От юли ще можем да ви посрещнем на място в нашия офис и да възобновим занятията на живо. Всеки курсист ще има избора дали да учи английски онлайн или в присъствена форма в Академията. Но как стигнахме до онлайн обучение, беше ли трудна стъпка за нас, какво промени пандемията COVID-19 в нашата Академия, Марк разказва в следващите редове.
“3 months in 2020 (March to June)
Friday 13th March started much like any other day. Teachers were at the school, busy preparing for their evening lessons and for the kids classes at the weekend. The first cases of coronavirus were announced in Bulgaria just the week before, but we were still optimistic that everything would be ok and it would just blow over. Around lunchtime rumors that the government were to make an announcement started swirling and we wondered what exactly could be announced. Few countries were in lockdown at that time and we were still hoping for the best, but admittedly unprepared for the worst.
Around 4pm the announcement was made and almost all businesses were ordered to close. Public gatherings were banned, restaurants and bars closed, it was a surreal moment that I will never forget. There was little to do but to call the students who were due in at 5.30pm and postpone the lessons, as well as calling hundreds of children who were due to come in that weekend.
As I left the school with one of the teachers, trying to process what had just happened we walked down Varna high street where shops were in the process of closing. We wanted to have a drink just to chat and think things over, but by now all bars had closed. I sat on the beach with Bruce, one of the teachers, thinking what could be done with the school and how to carry on. I was worried for my family and friends and for the Academy. It felt like years of hard work building up the school was crumbling down around me and I couldn’t see a way forward. How could we continue the lessons? What about all the staff that we have employed and how would the school survive this? It was the most challenging moment since the day we started the school in 2006.
The next day, Kalina, my business partner and I met up in the school to brainstorm ways to move forward with the business. The reality was that we could not afford to close down the school and just wait until things (hopefully) return to normal. We came to the conclusion that the only way forward was to move to online lessons. This is something that neither of us had done before and we had 400 students to try and accommodate in these lessons. Most of the teachers also had little experience with online lessons, how would we put this all together and will the teachers and the students be receptive to this idea? What platform is best for us and how will we manage so many classes at the same time.
The first day we stayed at the school until after midnight testing every platform we could find, trying to find out which would be would be best. Sunday was much the same and we still hadn’t made a decision. For all our hard work, it seemed like we were stuck and had made little progress. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind, is this it? Is this the end? What shall I do now? Kalina was great and positive and really helped me during these days and we managed to get through it. We decided we had to make a choice and invest in a decent platform and ended up choosing Zoom. It wasn’t cheap for the education package but it seemed to meet our needs. We finally had a plan and a vision going forward.
Now that we had a plan, we had to train ourselves on how to use Zoom, before training the teachers. Over the next few days, we spent many hours familiarizing ourselves with all the function of zoom, ready to present to the teachers. It wasn’t the easiest task, but the teachers were all very understanding and ready to adapt to the new way of teaching.
We had about 3 weeks left of our winter term and these were the first priority. We had to create lessons for all the students online, contact them all, explain how to access the virtual classrooms and luckily with Zoom it went well. Students adapted to the new way of learning and enjoyed the lessons. Teachers did a fantastic job of adapting the way they teach, dealing with all the challenges moving from a real classroom to a virtual classroom. We scanned thousands of pages over the next few weeks and found new ways to present language online which we hadn’t done before. The teachers were very supportive and understanding, something I am very grateful for and proud of them about.
Over the next few months, we continued with online lessons and feedback from students was good. For the whole Spring term we used Zoom. We continue to learn new, innovative ways to teach online and it has almost become a norm 3 months in.
Finally in June we are able to prepare to go back to the classroom and will take measures to protect the students. Now, the focus is on what steps to take, such as social distancing in classrooms, more space, less students, hourly cleaning of surfaces, so that we can get back to teaching in the classroom to offer a more personal touch with the students. Now that we have all taught online, we also found that there is a preference from many to learn online and we are now teaching both online and in the classroom. It was a stressful time for us all at the Academy and a big thank you goes out to our students who stuck with us during the difficult times.”
След като ви разказахме точно какво се случи с Академията през последните тежки 3 месеца, то е време и за добри новини - обявяваме началото на лятото! А какво идва с него? Нашата Лятна академия по английски, разбира се. Очакваме ви в офиса за безплатни входящи тестове от 29 юни до 3 юли от 10:00 ч. до 18:00 ч. или на 4 юли от 10:00 ч. до 14:00 ч. Ако предпочитате да направите теста в друго удобно за вас време, то можете да го попълните и онлайн: тест за възрастни и тест за деца. Регистрацията е до 4 юли включително, стартираме курсовете на 6 юли. При въпроси, моля свържете се с нас на телефони +359 52 622 351 / +359 886 530 858.