As members of the IB World, SMARTPREP and ManageBac are committed to helping students, educators and parents cope with the effects of COVID-19. Schools that are confronted with closure have needed to adapt, almost on the fly. The aim of this blog series is to provide a share point for the measures that are proving effective. We’re in this together.

I’m not an admin person, so this is the teacher’s view of the things we have in place to assist remote teaching and learning.

  • The Microsoft Suite and all the apps that go with it give us the ability to share stuff easily. The Teams app provides an easy forum for live classes, chat groups, meetings etc., and Zoom is being trialed for assessment situations.
  • In ManageBac, work for students can be set and submitted and when work is assigned, we message parents so they can keep track of what the students are doing. To make life easy all assignments are named – FORM: Title or SUMM: Title, so it is easy for admins to see the type of work students are doing.
  • Live lessons must be held at least once per 6-day cycle so that the students have access to ask direct questions and talk to us regularly.
About Gillian Williams

Gillian is a teacher at Keystone Academy, China, former member of the ES&S Curriculum Review Team, IB Senior Examiner and Team Leader for ES&S paper 1, workshop leader and member of the IB Global Mentoring Team, author of SMARTPREP IB ES&S, and co-author of the Oxford University Press IB ES&S Course Companion. Learn more about Gillian

  • Some of the regular school meetings have been re-introduced. For example, each grade level meets once a week to share what’s happening. This is done via Teams and an invite goes out the day before the meeting is scheduled to take place – that means it appears on everyone’s Microsoft calendars with a reminder.
  • We have had a few staff meetings – departmental, grade level and full staff meetings. They are largely informational and help us keep up with what the current situation is and how it is evolving.
  • A landing page has been designed by the school and is a shared excel spreadsheet – all teachers enter a brief outline of what they will be teaching in the coming week, and when they have a live lesson. This is shared with parents and students. It is the best way for everyone to know what is going on in different years and different classes.
  • The Dean of Students and students with positions of responsibility have a set a variety of challenges that are not linked to the academic measures we have put in place, for example log your daily exercises, share photos of family time, of pets and of cooking they have done.
  • There is a “Daily 10am Faculty Training & Office Hours” session on Teams so that teachers can ask IT for advice and help – this comes with a chat channel where we can post what has worked, or not!

Keeping everyone well informed and on the same page:

This is a significant obstacle, but the aim is to keep the “school day” as normal as possible.

  • We have staff spread around the globe, but the school insists that no matter what time zone you are in, everyone has to do a live lesson with each class per cycle. This means some of our staff are running “weird” daily schedules, e.g. 1am to 1pm, which is a major adjustment on their part.
  • Online departmental meetings happen at odd times as they have to be arranged to fit a 15-hour time difference.
  • We are expected to attend as many of the meetings as we can, but it is acknowledged that it is not always possible – with that in mind, all meetings are recorded and show up on the Teams chat in the appropriate place!
  • The admin sends out regular reminders to teachers about upcoming deadlines and meetings. As these change weekly, this is very useful.
  • A weekly “Magazine” goes to the whole school community to showcase what is going on and to update everyone on the most recent government requirements.
  • A weekly memo goes out on Sundays, outlining what is ahead that week and giving us a heads- up concerning longer-term activities – such as when reports are due.
  • As far as the students, the poor things get too many emails and some get lost. We are trying to help them by:
    • Taking attendance for all live classes. Absences are reported to the appropriate “school office” and they call the parents to let them know.
    • Posting deadlines for any work that needs to be submitted to the teachers. Again, anything missing gets reported to the parents – ours are REALLY good at chasing their children for missing work

You can read Part 1 of this blog here.

Help students study from home. Request free school-wide access to SMARTPREP IB App here or contact ManageBac support for technology to help cope with the isolation rules enacted to combat COVID-19.