The Challenges and Trials of Online Learning: Reflecting on Rehoboth@Home

It's now been two weeks since all students returned to (relatively) normal classes and routines. So, what was like?

Firstly, it presented a unique, time-sensitive challenge to teachers and support staff. They had to prepare for a whole new way of teaching and learning in a matter of weeks. Added to that, no one knew how long we might need online learning. Do we prepare for a 2-3 weeks, or a whole term? Longer?

While we have made great strides in integrating technology appropriately in the classroom, teaching and learning exclusively online was a steep learning curve. We’ve come out the other side with an expanded toolkit, refined skills, and a greater appreciation for our families.

Rehoboth@Home was also an opportunity for parents to take an inside look at what teaching and learning is about at Rehoboth. Maintaining academic rigour, a comprehensive (but varied) program, and delivering it from a Christian worldview was the goal, and teachers rose to this challenge admirably. One parent had this to say: ‘Well done to the Rehoboth teaching and support staff for rising to the challenge and pulling this off. I know firsthand the endless hours throughout the entire “holiday” period that, at least one, but I assume many more, have put in. I’m proud to send my children to Rehoboth Christian College’ Matthew Witcombe

One parent was even inspired to put their thoughts into verse:

Reho@Home!

Figuring out technology
Finding each a screen
Learning school terminology
Just wait kids!! There’s only one of me!
Devotions, Maths and English,
You think you’re done? Let’s read the list
No YouTube, music – you wish!
Make sure you do your check-in
What’s all this you have missed?

Time to re-start the laptop
Where are those login codes?
Hey it’s Lunch – STOP!
School projects, so many questions,
Home is full of clutter
Making their own home lunch
We’re out of peanut butter!
Crafts, activities, learn to read,
Reho@Home fills the day
C’mon kids, that’s enough
You need outside time and play.

We are missing all our friends
We’re learning to FaceTime and Zoom
While we wonder when it will end.
We need daily walks, fresh air
No going any place
Who cares what we wear!

Where’s my uniform?
What’s happened to your socks?
Gotta run and beat the bell
School’s ON – can’t you tell?
What now to have for lunch
Pack some sip and crunch

The sink is finally clear of dishes
And my home is (almost) clean
It’s most definitely quieter
What a different time it’s been!

Thank you to teachers, staff
Students – GO back to class!
You learnt that learning is up to you!
Go and see how much more you can do!

From a thankful parent

Pre-Primary Say Hello

Our teachers at Rehoboth Christian College did an outstanding job preparing for Rehoboth@Home. It was a huge task that they pulled off with much collaboration and grace, rising to the challenge of providing uninterrupted learning for students. But it would have all fallen apart without our parents partnering with us as they did. Here, our Pre-Primary students were concerned their teacher, Mrs Mubanga, might be starting to feel the COVID blues. So with their parents’ help, students put together this message for her to say hello, thank you, and ‘We’re ready for Term 2!’

At Home with Year 2

One of the things we really enjoyed about learning at home was starting our day together and not having to pack lunches and schoolbags or rush out the door to be somewhere. Instead, we shared a longer breakfast and sat on the couch together to watch our morning devotions. We watched little videos on the Fruit of the Spirit. We learnt to be together and to share one space for five weeks. To do this we needed lots of patience, kindness, self-control and love to name just a few.

We even had some unexpected visitors like Cowboy T, Stockman Tom, Jane from the Jungle, and even Grandma T. Some were quite peculiar but likeable characters distantly related to our Mrs T. All gave us a laugh while giving us a rundown of our daily and weekly schedules.

We had Maths and English tasks to do and specialist subjects in the afternoon. In Maths we estimated, compared, and recorded the length of all sorts of things.

Making and flying paper planes, to practice measuring flight paths, was one of our favourite activities. In fact, some of us measured anything that moved, including mums, dads, brothers, and sisters. Fortunately, we didn’t see anyone trying to measure their cat, dog, or bunny!

We made chatterboxes to practice our spelling words. We enjoyed morning tea while we listened eagerly to readings of our storybook, Because of Winn-Dixie. We have even started our project to design, plan, and make a 3D model of that scruffy stray, Winn-Dixie.

