Understanding. Caring. Uplifting. These are just a few of the words Arshia Kothiwala uses to describe her ACG Parnell College teachers during lockdown.
Although the Year 10 student admits she felt “overwhelmed and sad” when Auckland suddenly shifted into Level 4, she says the reality of the virtual classroom has been resoundingly positive.
“This time around, the transition into online learning has been extremely seamless and carefree,” says the enthusiastic teen.
“The empathy and support given by the teachers has been amazing. They regularly check up on our mental health, check in about how our day is going, and make sure we understand and have completed our work. They’re mindful about not giving us too many digitally orientated tasks to give our eyes a rest, and also ensure we have small breaks between classes to get outside for fresh air. They are understanding, caring and uplifting and have created a really good study environment for us.”
When it comes to lockdown learning it’s business as usual at ACG Parnell College, with the coursework for most subjects remaining, for the most part, unchanged.
“Because the teachers are so well-organised, they’ve been able to teach us the same content but just tailor it to the online learning environment. For example, in maths, we’ve been learning statistics and during one lesson, instead of just taking notes from a video or completing a worksheet, my teacher Ms. Van Zyl got us to create posters outlining all the different types of graphs and ways of displaying data. Applying our knowledge in different ways makes learning fun and engaging and encourages us to think outside the box.”
And it’s just as effective as the real thing.
“During online learning we are learning just as much as we do when we’re in class, just in a slightly different way. By approaching our learning with a more creative lens, classes are a lot of fun. I enjoy unleashing my inner creative genius!”
In fact, there’s one particular subject that Arshia is enjoying even more than she usually does.
“I think our PE lessons have changed for the better because we have a new topic for online learning – cooking. I love cooking! It also means we get to take advantage of the utensils around us and we’re learning to care for our bodies in a different, but equally important, way.”
And while, like most teenagers, she is missing face-to-face communication with her teachers, classmates and friends, the virtual world still provides plenty of opportunities to socialise.
“Teachers put us in break out rooms to discuss topics we’ve been learning about, complete activities and even revise together. And outside of class time we catch up online to help each other understand things, remind each other what needs to be handed in, and generally support each other. This has really helped strengthen our class bond.
“ACG’s online learning programme is enjoyable and effective in so many ways. My greatest challenge has been staying focused while learning from home – a place that’s usually reserved for relaxing and being lazy! But there have been plenty of positives too. The experience has taught me to appreciate things I usually take for granted – stuff like spending time with my sisters, seeing my enthusiastic teachers online, and getting outside to shoot some arrows. Yes, I’m a little bit of an archery geek!”