In many ways this term has been a time of opposites. Although the teachers have been very busy at home preparing work for the learners, the school building has remained very quiet without the precious children attending. Each teacher has put her heart into sending work online or in printed form and the parents have had the fun and joy of doing the tasks with their own child/ren.
Hopefully the rest of the year will be… opposite to distance learning… a little noisier and normal!
Mrs G Haux, Head of Pre-primary
The learners started the term on 21 April with revision work which was sent to the parents. We communicated in various ways such as email, telephone, WhatsApp, SMS and even Skype. From 18 May we began with a file system where hard copies of the learners’ workbooks were made and then delivered to or fetched by the parents. The completed work was returned at the end of the week.
Learners’ work was explained in different ways and the feedback was very positive. Calls from parents often began in this way: “Mam, I am not a teacher, but I am trying…” After marking the work done at home, it is obvious that the children have learned and practised numerous concepts. We realise what a learning curve it has been for parents and children but they have come through with flying colours! With the Lord’s help we will continue doing as He guides.
Mrs L Stegen, Head of Foundation Phase
The normal second term has become a hazy memory as learners and staff eased into the realities of online schooling since April. Online schooling became the new normal.
Despite the radical shift in focus from the classroom to the screen, I do feel that the learners managed superbly considering the new skills and many adjustments they made in a short space of time. Some learners managed the new platform very well while others found it challenging to work without the teacher standing shoulder to shoulder. Teachers maintained the pace of the curriculum through the term although some skills will require more practise later in the year.
Things that make school school such as the IP outing have been set aside momentarily but there are many other creative ways to stay connected and children are so adaptable. We look forward to the mid-year break and then new and innovative ways of schooling in the third term.
Mrs E Gouws, Head of Intermediate Phase
Whether one could still call online teaching ‘school’, is debatable. But the fact is that without the learners, DSS is not the same place. We missed the children. We missed the parents and we missed teaching: standing in front of a group of learners who are eager to learn is not the same as sitting in front of a computer screen and giving instructions via online posts, in channels, on Teams.
Despite the challenges, management equipped teachers to assist and guide the learners to the best of their ability. Learners who fell behind with online work were phoned, e-mails sent and hours of technical assistance were given. Hard copies were also sent to areas both far and near.
Preparing for the learners’ safe return remains a priority. DSS has been made a safe space for all. Classes have been re-arranged, social distancing markers painted on the floors and corridors, information posters put on walls, sanitisers installed, safety gear ordered, etc. One thing parents can be sure of: DSS will look after your children as if they are our own.
Finally, academic work is an important aspect at any teaching and learning institution, and “will my child cope with all the work they have missed and during the remaining months?” is surely a question many parents will ask. We can assure every parent that this aspect has been given a lot of thought. We are aware of learners’ needs and abilities, and therefore syllabi and assessment requirements have been, adjusted to accommodate learners.
We wish your children a happy June holidays and hope they are as eager to start ‘real school’ as we are for them to return.
Mr D van Straten, Head of Senior Phase
If there has ever been a screen term at DSS, it was most definitely Term 2 of our oh-so-unusual-Covid-19 year, 2020.
FET-teachers and learners alike sat at home staring into screens for hours – or so it seemed but the truth was that there was so much happening behind the screen(s). We discovered one another there. In every assignment someone appeared – a learner between the lines of her essay, a face with a voice in every word – a precious soul with a heart and emotions. We created, assigned, turned in, marked, corrected, advised, taught, encouraged and enjoyed one another in this world of screens. It became a place where we could gather to hear God’s message in assembly every day. We kept in step with the curriculum to a large extent which we are thankful for. The assessments, though, had to step back but be warned, just for a while.
Once the teachers returned to school in their real bodies, another type of screen awaited us: screening every day before entering and exiting the school premises.
To the learners: We are fit and ready. We can hardly wait to see you again, be it behind your masks but at least in your real bodies!
Mrs A du Preez, Head of FET Phase
Head of Academics
Our term of online/offline school was challenging, interesting and often invigorating – blowing fresh winds through stale routines. Lockdown has been a time of reflection and growth; an opportunity to exercise some unused “muscles”. When I was tempted to find this journey too long and the unchartered waters turbulent, I was reminded of the poem Columbus written by Joaquin Miller. The captain encouraged his despairing crew with these words which ring down through the ages to us all: “Sail on! sail on! and on!”.
We look forward to the children’s return, and in the words of the poet:
Then pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness. Ah, that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck —
A light! a light! at last a light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
On an academic note: There are numerous websites that offer school children video lessons, additional notes and past exam papers. The good sites generally require a once-off subscription for the year, but their costs are often not exorbitant.
It can be daunting to navigate one’s way through all the options, but we have found the following two organisations to be useful for high school learners, especially for Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Accounting. One advantage is that both are sites aligned to the South African curriculum. We cannot, however, vouch for the suitability of the Life Sciences material.
Finding financial help for school leavers can be challenging. This website collates information on bursary schemes for South African university students.
We wish our parents and learners a wonderful holiday and look forward to Term 3.
Mrs H Pretorius, Head of Academics