A Week in the Life of a Curriculum Director at the British International School in Hong Kong
As the curriculum deputy of Kellett School, a British international school in Hong Kong, my weeks are packed with classes, sessions with parents, school events, and faculty meetings. For the second academic year in a row, I am using Zoom to coordinate, plan, and host these important events with our students, teachers, and parents. My typical week has been anything but this past year, and here are some of the numerous ways Zoom has played a role one week in December 2020:
Meeting new staff
My week begins with my weekly line management meeting, and as it is the final week of the autumn term, we discuss how the term has gone and how our new staff members have settled in, all of whom we met this year over Zoom. Zoom played an instrumental role in bringing our new teachers on board, empowering them to get to know their students online and allowing us to take these teachers through our induction programme while they completed their mandatory two-week quarantine before coming to Hong Kong.
My next Zoom session involves my Y10 English class, where my students are working on writing a comparative piece about two of the poems we studied this term. After I set the task, I watch them as they write their response in Google Docs, where I can watch what they are typing live. This is the third academic year that I have used Google Classroom to set and mark all of my English work. Zoom enhances this coursework and closely replicates how this activity would take place in the classroom.
Our English faculty meeting takes place via Zoom on Tuesdays. When everything transferred to online learning at the start of the academic year, our aim was to use technology to ensure the term ran as close to normal as possible. This faculty meeting is an example of how teachers are using Zoom to connect with each other to reflect on the end of term and plan for the start of next term. We still don’t know whether the start of the term will be online or physically in school, so teachers are planning for both scenarios.
A “new-normal” English lesson
Wednesday sees a “normal” online English lesson, where the ability to share my screen and model annotating texts and answers is essential to the learning experience. In this lesson, I asked them to post their essays into Word Cloud Generator and identify some of the most used words in their essay. I then allocated a teaching assistant to a Zoom Breakout Room and to work with students individually to support and develop their written responses.
Meeting with families new to Kellett
I then turn my attention to Zooming with families who are relocating to Hong Kong at the beginning of next term. As an international school with students entering at different times in the year, the ability to connect with families face-to-face over Zoom before they arrive in Hong Kong is critical to a positive student experience. Even when we return to something more normal, I want us to continue meeting with future students using Zoom.
I meet with some current parents to discuss their child’s progress. Both parents are on the call but Zooming in from different venues! This is a huge asset, as Hong Kong is a densely populated city, and moving around can take some time. The ease of such meetings allows both parents to be involved and provides easy access to our Student Learning Conferences, Options Evening, and Open Evening Online, which have been extremely well received.
Online Christmas concert
No end of term would be the same without a Christmas concert, and this year has been no different, albeit on Zoom! This most fantastic feat of technology ensured that Christmas cheer has filled homes across Hong Kong and left our community feeling quite emotional about the impact that technology has had on our creative teachers and students.
Staff and parent quiz
One of the last things of the week was the staff and parent quiz held over Zoom, which saw a huge turnout on the penultimate night of term. Yet again, this event showcased the creativity, energy, and enthusiasm of our staff to ensure that they are able to respond to a situation and continue to engage with parents and students.
As I reflect on the calendar year that we have had, I can’t quite believe it. I have been so impressed by our school, staff, students, and parents in this time of physical distancing, uncertainty, and pandemic fatigue.
We’ve seen the importance of community, no matter how we are connected, and the need for creativity, resilience, and flexibility in the face of these challenges. Zoom has been the glue all along, and we are very thankful for it.