Tips for Returning To School: An Interview with Dr Flávia Belham

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Tips for Returning To School: An Interview with Dr Flávia Belham

Carolina: “Let’s dive into concrete teaching activities that can support teachers in their work. How can schools identify and close any ‘learning gaps’ in September? Can setting assessment and feedback strategically support this?”

Flávia: “Identifying learning gaps can be a huge task, so we should make data work for us! If we combine all the data collected from students’ work during the lockdown we will be better informed about their learning gaps and how to close them. All work that students do on Seneca is recorded and displayed to teachers on the teacher platform. We also have several “end of topic” quizzes that are even better to evaluate learning gaps. In schools, we should focus on great teaching and the use of formative assessment strategies. According to Michael Chiles, who just wrote a book about assessment and feedback and wrote a course for Seneca, we should use responsive teaching to try and diagnose what students do and do not know. A good approach would be to build a cumulative assessment and keep reviewing content that was covered during the lockdown. It’s important to focus on low threat, high impact assessment.”

Carolina: “What advice would you give teachers in preparation for the school start in September? What are your Top 3 tips?”

Flávia: “Like Sam said, number 1 would be keep teaching! Second one to make data work for you. Collect information from your students’ performance and use it to make decisions to benefit them. And third one to get more familiar with technology, in case we have a second lockdown (hopefully not, but who knows!). For example, get more familiar with platforms for live lessons, live calls, as well as Google Classroom and, of course, Seneca.”

Carolina: “We know that teachers will be busy preparing for September. Are there any further readings or CPD opportunities regarding these topics that you wish to highlight – preferably free?”

Flávia: “All of our CPD is always free! We have more than 15 online courses for teachers, covering different areas, such as assessment, literacy, dual coding, leadership, and even more specific ones such as mathematical methods. We will also be returning with more subject-specific virtual conferences. The ones we have run so far had between 750 and 950 participants live! So we will definitely do more of these. Lastly, my colleague Richard is running webinars to explain how to integrate Seneca with Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams, for example. All of those CPD opportunities allow teachers to get a certificate at the end!