The current global health crisis has required the organisation to take extraordinary steps to connect devotees and continue with Sai Spiritual Educational programs across the country.
The National Education Wing in conjunction with the Regional Education Coordinators have come up with innovative and creative solutions to keep Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students and their parents connected to SSE during these challenging times. The key purpose of these initiatives is to strengthen our faith in Swami and help create a barrier through which the children and parents can astutely filter fear and anxiety.
The following factors were taken into consideration before commencing the virtual SSE sessions:
- How can we remain committed to delivering SSE and keep SSE very much alive during these unprecedented times?
- How can we get parents involved in SSE sessions and show parents what a typical SSE session constitutes?
- How can we take this opportunity given by Swami to explore online avenues for SSE Australia which can be used in the future if necessary?
- How can we support centres and regions who do not have the necessary tech support to run similar sessions whilst at the same time how can we empower centres to come up with their own initiatives?
- How best can we involve all the SSE teachers across the country and give them opportunities and training to present in a virtual setting?
Virtual SSE Lesson Overview
The live virtual SSE classes are delivered using a platform that allows children in different locations to interact through the available collaboration tools, see the learning material and engage in learning activities. The children can interact through the chat function by responding to the questions and polls raised during the session.
Attendee feedback is captured and provided to the presenters after each session. Feedback is also used to improvise future sessions. The core team holds weekly debrief meetings after each session. Each session is recorded, and the recordings will be shared with the education team and SSE parents and uploaded on the SSE resource website.
Presenters have been selected from all states across Australia. Criteria for selection include being SSE teacher trained, have been an SSE teacher in the past two years and those comfortable to present in a virtual setting. The presenters are encouraged to choose topics that will help children and parents navigate through this difficult phase. Topics that will replace fear, worry, anxiety and doubt with love, positivity, acceptance, faith and most importantly gratitude for having Swami in our lives. This is an optional offering, but parents and children are highly encouraged to tune in to these sessions together and benefit from these sessions. The weekly virtual initiative is a temporary solution only and will not ever replace a conventional SSE classroom environment that lovingly nurtures the triple partnership of SSE.
The details of the Virtual SSE classes that are being run are as below:
- Frequency – Weekly on Sunday mornings. Commenced on 29 March 2020 and the lessons are expected to continue until face to face SSE classes resume.
- SSE Groups: Groups 1 & 2 combined session and Groups 3 & 4 combined session. The lessons are not catered for Pre-SSE although they can join the Group 1 & 2 session.
- Timing – 10.00 AM to 11.00 AM (AEST) for Groups 3 & 4 and 11.20 AM to 12.20 AM (AEST) for Groups 1 & 2.
Virtual SSE Session Benefits
As of 19 April 2020, we have completed four weekly sessions and the feedback received so far has been overwhelmingly positive with parents asking for continuation of classes until face to face classes resume. When we started, we knew we were stepping into an unknown territory however with Swami’s grace the sessions have been well received by parents, teachers, coordinators and children.
Key benefits of these sessions include:
- The children are exposed to a variety of presenters who present different teaching techniques in a myriad of creative ways and the children are really enjoying the variety each presenter brings to the lesson.
- Parents are so enthusiastic about this opportunity given to them to witness an SSE class and are understanding that Swami’s teachings are invaluable for their children and are now more appreciating the effort that is put by all the teachers and coordinators in running face to face classes.
- Teachers are excited to learn from their peers especially on how to engage and connect with the children and these sessions have presented a huge learning and development opportunity for the SSE teachers.
- The sessions have been beneficial to children in regional areas where SSE classes are not held or for members of smaller centres where SSE classes are not regularly held. The sessions have also been attracting SSE Group 4 children who do not attend SSE regularly due to HSC and other commitments.
- For the organising team the creativity each presenter brings to this virtual class has been amazing to watch and the enthusiasm with which the children and parents participate has been heart-warming.
On average 450 children are attending the sessions every week. All feedback received echoed the same thoughts with parents being very appreciative and asking us to keep going. Most parents have said that they are learning with their children.
Parents of Groups 1 & 2 children have been actively sending completed group and home-work activities. These activities are presented in a video at the start of the Group 1 & 2 session every week. We have also been approached by some other countries for the recordings of the sessions and the lesson format.
It has truly been a blessing to have been able to do these virtual SSE classes for SSE children and parents across Australia and we are extremely grateful to the fabulous tech team for their ongoing support, the presenters and the loving support given by the entire education team. We pray that Swami continues to guide us as we offer this initiative at His Divine lotus feet and pray that all involved experience Swami’s presence and love through this initiative.