Educators, school leaders, parents and students all agree this has been a turbulent year. The pandemic has changed the world and the way we live, learn and teach. All IB World Schools confronted challenges conducting November assessments, and the MYP eAssessment was no exception.
At Westwood International School in Gaborone, Botswana, educators put the utmost importance on familiarizing parents and students with the eAssessment platform. They initiated training sessions in June, July and October that included a combination of practice assessments and sessions for parents and students covering COVID-19 (Coronavirus) safety protocols. Their efforts laid the foundation for a successful examination session, forged close ties with their community and strengthened relationships with students and parents.
We spoke with Anandhi Lakshminarayanan, Westwood’s MYP coordinator, who noted, “Giving the students a repeated practice gave them a lot of confidence, as the pandemic made them feel emotionally stressed and felt disadvantaged. We conducted parent meetings to assure them that as a school we were prepared to handle any situation”. Lakshminarayanan adds, “MYP staff co-operated extremely well in supporting the students academically and in pastoral care at all points in time. There were hardly any MYP-five students that missed school due to the pandemic when the school reopened after the lockdown(s)”.
The school’s efforts to address all queries, concerns and issues that arose paved the way for positive outcomes. “The [Westwood International School] Community (MYP-five teachers, parents and students) were fully prepared for the assessments. We made it the ‘Mission Possible’ with the cooperation of parents, students, educators and mainly the support staff. The aid of the support staff … made it possible for the students to sit these assessments in a safe, well- sanitized environment with regularly cleaned school laptops”, says Lakshminarayanan.
“The [Westwood International School] Community (MYP-five teachers, parents and students) were fully prepared for the assessments. We made it the ‘Mission Possible’ with the cooperation of parents, students, educators and mainly the support staff. The aid of the support staff and the SHE officer made it possible for the students to sit these assessments in a safe, well- sanitized environment with regularly cleaned school laptops”, says Lakshminarayanan.
The school community at Westwood was able to provide continuous support to both parents and students and is extremely proud of their achievement. They are using this experience to look ahead to the May 2021 examination session. One of their key recommendations for other schools is to begin to anticipate concerns and communicate well ahead of time.
“Address the anxieties that may arise around COVID-19, as it can stress people differently and to different levels as well”, reminds Lakshminarayanan, “MYP-five students are young adults, and thus needed a lot of psychological support, so please factor activities that would address this. Getting the students to social distance was a challenge, but with a lot of patience and repeated explanations, students do eventually understand the need to follow the COVID-19 protocols”.
Amid all of this planning and preparation, Lakshminarayanan offered one important reminder—to always plan in time to let teenagers focus on having fun and their well-being: “Include some fun activities and physical activities, that will serve as stress busters for the students. Students should not miss out on the fun element of the school life, thus carryout modified activities that can take care of this part of their teenage life”.
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