FROM TEACHER’S DESK TO COMPUTERS: ONLINE TEACHING
Czech School Without Borders, London has swapped school desks for computers due to the coronavirus epidemic at the end of March. Teachers showed a great deal of flexibility when they switched to online teaching literally from one day to another and entered the “unchartered waters” of virtual education.
All classes have immersed themselves in online lessons, from the oldest (Year 9) to the youngest pre-schoolers, including the Harpenden section. Teaching is taking place under strict safety rules on the ZOOM platform. Teachers do everything they can to make the online lessons enjoyable and widely use other platforms such as Kahoot, Learning apps, Fluky, Socrative and Quizlet to make lessons varied and fun.
Pre-schoolers continue learning basic vocabulary through fairy tales and art activities, so it is no surprise that sometimes their teachers show up dressed up as clowns, ladybirds or butterflies. It takes a lot of tolerance and sense of humour on the part of their family members.
Receptions, Year 1 and 2 familiarise themselves with letters, animals, the world around us etc. Year 3 pupils study not only language, but also Czech geography. Pupils and their teachers visit different parts of the Czech Republic every Saturday. Higher year groups study history. Imagine seeing a screen full of students dressed up as famous people from Czech history, such as Karolína Světlá, Božena Němcová or Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová.
Teachers spend a lot of time in front of their computers because their work does not end with online teaching. They assign and correct homework, upload materials (including presentations, interesting links for videos, learning apps) on a platform called Etřída (E-classroom). Pupils (and parents) can also communicatee with their teachers via Etřída. Teaching online has proved to be far more demanding for teachers, as it requires more of their time for preparation and extremely detailed lesson planning.
During the May half-term, Czech School Without Borders, London organized three online workshops. The topic was “Super-heroes and Super-villains”. Pupils created their own characters and comics. They started by making the costume of a super-hero, then a super-villain and ended with creating a super gun from things they could easily find at home, including recyclables.
We also had the chance to meet a few famous Czech illustrators of children’s books and cartoon directors (Galina Miklínová, Michal Žabka and Lucie Lomová). Authors talked about their work, techniques, creative approach and experience, while students had the opportunity to watch short videos of their work and ask questions.
It has been decided that online teaching will take place until the end of this academic year. We will return to St Mary Magdalene Academy in the autumn at the earliest. But it is already clear that online teaching has brought both positives and negatives. The biggest downside is the lack of social contact and interaction with classmates. To elevate this, some teachers allow students short unstructured “catch up time” after each lesson. Pupils can stay and talk or play games together. Among the positives is the introduction of a large quantity of online apps, the variety of games, greater flexibility, discovering new approaches, gathering new inspiration, and last but not least a large dose of patience.
10 YEARS OF THE CZECH SCHOOL 2019!
The Czech School Without Borders (CSWBL) in London is a non-profit organization which provides primary education, in the Czech language for Czech-speaking children living in the UK, complementing the compulsory schooling that they obtain in the United Kingdom. The school was originally founded as a small art club for Czech-speaking pre-school children in October 2007. Since then the school has been officially accredited by the Czech Ministry of Education but most importantly more than 200 children who attend classes and workshops on a weekly basis and their Czech-speaking parents create one of the largest active Czech communities living abroad in the world. In 2009 the organization was registered as the Company with a limited guarantee and in 2012 as the Charity.
All classes are specifically tailored for bilingual children and structured in accordance with the Czech Ministry of Education´s Framework Education equipping children with general knowledge as well as knowledge of Czech language, literature, history and geography. Classes take place every Saturday morning (during term times) in the London Borough of Islington or every Wednesday as an after-school club, Czech Through Play, in Harpenden, Herts. In addition to all regular classes, there is a variety of non-curricular activities – workshops and events – throughout the year to boost the usage of the Czech language.
The CSWBL aims to educate a new Czech-speaking generation brought up in the UK who will not only be able to read and write in Czech but will also feel a sense of belonging to the Czech nation and the Czech Republic.
A Company Limited by Guarantee, no 07323697
Registered Charity Number 1151158