What if the new normal in education, is better?

Behind the closed door of lockdown, Jarred has become one of our most prolific and engaged Young Pirates. Jarred sends a photo of his work every week to our virtual learning centre. He has taken time to put together long passages, written using techniques that we outline in a weekly video. We send a photo back with comments – positive and encouraging. The thing is Jarred is a reluctant writer at school and for the past seven months at Literacy Pirates was what we sometimes call a bit bouncy in class. You know the child that might be too cool for school, careful not to give away any insecurity.

Like all educational organisations and charities we have moved online and are translating our well-thought out learning mechanisms to the digital world. Literacy Pirates offers a year-long, after-school literacy intervention, delivered by teachers and support by adult attention given in small groups all within a fantastical pirate-themed environment. We work to improve reading and writing skills, and improve confidence and perseverance in the school classroom. Taking that online meant we needed to replace a teacher leading the session and an adult volunteer sitting with one or two Young Pirates offering encouragement, support, challenge, and a handful of laughter and fun. Next month we will reintroduce real time interaction between Young Pirates’, teacher, and volunteers through a conference call platform. But until then we created constant interactions but with a time delay. Our teachers drop a video three times a week with an activity to complete, the Young Pirates upload a photo of their work, we read and text back comments. The technology is limited, it’s not real time and it’s pretty cumbersome for the team.

What do we want to share? What we have learnt is that encouragement and creating a positive environment online remain vital for learning to take place. It was clear to us that translating what happens in the classroom into the digital world required interaction and feedback from adults. This is especially important for the reluctant readers and writers, for those with learning difficulties, and those who have lost confidence in their own abilities. These are the children we work with all year round.

Watching Jarred upload work week on week you can’t help think that some children are going to find learning at home (when coupled with chucked up activities and good feedback from a trusted educator) even more effective than the classroom. Knowing we have a number of months where face-to-face learning will be limited, we are committed to figuring out how to make the most of the digital world, and even champion it. If the opportunity for this Young Pirate resonates then perhaps you would like to help us. We need funding, a media partner and website developer to help us continue our work.

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