Maintaining and Building Community Online

ISPP Elementary Students
Of the many things we have learned over the past months, other than the need for flexibility, is how we value social engagement and community.

We were delighted being back on campus and almost back to “normal” but, unfortunately, it didn’t last for long. Of the many things we have learned over the past months (other than the need for flexibility) is how we value social engagement and community. The challenge of maintaining contact with each other has been heightened and we have been heartened to see the high level of engagement that has persisted virtually across our community. We have also learned different ways to do things and have many takeaways from our time online.

ISPP Online School

The community within the classrooms was maintained and enriched by our teachers who developed routines with students through regular social Zoom meetings which helped the children feel connected to one another. Each day was finished with a read-aloud which many students reported as a highlight of the day.

We have noticed that as we welcome new students virtually to the community they have arrived on campus feeling connected to their classmates. This slow start has very much fostered community in the classroom and the first-day nerves are lessened in the knowledge that children already have friends at school. This has nudged us into rethinking our transition programme, with a virtual component for all students irrespective of the need for an online school.

ISPP Online School

Parent meetings via Zoom have been well attended, and although face to face meetings will continue, the feedback has been so positive that virtual meetings will be here to stay as we embrace this method of connecting with each other while enabling us to accommodate parents who are unable to join us on campus. Teachers have also been offered many online and highly valuable professional development opportunities during this time of travel restrictions, allowing us to continue learning from each other. Our re-accreditation process is also able to be done virtually.

As we look back on a year of profound change, we know that some of the positive changes at least are here to stay. With that, we began the new year with optimism that our online school days are behind us, but are strong in the knowledge that connections and community have been maintained.

Liz Ford | Elementary Principal

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ISPP – International School of Phnom Penh