Including Isolating Pupils in Whole Class Lessons at Ringwood Junior School Through Video Conferencing

Interview with Gemma Hutchins Year 3 Leader at Ringwood Junior School
Gemma has been providing video conference and Google Classroom access for an isolating pupil in her class. I interviewed her to ask about her experiences so far.

What did you think about including an isolating child at home in your classroom via video conferencing when it was first suggested?

When I read the government guidance, I felt a little overwhelmed at the prospect of the extra workload. It also crossed my mind that the parents may also be watching/listening which can be a little intimidating. I also just worried about how well I would get to grips with using the technology. After chatting with our computing lead about how we may set up a lesson for a self-isolating child I decided the only thing to do was to give it a try.

What alternatives to video conferencing were you considering?

I would have just used Google Classroom lessons and perhaps loom videos. Having spent two weeks isolating as a class I then realised how detrimental it was going to be for children who were missing further school due to self-isolating. I felt I really had to give virtual lessons a go.

What lessons have you included pupils remotely in?

Whilst we were all self-isolating together as class, I did a geography lesson and a history quiz. When there was just the one child at home, she joined us for three maths lessons and two English lessons during the time she was at home.

Can you describe a typical face to face lesson which a pupil joined from home?

I would post the link to the lesson onto Google Classroom earlier in the day. I always gave prior warning so I knew she would be able to join. I then ensured they were able to join us and allowed the children to say a very quick hello. I then would let the child know that I was going to start presenting. She was able to see the slides I was using on the IWB and was able to hear my input. When they had learning partner time, I switched back from presenting to just seeing the child on the laptop screen. I positioned her learning partner next to my laptop. This meant that she was able to chat to her learning partner during this time rather than just waiting for us. If I used lollipops, I would also showed the child on the interactive white board if her name was pulled out, so she was able to share her comments and ideas. Once I had finished the lesson input, I set the children their independent learning. This allowed me to have a two-minute conversation with the child on the call to ensure their understanding. I would then end the call so they could complete the learning on their own at home.

Why did you end the video call at this point?

I did not know how long the child at home would be able to spend on the video call. My expectation of the children in the classroom is that they would be independently completing their learning at this point, so I simply replicated this for the child at home.

What aspects have worked well?

Involving the child who was self-isolating was really important to me. The feedback I had from her parents was incredibly positive about her joining the lessons through video conferencing. They were really grateful because their child did feel lonely at home. The parents were very unwell with Covid so they were very grateful for some her to receive some direct input and they said it helped keep her motivated.

What aspects have been a struggle?

Nothing was too difficult, but it is something else to do and remember. I had to advise them in advance which lessons I would involve them in and then remember to post the link on Google Classroom. I also thought carefully about which lessons would work well involving the child at home. A maths lesson with practical resources for example would not have worked.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the experience?

Feedback I had from the parents when the child returned to school was incredibly positive. They did say it could be fine-tuned by the Learning partner in school using headphones/microphone to cut out some of the background noise during class discussions. They felt this was a minor point though to make the experience even better for other children.

I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. I know it isn’t the same quality of lesson as when they are all in school, but it felt like a positive experience to be able to include all the children in my class in learning together.

Gemma Hutchins
Year 3 Leader Ringwood Junior School

Interview carried out by Phil Bagge