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ACG Tauranga is open for learning – a fact for which students, Chelsea and Toby Good, are extremely appreciative. As one of the school’s deputy head prefects, Chelsea is currently in her first year of A Level study, which is a crucial time in her high school education. Her brother, Toby, is also part of the senior campus and a member of the Year 10 cohort.
As one of ACG Tauranga’s top Year 12 scholars, Chelsea was originally quite apprehensive when she heard that schools were set to close due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“I think it’s safe to say I was considerably panicked initially! The thought of trying to get through the complex AS Level syllabus at home seemed a bit daunting,” explains Chelsea. “However, I have been steadily reassured by the support and resources provided by ACG Tauranga, and it turns out my online learning environment nearly exactly mimics that of school.”
With closures looking imminent, the Good family made the decision to keep Chelsea and Toby at home before the official lockdown came into effect. This meant they began to focus on individual learning prior to ACG’s implementation of virtual classrooms – an experience Chelsea found to be quite isolating.
“Once ACG’s online classes began, it was like a weight lifted! It had all been extremely well-prepared; on the very next day after schools were shut down, we picked right back up from where we had left off. I no longer had to worry about whether I was making enough progress, or if I would get left behind, and it didn’t appear that my learning would be negatively impacted at all.
“I have many friends from other schools complaining about the lack of work they are receiving, but I was not surprised to find this wasn’t an issue for me. ACG has charged ahead, as per usual, and both Toby and I feel as though we are none the more disadvantaged from learning at home as opposed to being in the classroom.”
Toby, who was primarily concerned about the consequences of school closures on any upcoming Cambridge assessments, agrees.
“I was very relieved when I heard about the online process ACG was providing. As our exams are steadily getting closer, it meant I wouldn’t lag behind. It also meant that because remote learning is very much self-directed, I would be held accountable for ensuring I managed both my workload and my study – a valuable lesson for the future,” he says.
And while adapting to a virtual classroom environment has meant a different style of school day, the students feel the move to online learning has been a positive one.
“It’s been different, that’s for certain. However, the school has ensured a seamless transition to this online forum, easing us into it even before the school closed,” Chelsea says.
Online learning does have its challenges and the Good siblings admit that for them, the lack of physical face-to-face contact is proving to be the most difficult. As a result, the value of interacting with teachers and classmates has become even more significant.
“I like to be able to ask questions so the fact that we don’t have quite as much one-on-one time with teachers as we would in a normal classroom setting has been hard,” Toby states. “However, I really appreciate the interactive format and the way all my teachers have continued to make themselves available throughout the day. I’ve been able to contact several of my teachers out of the ‘video team’ environment and they always respond and help me. Our teachers are great.”
“Nothing compares to live interactions with your teachers, whether it be in person or online,” Chelsea confirms. “Just having the ability to request extra explanations, and benefit from the queries of your classmates.
“Although we are provided with all the academic aspects of school-life, I miss the social parts which cannot be replicated from home. Already I am noticing the difference between being in the physical presence of my classmates and teachers, so to have these live interactions is extremely important. It breaks up the online work to be able to have a live conversation with someone else, even if it is via a screen.”
As to the benefits of online learning, Chelsea and Toby are finding that their coursework focus has actually sharpened with this new format, due in part to the absence of outside disruptions during lockdown conditions.
“I think the biggest advantage of online schooling is the lack of distractions and consequent productivity resulting from this,” Chelsea believes. “We are making significant progress through the syllabus despite learning from home, at a pace I am extremely impressed with.”
Toby echoes these sentiments adding, “I do not feel as though I’ve fallen behind, in fact my education has evolved. And I like how I can be a bit chill and set my own pace – mornings are definitely not as hectic and it’s nice not racing to catch the bus every day.”
Chelsea concludes by saying, “My family and I are extremely thankful for the organisation of ACG Tauranga under Ms Kilian’s leadership. I know I speak on behalf of everyone when I say it has been an impressively smooth transition from physical lessons to working from home, with very little disruption to our education as students.”