Our Director of Academics, Mrs. Danielle Mignault, has worked exceedingly hard with our faculty to create a world-class—and I would argue best-in-class—Synchronous Learning environment for our students. Read more about how she achieved this:
From my perspective, synchronous learning has ended up being the same experience from a pedagogical and curricular perspective as if the students were on campus. Certainly, there are many advantages to being on campus—in our beautiful buildings, in Merrickville engaged in our boarding program with our faculty and staff in person—but from an academic perspective, it is the same as being in the classroom. From March to June 2020, teaching synchronously, there was no sacrifice in time with students or quality of learning. I was able to teach MORE content, due to the focused interactions, in all of my classes than I normally would have on campus. In all three of my classes, I covered an extra chapter, making the students that much more prepared for their next grade, or university. Students still completed group work and they received even more one-on-one time with me using office hours. We had just as many lab activities as they would have on campus and we had hands-on experiential learning activities outside—just as we would have done on campus.
Synchronous learning is great because the students can stay safe at home, but still experience our usual high-quality education, to the same extent as they would get on campus—and that is saying something! Students can still write their answers on the board as they would do in class, small class sizes mean all students are forced to engage and participate in classes, there is no “hiding” even though they are in class online.
Attendance is taken at the beginning of each class. If students are not in class, or they are not participating, not doing homework, etc. the parent gets an email right away. This means that students cannot slack, miss class, not participate, etc.
The students can stay safe at home, minimize the risk of getting COVID and we can guarantee our world-class education and the MPS Promise (check it out on our website, here: https://www.merrickprep.com/the-mps-promise.html). They don’t “lose out” on anything, even in the hands-on science classes. We are thinking outside of the box and getting creative while still providing those experiences (butterflies from caterpillars, sugar crystals, quadrat experiment outside, 3D geometry, electricity demonstrations using balloons and the kitchen sink, real live drama plays with an audience, and the list goes on!).
Not only all of this but every class is video recorded. The students can re-watch lessons if they need some more time to process. They can re-watch their own presentations helping them become better prepared for IELT’s and improving their English language skills.
As a parent I want to know that:
- My child is getting a high-quality education — we are doing that and then some!
- My child is attending class live with a teacher — we are doing that and I (as a parent) will be informed if my child is not in attendance.
- My child can get support from the teacher if they don’t understand something — we are doing that with office hours and teachers always respond to extra help requests quickly.
- My child is interacting with their classmates — we are still doing group work and peer discussion daily.
- My child isn’t just sitting in front of a computer — this is where we are really excelling – students are getting hands-on practical learning with experiments and drama plays and outside learning VIRTUALLY. This is HUGE and goes well above and beyond what other schools are doing. Students in my math class are solving problems by hand on paper and uploading pictures. They are not missing out on the pen and paper learning when it is appropriate.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! I really think the students will benefit tremendously from our synchronous learning platform while ensuring their safety, which is always our #1 priority. There are no sacrifices in any academic area. They get a fantastic education, they get hands-on learning, they do group work, they have access to teachers live in class and outside of class for extra help, we have tutors available if needed, we are guiding students step-by-step through university applications. Every step of their academic experience will be worked through exactly as it would have been here on campus. Students are still gaining the life skills they need from our weekly Advisor Curriculum.
What we are offering is NOT “online classes” where the content is posted, and the student learns on their own—far from it! I am a HUGE fan of our system. I have first-hand experience teaching our students through our synchronous platform. It went better than even my highest hopes. Watching my final grade 11 presentations and oral exams in June proved to me just how effective our system is, and our students have benefited from it greatly, with 100% university acceptance to their first choice university and 73 university offers to our 15 graduates. Perhaps one of our grade 11 students, Khaled Beyk from Syria, summed it up best:
“I LOVE MPS synchronous learning! Having actual live class every day with a teacher, with assignment deadlines and no ability to “fall off the wagon” is great! I am actually doing well in my MPS synchronous courses because there is a clear structure, support, and deadlines that the teachers support me in achieving, whereas in other online courses you do not have a teacher and the structure is very loose, with no specific due dates for assignments, so it is really easy to fall behind, especially if you don’t understand a topic – you are on your own. I am really happy with MPS’s synchronous learning platform and the support I get from the teachers – it is far better than traditional online experiences.”Khaled Beyk Grade 11, from Syria. May 7, 2020