlight of remote learning for you?
In remote learning we had the kids answer questions or complete challenges, then send it through to us as videos. It was so great to see them making these. Sometimes they would send us a video where they tell us how much they’ve been missing us! Just the little things like that have really shown the community that we’ve created with this team-teaching environment, and even the greater Torrens Primary School as a whole, we’ve got such a great community here.
How did your class go with remote learning?
It’s been such a huge step forward for them in terms of independence. Our kids have just taken it on so well. It was important to us during home learning that we kept the same standard of work for them, we still wanted them to engage and be getting work that is valuable to them. We have an amazing team here and that really made all the difference, just to have everyone on the same page and working together and sharing ideas. The parents in our year group have also been great, there was always plenty of positive communication. The P&C has been so crucial to help us all communicate and engage during this time. I’m also very appreciative of the executive team here at Torrens Primary, they’ve been amazingly supportive during this entire time. The community really came together to make this a success.
Do you have a message for your students before you see them on Monday?
That I’m so excited to see you! We’re all so excited to see you and to start getting back to normal.