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Covid crusaders

If lockdown has convinced Jessie Wu of anything, it’s the fact that her teachers “have superpowers”.
ACG Sunderland Year 9 student, Jessie Wu

If lockdown has convinced Jessie Wu of anything, it’s the fact that her teachers “have superpowers”.

The Year 9 student has marvelled at the skilful way ACG Sunderland teachers have transitioned students into the virtual classroom – a classroom that’s just about as awesome as the real thing.

“Throughout the course of these lockdowns, I’ve learnt to appreciate my teachers more, and now I understand exactly how important they are,” says Jessie (14).

From providing unrivalled support to boosting the fun factor, Jessie believes that her teachers are top-notch when it comes to lockdown learning.

“They’re involved in everything we do and go to great lengths to help us in any way possible. They always try their best to make our lessons fun, engaging and productive and, although they’re supporting us to develop self-directed learning skills, they also ensure we’re comfortable and confident with whatever we’re doing. They’ve had a very strong impact on me, and I’m glad that I’m always able to rely on them.”

And while – like most of us – Jessie was upset about another lockdown, one thing she wasn’t worried about was falling behind in her studies.

“I’m coping very well with online learning this time around. Since all of us already know what to do, our transition has been very smooth. We’re also aware of how to pace our learning now, so in a way, we’re experts at this!

“Virtual learning is quite effective and encouraging as not only do we have structured timetables and deadlines, but our teachers also understand that we might need additional support. Our work is adapted to make it easier to carry out on Zoom, and teachers are available for questions at any time. Plus, our coursework is virtually the same as it was when we were doing face-to-face learning. The only slight change is that we’re no longer able to do practical work, but this doesn’t affect us much, as we’re focusing more on theory at the moment anyway.”

Excellent online resources such as Blackboard, Microsoft Teams and Zoom have been invaluable tools for success.

“The online resources are very clear and straightforward. For example, on Blackboard, we’re able to access our grades, timetable, revision material, important PowerPoints, homework, and in some cases, our plan for the next lesson. This is extremely helpful, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.

“Our classes are all interactive, and our teachers always emphasise participation. I think this is a very important aspect of our learning, and we’ve learnt to adapt ourselves to maintain this whilst on Zoom. Using the ‘share screen’ function, we’re able to present our ideas and work. Using the ‘raise hand’ function, we’re able to notify the teacher that we have a question. Finally, using the ‘thumbs up/down’ function, we’re able to communicate whether we understand something or need extra support.”

Clearly, outstanding teachers, excellent resources and students who are passionate about their learning make for a winning lockdown combination. And the knowledge Jessie has gained throughout the process has extended far beyond academia.

“The online learning experience has taught me many life lessons. I truly understand how grades aren’t the most important thing in the world; my health is. Mental health is just as important as physical, and we need to learn to take care of both. I’ve also realised exactly how much my friends, teachers, and family mean to me. 

“This whole experience has helped me to build stronger bonds with many people and learn to see things from a totally different perspective.”