It’s been nine weeks since schools in Cyprus shifted to distance learning. The American International School introduced a distance learning programme based on the idea that schooling cannot be the same when society and the global community are undergoing unprecedented and dramatic change.
AISC educators believe the one-size fits all approach of large class settings following a regular school timetable simply does not work for most students. Instead, the school quickly developed a balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning. This model has allowed teachers to support a wide range of learners.
Live, online “synchronous” meetings follow a weekly schedule with teachers delivering learning to whole classes, small groups and individual learners. This is complemented by “asynchronous” independent activities that respond to the spectrum of learning styles from self-directed to collaborative. It also accommodates different student schedules, internet access, and family needs. As students work, teachers are available online, guiding them according to their needs and supporting their adjustment to the distance learning experience.
Teachers from across the school meet with students in small groups and one-on-one. While these sessions are mostly geared toward learning targets, many address a more important problem creeping up during remote learning: feeling disconnected and socially isolated. As Maria Katsama, a graduating senior, said, “the American International School is a family”.
A rich wellness programme supplements the academic learning with a social-emotional focus featuring regular wellness check-ins with school counsellors, elementary character education classes, and routine check-ins by administration, with staff, students and families.
For AISC, the shift to online distance learning is the culmination of years of decision-making that has recognised the importance of educational technology. The Educational Technology Programme at AISC was developed in conjunction with its learner profile that places open-mindedness, curiosity, integrity and empathy at its core.
School policies around educational technology allowed the school to transition easily to online learning, including loaning iPads to families with a drive-through event.