Letter to HFI students-12,Feb.|致华附国际部全体学生的一封信
I hope you and your families are all keeping well, mentally and physically, during these difficult times. The situation with the coronavirus right now is unique and presents great challenges: for daily life, for work, and of course for education. Like other schools, we have been planning how to cope with the situation and ensure that you keep up with your learning during these difficult times. I'm writing this email now to make you aware some of these plans and what will be happening over the coming weeks.
School was supposed to start again, as you will know, on 10 February (this week). Initially, this was delayed to 17 February, though this date has now changed again. 17 February, however, remains the 'start' date inasmuch as that is when online teaching will begin. Your teachers should have shared with you study assignments and tasks for this week, to help you keep up with your learning and to prepare for the online classes next week. The earliest date that school will begin remains uncertain, which means online classes will continue for some time. We (teachers, non-teaching staff, and you, the students) therefore need to work hard to make sure the online classes are effective.
Online classes are, of course, very different from regular classes, and teachers at HFI, like many of you, are less familiar with this kind of learning. However, as befits the mission of HFI, we are embracing these challenges and are excited about overcoming them and continuing to provide you with high quality education. There will, of course, be many difficulties and problems along the way, and teachers will be in regular contact with you to get feedback about what is working and what can be improved. At this time, it is important for you to see the challenges as difficulties to overcome, and to realise that HFI teachers and staff are doing the very best that they can.
In order to ensure that online classes can be given effectively, we have subscribed to two platforms. We have used these platforms successfully already to hold staff meetings as we plan for the online classes. Many of your teachers will already have reached out to you through these platforms, and those who haven't should do so this week to trial them and ensure they will be successful for online classes. Teachers will choose which of these two platforms works best for their classes, and will keep the other as a back-up, so be prepared to use both.
Your teachers will be taking different approaches to online classes, depending on the subject and their own teaching style. In general, teachers will be giving you more 'offline' work than normal, since for online classes most of the learning is going to happen before the online sessions, with the online sessions themselves used to clarify, give further detail or information, or to answer questions. Please make sure you complete all the offline work that is set, and remember that it is not the same as homework, since it is often the primary means of learning rather than a simple reinforcement of learning.
The schedule for online classes will broadly follow the regular timetable. The schedule is the same each day. This routine will make it easier for you to engage fully with the classes. According to this schedule, there is a shortened lunch, which might be a bit difficult to get used to; however, getting through the lessons in a shorter time period will help you complete the offline work more effectively. There are no double periods in this schedule, and all classes start on the hour. It depends very much on the approach of the teacher and what works best for the class and the content. A shorter online session means more time is available for offline work. It also gives you and the teacher more time to communicate via other means.
I said that teachers will be seeking regular feedback. I will also be reaching out to everyone - both teachers and students - to get feedback and understand what works (so I can let other teachers know) and what doesn't (so I can try to help fix it). Please feel free to contact me at any time if you want to give feedback which you think would be helpful. One way to do this is by email. Another way to do this is directly, via an online meeting. If you wish to meet me for a session, either individually or with other students, please send me a message and I will arrange it.
You are probably concerned about assessment during this period. Summative assessment is of course going to be difficult. Summative tests are not going to be possible, but other summative assessment such as written essays or reports are still possible. Teachers are likely to use more formative assessment than usual, in order to gauge how well you are doing with the online classes and to get feedback on how they can improve. The next grading period is still a long way away, though teachers may have to use formative assessment to count for that grading period. Teachers will readjust their assessment plans when they are sure of the return to school date.
I hope you enjoy the online classes as much as you enjoy the regular classes at HFI. To reiterate, feel free to get in touch with me, at any time, if you have any questions or concerns or feedback.
Affiliated High School of South China Normal University