The extraordinary year of 2020 in review

Looking back at the challenges and inspiring achievements of teachers in a year for the history books

This year tested teachers in ways that could scarcely have been predicted when the school year began.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic escalated, schools were asked to make the unprecedented shift to remote learning.

From March, many Victorian students and their teachers logged in from home or other remote locations, to continue their learning.

Amidst this great change, some wonderful stories of innovation and resilience emerged, including new ways teachers found to make learning fun and engaging.

Our virtual classrooms

Cowes Primary School used Google Classrooms for students in grades 3 to 6, allowing them to ask questions in real time. Teachers sent students pre-recorded video messages each morning — sharing content and showing them how to access learning materials.

Meanwhile, students at Elphinstone Primary School in central Victoria were so engaged they maintained almost 100 per cent attendance rate throughout both periods of remote learning.

The school put this down to innovations such as 'Fun Friday', which included a dance party for younger students, along with maintaining the interest of older students through shorter, more frequent lessons.

Engaging in 'passion projects' such as watching live footage of the penguins at Phillip Island also helped.

Our littlest learners

Despite the challenges, Cambridge Primary School Prep students from Hoppers Crossing responded exceedingly well to their first 100 days of school (remote learning), rising to the challenges set by their teachers. Without the benefits of incidental learning in a classroom, teachers incorporated fun and creativity into weekly lesson plans.

Remote learning also fostered greater connection between teachers and Prep families, who gained a better understanding the curriculum and how it was taught.

What we gained

From an education perspective, this year was like no other. Lessons from the first stint of remote learning were put into practice when remote learning returned in terms 3 and 4. Despite the difficulties, many parents and carers found they gained greater insight into their child's schooling, while some teachers felt energised by the experience of learning new skills and collaborating with colleagues.

As we moved into Term 4 and a return to on-site learning in many settings, November was notable for another big reason: awards season.

Achievements

Events like the Victorian Education Excellence Awards are a valuable opportunity to recognise and thank our educators for their outstanding and innovative work.

This year, Andrew McConchie from Mordialloc College was among winners in 14 categories.

Andrew won both the prestigious Lindsay Thompson Award for Excellence in Education, as well as the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award for his work leading Mordialloc College's literacy program.

'It was fantastic to be acknowledged for English and Literacy teaching, particularly in a year when building the critical analysis skills of our students is clearly so important in helping our young people take ownership of their own beliefs and values,' Andrew said after the awards.

For Andrew and many other teachers throughout the state, 2020 will be a year not to be forgotten.

Across the state, Victoria's educators rose to the challenges before them, proving our state is full of innovative, passionate, flexible and adaptive professionals who can deliver quality education to students in any setting.

Congratulations.

Find out more

To read more about what's happening in schools and other education settings across the state, refer to the Department's Stories from the Education State web page.

If you have a story you'd like to share about the innovation and excellence happening in your school, please contact the Department's Content Strategy and Editorial team via email: content.comms@education.vic.gov.au

The first edition of In Our Classrooms for 2021 will be released on Wednesday 24 February 2021.