Covid Update: Hybrid Learning

The 2020-21 academic year began online, and the distance learning experience has been enhanced based on best practices gained during the 2020 spring semester. In addition, protocols have been prepared which allow for in-person classes, distance learning and hybrid lessons. Students began returning in October, but with some students not being able to come to campus, teachers were faced with a new learning style: hybrid lessons, in which some students were physically in the classroom and others joined online. 

English teacher İlkay Sevimli summed up what all teachers are feeling when she recently spoke with the Bosphorus Chronicle reporter Ali Telek L10: “For me, the most difficult transition is not having that collective laughter. We all smile and laugh, but because you are muted we don’t hear it, and I miss that. I really miss having the face-to-face authentic classroom environment, where you get to hear each other, speak, and laugh at the same time.”

Lessons Are Designed Differently

Lise Prep teacher Ana Shaw shares her experiences with hybrid learning. 

The thought of going hybrid was daunting, but if you put aside the technical and educational implications of moving to this teaching medium, the first thing that stood out for me was how rewarding it was to see students in person and the pleasure on their faces to be physically in school. Day one was spent being totally thrown by the heights of students. I had made assumptions from the zoom boxes of how tall students were and was proven completely off by this. It led to some amused surprised faces all around, especially when a student noted, “You are the same size as me Miss!” 

My RC 25 Prep students have been so patient and resilient online when technical issues befall them or us, and this continued with hybrid learning. The successes we had as a class were due to a supportive environment that was contributed to by everyone. My desire was to uphold our joint commitment to be a community of learners together and so, of those that were able to have face-to-face lessons, students would volunteer to be part of the “zoom squad” and join the students at home online to help share their views and for break-out room discussions. On the smart screens I would use the split screen to show both the slides and the students on the zoom sessions so they were part of our community. 

The lessons that I designed for face-to-face/hybrid learning needed to be different from online learning to not only utilize the school spaces, but also to avoid replicating the online learning experience and instead, create opportunities to allow for socially distant group activities. For example, we had a successful lesson in the Commons with Mia Pamuk, the head of English Language Learning, working with us also to ensure we had effective group activities designed in socially distanced spaces that we could both walk around and monitor and support. We had a less successful lesson on the Plateau, which is safer but proved challenging to hear online students.

The students are disappointed that they are not able to see each other at school, but have taken it in stride. I am trying to find ways to replicate some of the enjoyment of being together and to allow some time, (after class or the start of the lesson) for students to chat to each other in breakout rooms where they can self-select, as they would do if they were in the classroom before I got there.

Also, when students are not unmuting and sharing, the nodding along, smiling, laughing and thumbs up to indicate they are listening are truly appreciated!  

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