Emerald Christian College Year 3 teacher Amy Noffke with some of her on-site students.
Emerald Christian College Year 3 teacher Amy Noffke with some of her on-site students.

‘Excellent’ first day attendance for Emerald school

WHILE the majority of students across the region sit in classrooms or log in to virtual learning, a small handful are struggling to let go of school holidays.

Emerald Christian College principal Graeme Johnston said it had an excellent turnout for the first day of school and was hoping to see numbers increase through the week.

“Numbers yesterday were excellent,” he said.

“We had about 25 per cent on-site, another 50-60 per cent at home and the rest we weren’t able to contact, mostly high school students.

“Twenty-five per cent away is okay.”

The school has been using Google Classroom, an online based system, for the last three years, mainly with senior school.

Lachlan Grierson teaches his Year 9 math class via video call.
Lachlan Grierson teaches his Year 9 math class via video call.

However, with the onset of coronavirus and the move to online learning, Emerald Christian College expanded the system and now being used by all year levels.

“We’ve taken it all the way down to Year 1, who can now use it at home,” Mr Johnston said.

“We started a month ago and because we’re not doing it through a single website, nothing has overloaded or crashed.”

He said a laptop hire scheme was provided for parents and teachers would regularly contact students and parents to ensure learning continued.

“It’s really picking up the stragglers, the kids who haven’t realised the holidays are over or if there’s not quite the supervision at home that lends itself to this type of learning,” Mr Johnston said.

“That’s the main issue but we’ll support parents through that.”

Senior school has adapted to university style learning, with a lecture followed by tutorials throughout the week to ensure students are understanding and absorbing the information.

Year 3 teacher Amy Noffke yesterday had four of 13 students in the classroom, although had 100 per cent attendance overall.

Year 3 teacher Amy Noffke with on-site students.
Year 3 teacher Amy Noffke with on-site students.

“I guess I had this big fearfulness that I was going to be full of barriers and kids not being able to log on but I had everyone online,” she said.

Ms Noffke has implemented different learning tools, usually used for behaviour management, but is now providing an open line of communication between her and parents at home.

While some students are using video calls to engage with their teachers, Ms Noffke has opted to prerecord lessons, walking through step by step.

“The kids in the classroom are getting pretty much identical to what the kids at home are getting, but they just have me to guide them,” she said.

“I set them a bit of a timetable whereas the kids at home are a bit more flexible.”

Although she’s eager to see all her students back in the classroom, Ms Noffke is excited to see what they achieve through online learning.

“I’m excited and eager but I’m also nervous,” she said.

“If I don’t do it well now, its me who has to catch them up later.

“But some students are completely embracing it and love using Google Classroom.”

Desks had been spread out to abide by social distancing requirements and Mr Johnston said the classrooms and school facilities were cleaned more regularly to ensure cleanliness on-site.


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