The school is pleased to be able to offer e-learning through virtual classrooms to our students during times of crises. Although we would all prefer to be able to continue with regular, face-to-face classroom instruction, the school’s remote learning provision is a very valuable and worthwhile offering, in place for only very specific times. Crises could include medical or political situations, both of which the school and country have experienced during the academic year of 2019-2020.
We use Microsoft Teams for virtual classrooms and Moodle to communicate online, setting tasks and work for students. We also communicate school work set via email regularly, particularly for the youngest age groups. This e-learning provision is made available to all grade levels, from KG1 to Grade 12, and all programmes, such as our Lebanese and international programmes, the latter of which includes IGCSEs and the IB Diploma. In addition, the school has relationships with many of the world’s leading online library resource providers and, due to these relationships, we are able to offer an e-library with multiple platforms available for both Lower School and Upper School students.
Intensive Staff Training and In-House Produced Training Guides
Workshops were held for selected teachers in late 2019, after MS Teams had been selected as the school’s virtual classrooms application in September, with those teachers being trained substantially. This selected group of trained teachers then acted as leaders, training other colleagues (all teachers and administrators). The school kept in contact with Microsoft throughout the whole process. Indeed, BHS established a Question & Answer shared document which the Microsoft representative was so impressed, then shared with other schools too, in order to support their own learning and application. E-learning training is very much ongoing with different activities and shared learnings taking place regularly.
The school took the initiative to produce training guides for the use of MS Teams and Moodle, available for students and parents to better understand and gain the maximum from each platform. There is also an MS Teams Support Group for Questions guidebook produced.
Provision of E-Learning During Covid-19 Pandemic
The school’s E-Learning provision during the pandemic has been continually evolving in line with global best practices.
Infant Section students receive Online Pastoral Sessions (OPS) as well as academic classes each day. OPS classes allow them to connect with their teachers and classmates for two short 20-minute periods each day. Activities include meet and greet, story time, French and Arabic activities, show and tell, circle time and songs. Parents of students in the Infant Section are emailed appropriate amounts of academic work on a weekly basis by their teacher. Academic classes began after the OPS classes and expanded to include a breadth of subject material keeping students working on the skills and acquiring the knowledge necessary to pass the year. Please find the Infant schedule here.
In the final week of the school term and academic year, the Infant Section trialled a new schedule system, splitting classes into two groups of students, and each group receiving the same subject matter and activities each day: Circle Time, English, Arabic and French. In this new format, children have more opportunity to join in the activities because of the smaller groups. Should the school continue online at the start of the next academic year, it is this new format which shall be implemented.
Students in Lower and Upper Elementary have pastoral sessions with their teachers and the pastoral care is complemented by academic work to be completed, also shared via email. Pastoral sessions are about the students’ well-being, providing consistency and maintaining relationships with their teacher. Students have timetabled virtual classrooms with their teachers and, according to current best practice, we have kept the lessons short and to two to three lessons per day in the Lower Elementary, and three to four lessons in the Upper. Please find the Lower Elementary schedule here and Upper Elementary schedule here. E-learning uses a range of material to support the teaching. In addition to the regular classroom instruction, support teachers are also available to work with smaller groups of students as/when needed. The virtual classrooms are supplemented by academic work that is set on Moodle for the Upper Elementary students. The activities on Moodle are varied and include more traditional activities along with videos, online games and problem solving for example.
Intermediate and Secondary students follow an abridged timetable, using the same virtual classroom platform of Microsoft Teams, and Moodle for the scheduling of work. This means that all subjects from Maths to Physics, and anything in between, is still able to be offered to BHS students on all the Lebanese and international programmes available. Also, in many Upper School courses (Intermediate and Secondary), online assessment through Moodle is often taking place. For the Intermediate schedule please click here, and for the Secondary schedule click here. The school’s Support For Learning Department complements this online learning provision, working with individuals or small groups of students to ensure their success with the class material in a variety of subject areas.
Attendance across the whole school (Infants, Elementary, Intermediate and Secondary) for our virtual classrooms is currently at 90%. Active participation within the sessions is high, as students take it in turns to vocalise their thoughts and ideas within the virtual classrooms.
The school also promotes different creative challenges via social media to students such as drawing, painting, creating drama videos, designing board games and crafting a rolling car, as we promote families to set up a ‘makerspace’ area in their homes. Fitness workouts and challenges are also set weekly by the school’s PE Department. In addition, an art competition in collaboration with the famous British Artist in Lebanon, Mr Tom Young, has been created for the majority of student age groups (and adults) to participate, with the winners due to spend a whole day alongside the artist in his studio or on site post-lockdown. One of the drivers for providing these creative and physical outputs to students (and families) is knowledge acquired from the UK Government’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology and the British Psychological Society.
Online Counselling Service (OCoS)
Continuing the school’s structured and worthwhile provision of counselling, BHS is very pleased to be able to offer a continuation of this service online. Students (and parents of students in the youngest grades) are able to communicate with their section’s counsellor, first by writing and booking an appointment, and then speaking via an online conference tool (typically Teams) with their trusted adult. More information on this service as well as contact details have been provided by email to the community.
The school’s motto is ‘I Serve’ and all members of the BHS community have remained very committed to supporting those in need through service and action even during the Covid-19 pandemic. An example of this came with a student-led action of the Prom Committee when they were deciding what to do with the LL1,800,000 funds raised for their end-of-year event which could not take place. Instead, the Committee decided to donate the substantial funds to the NGO FoodBlessed, a local hunger-relief initiative. Not only did the Committee donate, they also volunteered in packaging over 160 food assistance packages containing basic food commodities to be delivered to the struggling families that need them, with the whole action publicised by www.the961.com.
Communications and Experiences
Parents are kept continually updated on services being offered by the school, as well as advice and tips of how to manage during the time of Covid-19. Information is sent regularly from the Principal, the school’s two Vice Principals, the Heads of Section as well as of course from teachers.
Diala and Mouin Khanafer
“We would like to thank you for starting the virtual classes of the infant section. Our daughter is very excited about it, it really changed her daily routine and she waits for those classes impatiently every day. We really hope that you will keep those classes running and even expand them during the current lock-down, as they give some relief from the psychological stress our kids are enduring nowadays.”
Serene Musallam Farah
“I would just like to commend you all on the great work you are all doing….we appreciate your efforts and the efforts of our teachers.”
Wafaa Saliby Nakleh
“I have to express to you how pleased we were to see how quickly the BHS team was able to adjust to this “new normal”, ramping up online delivery of educational content to the children. We know of many schools where this did not take place…”
BHS In The Press
As the school was one of the first to kick-off with this remote learning, with the onset of Covid-19 in the country, BHS has often been asked by the press to provide information on its e-learning platforms, sessions and experiences. The school’s overall digital campus provision was detailed extensively in an Annahar article on April 11th and the Online Pastoral Sessions (OPS) offered to the Infant Section were some of the first of their kind in the country and were featured in a Daily Star article on March 31st.
For the full articles in case of restricted access, please click here for Annahar and here for Daily Star. Also, and as mentioned above, the school was also featured in The961 for the wonderful, student-led Prom Committee donation and action with the hunger-relief NGO FoodBlessed.