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Looking forward to a new academic year after reunion

24 Jun 2020

The opening of the second semester of this year was very special and made truly memorable, as the Junior High teachers of Huili School Shanghai made every effort to provide high-quality e-learning and varied learning resources, in order to guarantee the consistency and quality of pupils’ learning during the unusual period. As a silver lining, some of the practices and methods utilised during the e-learning period of the pandemic, have been retained and incorporated into classrooms, as they are still highly relevant and useful in lessons today. Returning to school, Junior High teachers and pupils have shown positive attitudes and the ability to adapt quickly to being in a physical learning environment again. This whole process reminds us that Huili members who embrace challenges and changes are best equipped to keep moving forward and  strive for excellence.   Steer the teaching process through periods of uncertainty

Daniel Wright Hui Housemaster It is natural in teaching that there will be unforeseen issues that arise from time to time. The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 further exacerbated the difficulty of teaching, but Huili teachers quickly adjusted, showing pupils ‘how to learn’ in the strange and difficult circumstances, in turn ensuring that meaningful learning could continue uninterrupted. Collaborative learning is always one of the regular forms of Huili classes. We were encouraged to make greater efforts to create opportunities for collaborative learning despite the physical separation caused by the epidemic. The high frequency of using the collaboration spaces in OneNote enabled our pupils to comment on each other’s work, learn from each other, and even have several debate contests held by Junior High Chinese teachers.

Voice from Huili Community The sudden outbreak of the pandemic prevented children who could have been sitting in the classroom from returning to school in time, but the school made timely adjustments and enabled smooth online teaching. Prompt feedback proactively collected from both pupils and parents allowed teachers to adjust their schedules, courses and assignments. As a result, the e-learning period was as fulfilling and productive as it could be. Ms. Wang, our music teacher, even managed to organise our ensemble musicians to play together online, making the impossible possible during our time apart, which let them improve their musical performance skills and enjoy collaborating together despite being physically apart.——Mother of Tony, Xian House Everything seemed to be on pause as coronavirus spread across the world. We all continue to face unprecedented challenges, whether we are parents or children. As parents, we were very anxious at first, but the implementation of down-to-earth and detailed actions shown in The Week Ahead has made me feel much more comfortable and positive throughout this difficult time. "So, all a man could win in the conflict between plague and life was knowledge and memories". Albert Camus wrote this in his book, The Plague. During this epidemic, our children gained much knowledge and many unforgettable memories due to the proactive efforts of the school and the devotion of its teachers. Many thanks!——Mother of Seven, Li House   Continue effective teaching after returning to school

Penny Pan Junior High Chinese Teacher The consistency and completeness of a teaching plan guarantees the value of the teaching practice, whether it is used in online learning or physically in the classroom. According to any given subject’s characteristics, subject teachers formulate review plans to fill learning gaps and consolidate what they have learned via tests. Additionally, the online collaboration capabilities that pupils sharpened during the e-learning period are the icing on the cake in all sorts of teaching activities. For example, pupils still often hold group meetings on the Teams platform to have debates and rehearse speeches. Various co-curricular resources developed during this period also continuously provide them with more opportunities for open exploration. Upon returning to school, Huili’s teachers and pupils have quickly returned to their normal states while devoting themselves to various classes and activities, despite having been far away from each other for a long time. It is the direct interaction between teachers and pupils that touches us most in the learning process.

Prepare for the upcoming summer vacation

Isabelle Charrot-Grinsdale Head of Arts Before the e-learning period ended, the academic team were already having ongoing conversations about how to make the most of what time would be left of ‘face-to-face' classroom learning after returning to school. As teachers, knowing we would have limited time left in the classroom this academic year meant we needed to prioritise key content and skills. Referring to our curriculum intentions and our skills progression plans, we focused on what would be needed in each of our subjects upon our pupils’ return. In performing arts for instance, we streamlined the content of our units, ‘flipping’ the learning where we could during e-learning period  and setting project-based assignments accordingly. On their return, pupils have been enthusiastic about being able to be creative together and to be ‘hands-on’ in arts lessons. They have welcomed the opportunity to explore ideas practically and they have quickly remembered our much-missed classroom experience with practical exploration. Over the semester break we will set our pupils creative challenges to keep them inspired and enthusiastic ready for semester 1 in 2020. "After returning to school, the feeling of meeting my caring teachers and accommodating classmates again in person is miraculous, and my joy cannot be described accurately through words. I believe that the e-learning process has helped me a lot. For example, I have learned how to search for contents or subjects that I am interested in as an independent learner. We can now use the skills acquired during the e-learning period in our summer break, as well to facilitate our instant group discussion on subject topics. This would make our learning far more effective and would help us to have a more fruitful summer vacation. "——Cooper, Li House "There are many similarities between the e-learning period and the upcoming summer break: in terms of place and time, we are not controlled by school regulations in both scenarios. We can use time management skills learned during the e-learning period to study actively rather than passively."——Robert, Xian House   Maintain pupils’ wellbeing during the special period

Brian Curd Head of Wellbeing Throughout the e-learning period, pupils gained many positive benefits, including building their independent learning skills, improving their grit and meta-cognition, and becoming more mature. At the same time, spending such a long period of time away from school, their teachers and peers was stressful for many pupils. The main focus after returning to the school was to build upon the positive aspects of pupils’ e-learning experience while at the same time focusing on pupils’ mental health, socialisation, and wellbeing. As pupils returned to school during the first week, they were immediately given the opportunity to meet our school counsellor and have wellbeing lessons focused on viewing the COVID-19 crisis in a positive way, highlighting the example of how Huili pupils demonstrated our values and sense of being global citizens throughout the experience. Subject classes helped acclimate pupils socially by focusing on collaborative projects. Pupils enjoyed being back with their peers, working together on common goals and the effect was immediate as pupils regained their enthusiasm for Huili very quickly. It is now important for pupils to reflect on the first half of 2020, thinking about both their strengths and areas of development from e-learning. As pupils study during the summer holiday, whether reviewing or extending their knowledge independently, they are encouraged to think about what they learned about themselves over the e-learning period and use it to foster their growth this summer. Pupils are also motivated to think about the feeling of community they felt upon their return to school, and to remember that the same feeling will be waiting for them when they return in September. Finally, it is important for pupils to pay attention to the epidemic control measures still in place, to take time to rest and focus on their mental health during the summer holiday, knowing that even though they are by themselves, Huili pupils are never alone.   Look forward to the new academic year

Laura Ge Head of Junior High The teaching team of Junior High School will be further expanded after the summer vacation. All new teachers who previously held school leadership positions have rich teaching experiences and excellent teaching abilities. During interviews, I often ask these candidates the same question: "Why do you want to give up your current leadership position and choose Huili?" Most of them are attracted by our inclusive culture, the professionalism of our teaching staff and the opportunity to thrive as a teacher, no matter where they are from. At the beginning of September, Huili Junior High School will welcome a new batch of grade 6 pupils. At Huili, we firmly believe that, “Nothing in the world is difficult if one sets one’s mind to it.” We hope these children are ready to seize every opportunity and meet every challenge. The Huili community has made concerted efforts to respond to the challenges of the 2019-20 school year which was full of changes and adjustments but also achievements. Let us look forward to the new academic year with confidence.