Posted on: Wednesday 29 July 2020
Posted in: Videos and Conversations
Parenting and educating have looked and felt quite different this year. Whilst unlike the State of Victoria, the majority of us have been able to re-establish some normality in the daily experience of school – we share in the observation that things are not quite the same.
There is joy in having a physical presence at assemblies again, and great joy with the reintroduction of music rehearsals, sports’ coaching, the friendly rivalry of Houses at the Athletics Carnival, and rowers back at the Shed with perhaps even the prospect of rowing at Wyaralong Dam in coming weeks. On the Sunday prior to classes resuming, the return of many of our Boarders to the Boarding House, and the knowledge that filtered through the School on the first day that ‘the Boarders are back’, was greeted with a real sense of warmth and appreciation. Many of these experiences make up the ‘soul’ of the School; they create the shared stories which bind us and provide a sense of safety. Mums and dads, teachers and all who work to support our young people know that being part of something bigger than ourselves contributes to how we value ourselves and discover our sense of purpose.
As we watch our young people embrace most of what was familiar, we continue to maintain a watchful eye, looking for signs to assure ourselves that the girls are okay – that they continue to be resourceful, resilient and responsible as they deal with the expected challenges of being a student – meeting the demands of new learning, adjusting to this new normal of explicit hygiene routines and social distancing requirements, in some cases continuing to work remotely, and the particular circumstances being experienced in each family which have been brought about by this pandemic. Psychologist Judith Locke offers this timely advice: focus on the abilities that give your daughter a much better chance of thriving in the future, regardless of any challenges she might face.
Parental overprotection, she observes, ‘reduces young people’s ability to develop resilience as it deprives them of the opportunity to learn to cope with the discomfort or occasional awkwardness that they might feel when stretching themselves in the pursuit of a goal’. Students in Years 7 – 12 are currently reviewing their 2020 Semester 1 results and comparing them with their Semester 2 2019 achievements. Each student has been presented with a copy of her data analytics representing her own achievements as well as box plots identifying her position in the cohort in each subject. Thrive Connect teachers are conferencing with each student in their class this week to discuss the student’s perception of her strengths, development, and the roadblocks she has experienced prior to her identification of how to choose goals that will focus her learning and growth. My recommendation is that this reflection and goal setting process be used as a conversation starter at home. Encouraging your daughter to pursue the adjustment to actions she has identified in her reflection will assist her to respect her ability to take responsibility and be resourceful. Upcoming Parent Teacher Interviews will enable you to extend on this conversation with teachers.
Across the School we are reviewing the data on students’ academic achievement during this COVID period and identifying possible gains as well as gaps which could be the result of different pedagogical approaches with online delivery and adjustments to assessment. Not surprisingly, this is a task which needs to consider environmental factors and students’ wellbeing which have both played a role this year.
In closing, I would like to express my appreciation for the feedback we have received on our Heads of Schools’ weekly letter to parents. Your assistance in identifying for us how we continue to enhance our ongoing relationship is fundamental to our success as a community in meeting the needs of each student.
On Saturday, at our Open Morning, we had the pleasure of hearing from 12 of our Junior, Middle and Senior School girls about the richness of their experience in an all girls’ school, together with a discussion with one of our fathers who spoke about the considerations he took into account when selecting a school for his daughters. Our understanding of ‘what is important’ is enriched on these occasions. I hope as the term continues to have an opportunity to meet with you at Parent Teacher Interviews or at one of our Parent Group meetings. I’m sure we all look forward to a time when schools can host everyone back on our campuses once again.