Like students across the State, St Norbert College pupils spent the last teaching week of Term One learning from home, with the option to return to campus or continue working from home when Term Two commenced.
With the disruption to routine in the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a greater reliance than normal was placed on remote learning programs, as well as digital technologies, and students, staff and parents alike faced uncertainty for how school would operate as the year progressed.
With many St Norbert students returning to campus in the first week of Term, and others engaging with their learning, classmates and teachers online, the College asked some students to share their reflections on this unusual chapter in their school life.
Year 12 student Courtney McCrostie, studying a Certificate III in Music Industry and Drama, started the term learning from home.
“At first remote learning was very daunting, however with the guidance and support from our teachers, parents and fellow peers the transition has taken place with minimal difficulties,
“The online platform ‘Teams’ is easy to use; I really like that we can voice call with our teachers like we would in a normal class setting,” Courtney said.
“When technical difficulties arise, they are addressed relatively quickly,
“It has been great to be able to give input and suggestions to our teachers about things that can benefit us and make the transition easier,
“We take for granted the ability to be in a physical schooling environment.”
Courtney said she had enjoyed the independence in learning at her pace, learning how to adapt to a changing environment, including skills suited to an increasingly digitally-reliant world, and the opportunity to continue to interact in classes.
She said that the biggest challenges were not being with her friends in person, keeping on track with her time management, and some College events being cancelled or postponed.
“In Term Two our virtual instrumental lessons will start up, so we will get one-on-one tuition again,” Courtney said.
“School continues to give us opportunities to develop, especially in the performing arts,
“For example ‘Drama Online’ has been offered to us – although new to us, we have already watched a few productions, which I have really enjoyed so far,
“These are brought to us by National Theatre Live; I’m mostly just taking this time to focus on both my studies and develop my piano playing skills,” she said.
Theresa Titus, a Year 12 student who returned to campus in the first week of term, was aware that the pandemic would lead to Year 12s missing out on some of the rites of passage that are often a part of the final year of school – but she said teenagers in other parts of the world would trade places in an instant.
“It is more difficult for Year 12s to enjoy school with everything being cancelled,
“However, this situation has taught me that seeing friends, classmates, teachers and talking about things, and enjoying the normal recess and lunch we’ve always had, is an advantage in itself – something that I know other teenagers around the world would trade for right now.”
“Although we were connected with remote learning, seeing everyone face to face again, even with separated tables at school, has been refreshing after an unexpected break,” Theresa said.
As the daughter of two nurses, fellow St Norbert College student Rhiannon Cox also returned to school on day one of term.
“It’s a bit lonely and a bit strange because not many people returned in the first week, but it is nice to be back at school,’’ Rhiannon, in Year 8, said.
“I made friends with a Year 7 who started remote learning at school, so I’m talking to lots of students I might usually not speak to, so that has been good,
“I’m looking forward to when my friends come back. They are thinking of coming back soon because the cases are very slow at the moment – with no new recorded cases in WA,
“It’s going to be a really long journey to get everything back to normal, but I’m kind of OK with it.’’
Meanwhile, Year 8 student Sharie Fernandez was continuing to learn from home at the start of Week Two.
While she acknowledged that remote learning had been difficult to adjust to, there were also positives.
“In all honesty I’m very happy to have experienced something unique like this within my St Norbert high school life,”
“I enjoy not having to stress about waking up earlier to get ready and having free time on my hands if I’m ahead with the schoolwork – I also enjoy getting to spend more time with my younger brother since he goes to a different school,” Sharie said.
“So far I’ve really enjoyed science because of the uplifting environment we have in that class while on Microsoft Teams,”
“I also like doing PE at home because I get to choose what physical sports I get to do daily and even do them with my brother every once in a while,” she said.
“I’ve loved getting to experience something like online school but hopefully not for too long because I miss the environment, activities and feeling of being around my peers at St Norbert.’’