School Name: Victoria Education Centre
School District: International
Inquiry Team Members: Lisa Boyes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Baldwin: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12), Post-secondary
Curricular Area(s): Other: Wellbeing and attitudes to learning
Focus Addressed: Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To see how our students are coping when returning from lockdown due to COVID.
Scanning: We scanned our students and a lot of them were finding that coming back into school and reconnecting with their friends and staff was really challenging. Even though we had returned to school, it was very different for the students as they were not permitted to access a lot of areas in school and we weren’t allowed to mix with certain classes or staff.
Focus: We decided that we were going to trial using the PASS survey to see if we could find out how the students were feeling, and then put in intervention plans so that we could support individual classes or students so that they could feel reconnected and more settled at school.
Hunch: A lot of the students returned to school in September really well, but then we went into a second lockdown and this unsettled a lot of the students; this was noticed through behaviours that were being displayed, attitudes to learning, engagement in activities, anxiety and self-esteem. This became more concerning as we approached December 2020. We had been told about the PASS survey which analyses students attitudes and approaches to learning, but we didn’t know whether it would be accessible or easily adaptable for our students.
New Professional Learning: We decided to use the PASS survey and started in a Key Stage 2 class – age 7-11 years. We used a survey for a younger age range of students, but found that some of my students found it difficult because they were only allowed to give “yes” or “no” answers, and at times they weren’t sure. We then trialled the next level of survey with one of my students, and he coped with it really well. I decided to roll out the surveys to the classes that we had identified, so that students had the option to access them either in school or at home if they were still shielding. I met with the staff who were going to introduce this to their classes; there was some hesitancy as we had used an assessment package previously from the company that creates PASS, and our teachers weren’t as keen. However, they decided to try. I then had a staff meeting with the teachers once the surveys had been completed, to share the data that we had found so that we could then put in interventions to support the students in our classes.
Taking Action: In my class, there was a clear indicator that a lot of my students lacked self-confidence and self-belief; therefore, we continued to work on the “recovery curriculum,” where we focussed on ideas that they created or were curious about and learnt altogether. I wanted to create a teaching environment where any questions could be asked and all staff and students would be involved in our curious learning. We looked at topics linked to “extreme weather” which we had noticed was happening in the world due to news reports; our class is interested in gory and smelly topics, so we had a week on “toilets” and why we need them(!); and we did a lot of work on “growth mindset,” as a lot of them had returned from isolation feeling that they couldn’t do things and that they were useless and worthless. We read lots of books and did activities about “growth mindset,” and made a game up called the “no mistakes game,” where everyone makes a mark on a piece of paper and then it is passed to the next person where they have 1 minute to make the mark into a picture. Another session that we included was mindfulness, where we focussed on breathing techniques, relaxation and also creating mindfulness drawing journeys – when I read a descriptive passage to them. They all really loved these sessions and were so creative and imaginative. Finally, on a Friday, we introduced a “games” session, where they all had a choice of 2 or three different games and we all played together, so that we could focus on sharing, waiting our turn and playing alongside others.
Checking: The students have become more settled and resilient. Since COVID restrictions have changed again recently, we have had to change what they can and can’t do within school, again. The students have been a little frustrated, but coped with these changes really well.
We are going to re-scan all the classes at the end of June to see what impact our strategies have had, and to see if they have made a difference. The students have built great relationships within their own “bubbles” and on the rare occasion that we have been able to meet as a school outside, the feeling and atmosphere has been amazing.
Reflections/Advice: We are going to see how the students respond to the PASS survey at the end of the year and then I propose that we do this on an annual basis. We have noticed that we are doing a lot more social, emotional and mental health support, and we are looking at creating an area within our school grounds that is near nature, where students can get support but also reconnect and deescalate. We are going to see if we can create a team of well-being support, as our students are going to need more support once they return from our summer holidays.