With the changes occurring throughout the world as a result of COVID-19, it is refreshing to see business is uninterrupted for distance education learning. At Capricornia School of Distance Education (CSDE), we are feeling proud that we have built a method of delivery that we know can withstand the barriers of distance and still cater to the needs of a diverse learning group. It seems likely that we will see some changes to the way that mainstream education is delivered in Australia, and the world, over the coming weeks or months and we hope that some of the work that distance education has done over the years can make the transition for off-campus learning easier for these schools.
The standout priorities that CSDE has come to deliver through learning over distance, include; creating an expert teaching team, planning and delivering a differentiated curriculum and demonstrating effective pedagogy in a distance education setting. Due to the current hot topics, it is time to pay homage to the fabulous home tutors at Capricornia SDE and how they earned that title!
We believe that the one of the major keys to success in our learning program, is the growing of an expert teaching team. The obvious difference for distance education is that the home tutor (parent/ governess/teaching support person) plays a unique and vital role in the student education program, particularly with students in the primary sector. Initially, one of the keys to success for students includes the building of consistent expectations and understanding around the role of the home tutor, beginning at the enrolment interview stage. This role needs clarity and direction.
Clear yearly and term overviews with the specific clarification around the tasks that the home tutor is responsible for and those that the teacher are responsible for, as well as the dates of any return of work requirements are a necessary starting point. Communication between the teacher and the home tutor is regular through multiple mediums. Home Tutors have access to learning opportunities online and at mini-school (termly campus visits) where they can build their own literacy and numeracy skills,work on teaching strategies, learn about classroom management and become efficient with the technology.
Home tutors are encouraged to give individual descriptive feedback to the student, as well guide the teacher with their own observations taken from children’s learning. They also play a role in the development and monitoring of student learning goals. In the primary years, there are parts of the curriculum that is delivered by the home tutor, as well as supplementary programs for early literacy (e.g. phonics), spelling and numeracy.
The home tutors have been instrumental in the growing and maintaining of a culture where students are expected to attend all online lessons and return all work in a timely fashion. They have encouraged and shared our values and this is evident with a community understanding about accountability, integrity, relationships, responsibility and resilience.
Whilst there is a large responsibility on the shoulders of home tutors, the results of their work is evident in student outcomes, the maintaining of a strong learning culture and the positive relationships that Capricornia SDE families have with teachers. We couldn’t do it without them!