Using the ClassDojo platform, our teachers will post pre-recorded video lessons and additional activities that your children can access online. There are certain steps required to link to ClassDojo and our teachers have been busy e-mailing invitations to all parents over the past few days, so many of you will no doubt already be aware of this new online learning initiative.
Although we are very excited about this new development, I request that parents take note of the following:
- The very sudden implementation of the national lockdown afforded us no time to prepare for online teaching. Our ability to offer both Google Classroom and ClassDojo has only been possible through the monumental commitment of our teachers to get these platforms established. Mr Reed, our Intersen Phase Head of Department deserves enormous credit for driving this process, which has been achieved exclusively through digital communication and collaboration. Mrs Williams must also be credited for the groundwork she did on ClassDojo.
- This platform, like anything that is new and untested, is going to have teething problems, one of which will undoubtedly be connectivity. We request that parents and children exercise patience with us as we will need time to perfect the delivery of this service.
- Please note that ClassDojo can be accessed on a variety of devices, including cell phones, and for this reason, we are confident that all of our children will in some form be able to benefit from this new service.
- We will not be posting new content every day. New uploads will be available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. However, children can still access ClassDojo on any day of the week to catch up on work or lessons they may have missed.
- Please also be aware that there will be a limited number of videos and activities posted on ClassDojo in each of the classrooms on the above-mentioned days. Preparation time for these lessons is longer than for standard lessons that are delivered in a conventional classroom as our teachers don’t have access to all of the resources at home that are available to them at school. Therefore, please don’t expect a full day of instruction from our teachers on ClassDojo. Only once each individual teacher has been able to build up their personal lesson database, will we be in a position to offer a service that resembles that of a conventional school day.
- There will be no “live” video teaching at this time. All video material on ClassDojo will be pre-recorded and can be accessed and played at any time of the day.
- We are endeavouring to reach all of our John Wesley School learners by sending their ClassDojo activation details to them via e-mail. However, we are acutely aware that there are many parents who can only access their e-mails at work and for obvious reasons won’t get the ClassDojo notification. We are attempting to address this by sending SMS messages to parents who don’t respond to our initial e-mail, with a request that they provide us with an alternative e-mail address for delivery of the ClassDojo notification.
- It is important to note that not all of our teachers have access to the technology required to establish a classroom on ClassDojo. We are working on a contingency in this regard, however, in the interim, we request that parents are cognizant and understanding of the fact that the limited Internet coverage and availability in our country is going to make it extremely difficult for us to offer as comprehensive an online service as we would like to.
- ClassDojo is not an alternative to Google Classroom. The two online platforms must be used in conjunction with each other. Teachers will continue to post new content and activities on Google Classroom during the lockdown. ClassDojo was established so that our teachers can connect with their children in a more personal manner and offer added instruction so that parents are not constantly burdened by this responsibility. Google Classroom did not offer us the option to expand our service to include video instruction, which is why we opted for the addition of the ClassDojo online teaching platform.
The national lockdown has challenged us in many ways. Not only has it placed an inordinate amount of pressure on our finances, but it has also exacted a heavy emotional toll on all us, including our children, who have suffered more than we realise. Isolation and lack of personal connection are contrary to the natural instincts and inclinations of our children.
Although we as adults are similarly affected, we generally have the emotional maturity and capacity to logically process what is happening in South Africa and can better contextualise and deal with these emotions, whilst still maintaining some measure of optimism that our circumstances will improve. Our children are generally not as well endowed with this degree of experience, resilience and foresight and the fear this instils in them are very real, even if this is not always outwardly apparent, due to their generally playful demeanours.
It is during this time that we must do everything in our power to introduce as much normality into their lives as possible. To our John Wesley School children, normal is being at school each day, with their teachers and their peers, and through our online initiatives, we are hopeful that we can reintroduce a sense of normality into a situation that is excruciatingly abnormal and stressful for them. By establishing personal engagement via video with our children we are hopeful that in some measure we can help them to recapture that sense of community, safety, comfort and stability that John Wesley School represents in their lives and in so doing provide them with much needed emotional support.
At John Wesley School, we not only ensure that your children make meaningful academic progress, but we also facilitate their emotional development and we are not going allow the isolation imposed on us by this national lockdown to prevent us from achieving these objectives. The challenges we collectively face as a society at present have only motivated us to work harder for you and our children. We will innovate and improvise and draw upon every means and resource at our disposal to secure the future that your children deserve.
May God bless you and your children and keep you safe.