Following President Macron’s announcement on March 31st of another French lockdown, École Jeannine Manuel’s Paris and Lille campus were no longer physically accessible to students from April 3rd. Within two days however, students and teachers had seamlessly switched to online classes on Zoom and Google Classroom.
As for the first French lockdown in March 2020, the school made the deliberate choice of not simply replicating regular class timetables online, but instead opted for a reduced schedule of online classes with increased opportunities for independent and collaborative student work. Teachers did not merely “give classes” on Zoom but found creative ways of engaging with their students such as:
- Asking students to read a few chapters of a history book, and then having them each prepare a short presentation, thus encouraging student interaction;
- Setting up small groups (using breakout rooms) to solve a math problem and then compare their answers with each other on Zoom with a teacher ‘present’ on the call;
- Organising individual or small group virtual academic support sessions as needed.
“This was not the easy path,” Elisabeth Zéboulon, Directrice Générale, said. “Reimagining our approach to teaching and learning requires much more time and energy than scheduling a string of Zoom classes to sustain the illusion of students working and thus, learning.”
Students’ active participation in their own learning has always remained a cornerstone of École Jeannine Manuel’s approach. This new mode of online learning gave students, even younger primary school students, the time and freedom they needed to take even greater responsibility for their learning. By approaching distance learning differently, the school was able to avoid the many pitfalls that come with online learning, such as Zoom fatigue, lack of student motivation, and harmful exposure to excessive amounts of blue light.
Once again, evolving circumstances will have put our school’s ability to innovate, our flexibility, and our growth mindset to the test, but we knew we could rely on our entire school community to rise to the occasion and keep pursuing our school’s mission even in this complicated context.Jerôme Giovendo, Head of École Jeannine Manuel Paris