The American School of Doha (ASD) is a Pre-K through Grade 12 school that is an educational leader in Qatar and throughout the MENA region. ASD is defined by its proactive teaching and learning environment that consistently engages forward-thinking and is committed to the intellectual and personal development of its students, inspiring and empowering them to become positive, active, global citizens. A Global citizen leads beyond the classroom and stays resilient in uncertain times. “The extent of the current state of the world was not anticipated or predicted, however, ASD was prudent and active in planning for the potential scenarios,” said Dr. Heather Vlach, Director of Teaching and Learning. ASD takes the duty it has to provide its students with a high-quality education very seriously, even if that means instruction taking place outside of the classroom.
Teneen was introduced as a Learning Management Tool to the ASD community in 2017/2018 and was fully implemented into the curriculum during the 2018/2019 school year. Teneen is part of ASD’s commitment to deliver on its vision to extend beyond walls, fostering innovation and encouraging a technology enhanced environment. ASD recognizes that having an online platform is critical, not only to enrich learning, but it serves a larger purpose in cases such as school closure. Teneen Virtual School (TVS) is used to deliver high-quality learning to students online, fulfilling ASD’s value of responsibility.
The ASD Leadership Team began scenario planning for the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-January 2020, with the priority of ensuring that the community was prepared should a school closure occur. At the start of February 2020, ASD began preparing the community for the possibility of going virtual. All students, across all Grades, were expected to log in and submit assignments in ASD’s TVS platform. The goal was to test TVS to ensure all students and parents were able to access the platform. ASD took particular care to ensure that Elementary School parents were equipped to help their children navigate the TVS platform since these students require their parents to help them access online school. Faculty and Staff were diligent in their preparedness for the transition into online schooling, attending training sessions and updating lesson plans accordingly. Thanks to these initiatives, when TVS did kick off on March 11, the transition to the online classroom was relatively seamless. “We felt the school took immediate action preparing a month ahead of the school closing. Children were coming home with reports of briefings and meetings about the potential for an eventual lockdown and virtual school. When it happened teachers were always available to answer questions and doubts, so we felt confident about the transition,” said ASD Parent Elisabete.
ASD takes the commitment it has to effectively communicate with parents and the community seriously during these uncertain times. ASD Director Dr. Tom Hawkins has held multiple Virtual Coffee and Conversation meetings with over 150 parents via Zoom in order to gauge feedback and provide updates from the Leadership Team on scenario planning and preparation. These meetings have been conducted in addition to the weekly memos that have gone out to the community. All divisions at ASD have held virtual meetings over Zoom with parents and conducted parent and student feedback surveys, seeking assessments of TVS in order to garner ideas for improvement. Teachers then take that feedback to improve online instruction. Nick Mitchell, Middle School Associate Principal accredits TVS’s success to its teachers saying “the single most important reason for our successful transition was our outstanding teachers. They went above and beyond to transform their teaching from the classroom to the home to ensure that all our students continue to learn in collaborative, creative, and authentic ways”. There’s no question that virtual learning is more challenging than normal school, but our teachers have done an amazing job adapting. Teachers have created an environment where students do not feel like they are at home at a desk alone, “I was expecting TVS to just be an email from my teacher every day outlining what to do. But TVS allows teachers and students to connect very similar to being in a classroom” said Joseph, a Junior at ASD. Teachers are also trying to make TVS fun! In elementary, birthdays are still being celebrated with classes, online games are happening in the Middle School, and some classes have been practicing salsa during class in High School!
Although the transition to TVS has been seamless thanks to the actions taken to prepare the community for school closure and the thorough communication ASD has provided to the community, having school online is not ideal for any educational entity. ASD understands that although students will continue to learn, they will miss the social and emotional connections made while physically going to school. With this in mind, ASD teachers have taken every effort to ensure students continue their social and emotional connections with classmates and teachers. Grade 1 teacher Sweta Agrawal says “I try to keep my TVS videos fun by learning to use new technology using things kids enjoy like green screen, TikTok, and time-lapses. My own children are often in the videos. In one video my 3-year-old son helped me show my students how to make a smoothie. In another video, my 6-year-old and I jumped in puddles and told my students that their homework was to find the biggest puddle to jump in. Through our daily connections, I want my students to know that even though we are not physically together their teacher is still thinking about them every day. We are challenging them to do their best, cheering them on, watching their growth and marveling at how capable they are.”
ASD Faculty, Staff and Parents have put in an amazing effort to ensure TVS is successful, but the success of TVS comes down to the resilience of each ASD student. Although ASD on campus learning is closed, virtual learning continues. ASD is proud to teach dedicated and resilient students who are leading the way for learning in Qatar and beyond.