The Bermuda Education Network [BEN] has launched their new website—www.ben.bm—with the hope that it will provide some useful support for parents and teachers during the shelter in place period.
BEN Director, Laura Bell worked on the project with Stephan Johnstone of SJD World. She explained that although the project has been in the works for a few months, they have responded to the current situation by accelerating the timeline for completion and adding some additional elements.
“Designing support for remote learning has been challenging because there is no way of knowing how long it will last, however BEN is committed to supporting teachers with a wide range of remote learning strategies until early June,” a spokesperson said.
“According to Executive Director, Becky Ausenda, most of the public primary schools have asked their teachers to create “choice boards” of activities as a way for parents and teachers to set manageable goals. Students are asked to complete three activities from the choice board and send photographs to their teachers of what they have created.
“In order to assist the teachers with some activity ideas, BEN’s Experiential Learning Director, Zonique James, created a resource for teachers and parents to refer to on BEN’s new website.”
“The best lessons right now make use of objects or materials that can be commonly found around the house,” said James, a former Primary level teacher who worked at Port Royal Primary and Dalton E. Tucker before joining BEN in 2019.
“We can’t assume that all parents have access to a printer so we’re recommending experiential learning activities instead of worksheets. We’re working with classroom teachers and our partner education organisations to collect activities that you can tailor to your class needs and forward to parents.”
Ausenda adds that most of the educators she has spoken with agree with the choice to keep the remote learning flexible and to avoid this becoming another source of anxiety in the household.
“All this uncertainty is highly stressful and I think the natural tendency of parents is to worry that we’re not doing enough. But children will bounce back from having missed a couple of months of schooling – I think it’s right to focus on parent well-being because stress levels at home have the biggest impact on a child’s life at the moment.”
Laura Bell shared her own perspective about the need to set realistic expectations, saying: For me it was counterproductive to try to juggle work while simultaneously keeping my P2 daughter on task all day long. I was feeling guilty that she wasn’t getting all of her ‘suggested’ activities done while also worrying about how to get my own work completed.
“So I switched around my hours and now focus on giving her my undivided attention for a solid 2 hours in the morning when she is most keen to work and then I just let her choose her own activities in the afternoon when I turn my attention back to my clients. I found this approach worked better for us than trying to mimic a full day of school and work at the same time.”
Ausenda concludes: “I think as parents we need to be kind to ourselves and I particularly feel for the teachers who are taking care of their own children whilst trying to organize lessons for their students. I hope that by pooling resources we might be able to help them and I’m grateful to everyone in our education community who have helped us by sharing activities and ideas.”