25 May 2020

While the outbreak of COVID-19 has challenged schools all over the world, the transition from the classroom to online learning at Aspire Academy happened in a very smooth way. This is related to the organization’s pro-active vision and the innovative approach to education. Mathematics teacher Kean Zane is an American-Lebanese, who has been working at Aspire for five years. In the following interview he gives an insight into the work behind the scenes of Aspire’s school and explains how the Academy is getting ready for the upcoming Grade 12 exams in June.

Can you tell us why Aspire has managed to move to online learning in such a smooth way?
The reason is very simple. Our higher management, principal and master teachers have a pro-active vision of training, developing and improving the teachers and their skills to guarantee a very high standard of education. This high level of competence pays off in extraordinary situation like this. Furthermore, our students were already used to learning online when they were travelling abroad, so they knew how it worked and adapted very quickly.

 I can imagine that the parents must have been quite happy about it?
Yes, and we got a lot of positive feedback, which makes us all very proud. It proves that the system that has been established at Aspire Academy works and that it is the right decision to invest in the professional development of teachers, which allows us to educate and fulfill the learning needs of our student-athletes in the best possible way.

What is the main difference between teaching in a classroom and in an online session?
Online learning has a lot of positive aspects, but of course we miss the face-to-face interactions.  When you are physically in classroom as a teacher you can easily pick up the body language of students and you know exactly what they need. In a classroom setting, students express their feelings right away rather than when they are sitting in front of a computer at home. The good thing about online learning is that we made using technology very easy for the students and there are hardly any interruptions or misbehavior issues.

Has COVID-19 virus been integrated into the curriculum?
We taught students a lot about the virus and how they can deal with the new situation. We even assigned them a project as part of their assessment where they were asked to make a research and to present their work using a video record while applying the presentation skills to educate them about Corona and we saw that the students really did a nice job and took the precaution measures seriously.

The final exams for Grade 12 students are coming up in June. What can you tell us about the preparations?
The regular online classes for Grade 12 finished on May 7, but they have been doing revision sessions since then. For the exams itself the school is collaborating with the Education and Student Affairs Department, the Crisis Management Team at Aspire and Aspetar to arrange precautionary measures that guarantee the safety and wellbeing of the students and the staff during the time of the exams at Aspire.

I can image that the safety rules are going to be very strict.
Definitely. The exams are going to take place in the Multipurpose Hall in Aspire Dome, the desks will be put in a distance of at least two meters, we’ll provide the student-athletes with all the required tools, everything will be sanitized with every step, before, during and after the exam. Everybody will wear masks and gloves. The students will come shortly before the beginning of the exams and leave Aspire right afterwards and we are going to make sure there will be no gatherings at the gate. We understand that they missed each other and might want to chat, but safety comes first.


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