How to build resilience in our schools by deepening connections between learners, teachers, and our communities

This is the story of South Melbourne Park Primary School in Victoria and how their teaching and learning rapidly evolved throughout one of the world's longest lockdowns. During this period, the school have had to be agile and constantly evolve teaching and learning to align with their five cultural values.

A connected-class model supports a focus on student values during uncertain times

As the school faces the uncertainty of these difficult times, they need to continue to be flexible. For instance, teachers may contract the virus, groups of students may be affected by attending events together such as birthday parties, or the whole school may be locked down. These shifting scenarios have impacts on the workload of teachers, so finding a solution for seamless transitions between face-to-face teaching, in-person teaching, hybrid learning, and remote learning is front of mind for SMPPS and for all Australian principals.

Through a connected-class model, SMPPS has created the capacity to manage these scenarios. A critical part of the connected-class model was identifying the right technology to support their pedagogy and focus on their student values, which are to:

  • Be curious
  • Be involved
  • Be leaders
  • Be a team
  • Be connected

Enabling students to interact, collaborate, and connect with the most effective and engaging tools

It was therefore important that the learning designed by teachers could be used flexibly across all possible scenarios, including face to face, in-person learning, hybrid learning, and remote learning at home. The school chose SMART Board interactive displays for their classrooms and Lumio software as part of their teaching and learning solution.

The teachers could create content and design learning that was displayed in the classroom on the SMART Board and simultaneously seen by students on their devices at home, and access on-demand lessons. Importantly, the software enabled students to interact, collaborate, and connect with that content through what the students called “Hello SMART”.

The teachers did not have to design on paper and convert to digital: they could prepare their lessons once. The Lumio software made the transition between classroom and remote learning seamless.

“Lumio helped me change the engagement of my students by actually allowing them to be present and active listeners and participants in my lessons,” Hasnaa Hamid, a teacher at South Melbourne Park, said.

New learning spaces inspire a new generation of curious minds

South Melbourne Park Primary, located close to Melbourne’s CBD, is an innovative school with a vision to inspire a new generation of curious minds. As a new and growing school, it organises the students into multi-age cohorts. Surrounded by inspiring new learning spaces, the teachers group the students into literacy, numeracy, enquiry, passions and home groups.

However, when the lockdowns began, the questions became: How to sustain these best practices the school had implemented? How to keep students at the heart of the matter, to listen to student voice, to ensure the social and emotional wellbeing of their students? How to create engaging and authentic learning experiences where children experience purposeful and powerful learning that sparks and provokes curiosity every day?

Over the period of the lockdowns, the teachers created lessons for the students in Lumio. Over time they realised that starting the day with a “fun” activity engaged the students immediately. They focused on making social connections through “live lessons” each day. Lumio was also used for emotional check-ins.

“I'm really proud of my teachers, right from the get go,” Principal Rosemary Cosentino said. “They put their heads down and they started to think of how they were actually going to teach these children when they didn't have them face to face.

Building knowledge around content in Lumio by SMART

They built knowledge around content with students. Lumio enabled the teachers to provide whole-class or individual feedback. Using inbuilt tools such as Shout It Out, Monster Quizzes, games, mind-mapping, and graphic organisers enhanced the sharing of ideas and learning. Student work could be celebrated and student contributions were validated, reducing the sense of being alone when in a remote-learning setting.

Students were still able to have a voice through regular student executive meetings. These students' perspectives were sought regarding their lockdown experiences in interviews incorporated into one of a series of videos entitled “Connections that Matter”, which has been shared globally. The students commented that their “best mates are classmates” and being able to be connected during the lockdown mattered. Through the Lumio tools, they felt deeply connected with their teachers and classmates, especially when they shared personal moments. They also felt less isolated when they “could actually see my teacher’s face”.

“[Lumio] was useful particularly in having a gauge of how the students were feeling,” teacher Paul Dobney said. “We used the zones of regulation and used the Shout It Out function to assess how the students were feeling on a day-to-day basis.

South Melbourne Park Primary have always been aware that learning does not just happen at school and have therefore connected strongly with their school community. During the lockdown, they met online with parents and carers on a regular basis to partner and support them in the process of remote learning. They also collaborate regularly as a staff and have engaged in professional learning and training in new technologies to raise the bar and inspire each other to keep a step ahead.

South Melbourne Primary School is an inspiration to us all.

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South Melbourne Primary School uses Lumio activities daily to create stronger connections with their students. Engaging lessons and activities are available for free for teachers everywhere to connect with.

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