One thing we all agreed on – while there were lots of fun things to do and we spent time with our family, we couldn’t see them all and we really missed being together, sharing our day and the moments in them. We missed our friends at school, we missed all the teachers, having canteen, sport, and music together. We missed the Library and doing our Indonesian together. We couldn’t wait to be back to be together once again at our special school of Rehoboth!

The Year 2s and Mrs Trubert

Year 2 Reflections

What I have enjoyed about Rehoboth@Home:

‘I loved Mrs T’s hilarious Good Morning videos, and that school was shorter, and you can play in your backyard’ – Renae

‘One thing I enjoyed doing while learning at home was to do the water poster for “save the water”. I didn’t know that we could use a poster to give information to people about how to save water. I also got to learn how to do 3D writing from my Mum. It was super fun learning at home.
Oh, and I really, really like the funny videos Mrs T did, especially Grandma T’ – Lael

‘I liked learning at home, but it was a bit stressful having my little brother and sister distracting me’ – Elisha

‘It’s been fun doing my schoolwork at home with Mummy. I liked watching Mrs T’s funny videos’ – Jamie M

‘I could have my Mum for the whole day and I could play with my sister’ – Evelyn

‘I enjoyed the quick Maths, not wearing my school uniform, and Mrs T’s funny morning videos’ – James W

‘I don’t want to say that learning at home was hard, because at some times it wasn’t. But at other times it was! But out of all the days I quite liked it. I liked that I could spend time with my family’ – Julina

‘I enjoyed learning at home because my Mummy teaches me stuff and we get to do video call with my friends. I also get to do mental maths because we usually don’t have time to do it at school’ – Leisel

‘I loved to measure different objects with a ruler or measuring tape’ – Aaron

‘I loved watching “Spirit of Fruits”. Learning at home was not bad’ – Lian

Year 6 Project@Home

Meanwhile, Year 6 students were given the task of designing a Bible-themed park as part of their Rehoboth@Home learning. This Technologies project required them to research theme parks (lots of virtual tours of Disneyland were enjoyed), decide what attractions they would include, and construct a model of their park. Here is Ceanna’s work. She said, ‘Here is my stop motion animation film of my Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace ride. We adjusted the plan on materials slightly – we added “blue cellophane” and “mobile phone and stop motion animation app” to the list. I hope you like it!’

‘I think we have a new candidate for a Celebrations Certificate,’ said Cenna’s teacher, Mrs Witcombe. ‘I think it is awesome and I thought it may brighten your day also’.

From the CEO

‘Be ready in season and out of season’
(2 Tim 4:2)

Paul’s word to Timothy here doesn’t refer to time, but to us. We are to be ready at all times, or, as Oswald Chambers puts it, ‘we should “be ready” whether we feel like it or not’.

In many ways, we all felt anything but ready during this COVID-19 season. However, if we only relied on those moments when we were comfortable and prepared, we would be of little use to God.

Fortunately, we have a team of staff, leaders, and Board who worked together to ensure our community was protected and our response at every stage was timely and well-considered.

Teachers rose to the challenge of online learning, and students took to it like a duck to water (mostly). There were many important 21st century skills put into practice over the last two months!

Our IT and Admin teams worked extremely hard to ensure all students and staff stayed connected and were well supported, while our Principals lead their teams with grace and confidence.

Our Board spent many hours carefully considering the best way forward for the College, having to balance the health and safety of students and staff, educational needs, financial stability, and a myriad of other factors and advice in their decision-making.

Parents, likewise, provided invaluable encouragement to staff and support for their children during Rehoboth@Home. Parents have done very well in unusual and trying circumstances and our students can return to school confident that their learning will continue without much disruption.

All of that is to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone in the Rehoboth community.

As we return to normal operations, there has not been an aspect of the College that has not been affected by COVID-19 in some way, but by God’s grace we were able to prepare well and we have so far come out the other side in a good position. As we seek to ‘be ready’, we have been reminded of the need to come humbly before God, that He is Lord of all and not just the parts we want to give Him, and to be listening for His Word in season.

Thank you again for your support, your words and deeds of encouragement, and for partnering with us so closely for the Rehoboth@Home period. If nothing else, COVID-19 has shown the spirit of Rehoboth as a Christian community in its best light and we can give thanks to God for that and His continuing hand of favour on the College.

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