ACG Strathallan is open for learning – a fact for which student, Taijel Hari is extremely grateful. The busy Prefect, who is also responsible for co-leading the College’s media team, is currently in her final year of A Level study which is a crucial time in her high school education.
Understandably Taijel was initially quite apprehensive when she heard that schools were set to close under Covid-19 alert level restrictions.
“Before the announcement, I was not too phased by the thought of online school,” she says. “But as soon as we were told that schools were set to close, the fact that this was our new reality became a scary thought, and everything was happening so fast. Like many others, I have not experienced anything remotely close to this kind of situation before and the unknown was a little stressful.”
However, Taijel’s concerns about distance learning were quickly alleviated when she saw the speed and efficiency with which ACG Strathallan’s remote learning framework and online programmes were put in place.
“I was very thankful that Strathallan was able to offer me an online education during lockdown. I knew Year 13 would be quite challenging with my leadership and extra-curricular activities, so it was a relief to know I would not be falling behind in my studies.”
Recognising the efforts of teaching staff who have implemented online lessons so effectively, Taijel is very appreciative of the resources and support she continues to receive from ACG Strathallan. And while adapting to a ‘virtual classroom’ environment has meant a different style of school day, the seventeen-year-old feels the move to online learning has been a positive one.
“The majority of my subjects have adapted really well to the virtual classroom. I have found that I need to concentrate a little more to ensure I have a good understanding of content, but I am grateful that my teachers have done all they can to make this change as smooth as possible.
“Without the constant hard work and dedication of my teachers to set up online learning and find new ways to teach us digitally, I would definitely be behind in my studies and think that coming back to school would have been incredibly stressful. A few of my teachers have adjusted the curriculum to ensure we are covering topics that are easier to grasp in an online classroom. I am very thankful for all of their efforts and the help they have given me.”
Online learning does have its challenges and Taijel admits that for her, establishing and maintaining a routine is proving to be the most difficult aspect. As a result, the importance of removing distractions and focusing on online lessons has become even more significant.
“Self-directed learning and not being in a normal school environment are new experiences for me, so I’m trying to keep motivated and work towards reaching daily goals,” she explains.
While it has been a learning curve, taking responsibility and managing her own workload has proven to be an invaluable lesson for Taijel, especially as she considers university options next year.
“This newfound control over my learning has actually been the most enjoyable part of online schooling. I have learned so much about the importance of organisation and self-directed studies in my education. And it has been really nice to stay connected with my peers and teachers so that the value of class discussion is not a lost asset in my studies.”
According to Taijel, the importance of interacting with teachers and fellow students is not to be underestimated.
“Seeing my teachers and classmates has been a vital part of online learning as it has provided a sense of normality. The live face-to-face contact has meant that I am still able to ask questions or request further explanations on content I am unsure of, while having the support of class discussions has been hugely beneficial.”
When Covid-19 restrictions are finally lifted and school life returns to normal, Taijel is most looking forward to the social aspects of the College and immersing herself in practical science lessons.
“I am excited to return to a physical classroom where I can connect with my peers and teachers once again. I am also looking forward to being able to use the school’s physical resources and enjoy practical work in Biology and Chemistry classes which will further help reinforce the theory that we are currently learning.”