As I walk around the TIS main campus, I think to myself how quickly things can change. A couple of months ago, no teachers here at TIS would have imagined let alone planned to become educators in a virtual world. Yet, here we are. Tema International virtual School. The siren has fallen silent, no one is rushing off to a lesson, school as we knew it is now a virtual structure.
Having a virtual school does not mean there is no school; on the contrary, the virtual school has kept alive as much of the structure of the physical school day as it can. We have our weekly assemblies, we have our timetabled lessons and we have some after school activities and clubs. Life goes on. Our virtual school has full teacher participation and support, a complete curriculum of planned lessons. Lessons start at 8:30 am after students have had their breakfast and end at 4pm. A difference between being at school and attending virtual school, is the strength of the ATL, Self-Management. Students are expected to be up, dressed, fed and ready for lessons on their own, especially if parents and guardians have to rush off to work. At times, students must remind themselves of their self-management to help us keep the virtual school running.
The attendance register is marked and teachers worry over every student who misses a lesson. Is the student well? How long are they going to be away from lessons? Just as with boarding school, teachers expect that someone will provide a valid reason why students will be absent from lessons – at this point, home/school links have to work even better than before.
Parents and guardians can prepare teachers for absences by sending messages to the school, but this can only be done if they know what timetable their wards are following. We are lucky to have all the information parents could want in one place i.e. ManageBac, our school information management system. It has always allowed remote access to the teaching and learning of our students, and this is not a new development like our virtual school. Parents can receive emails, school notices to their wards, they can check attendance and progress in any subject. In our virtual school, parents can continue to check attendance as long as a password to access this information has been given to them.
Students are aware that the school structure they left behind when they went home still exists in the virtual school and that lessons are on-going for Grades 7-11 without exception. They should keep to a routine that allows them to be ready for their lessons during the day. Once in lessons, students should be visible by video or by interacting with their teachers when spoken to in order to be recognised as present by their teachers. All essential agreements between themselves, their teachers and their peers still hold.
Parents who would like to support their wards may visits this website for more help with navigating ManageBac.
Students may share their timetables with other family members: and parents may find out more about viewing the timetables of their wards by visiting this website below.
If you need assistance in accessing ManageBac, please email the Principal: [email protected]