Teaching and Learning
The challenge over the past few months has, of course, been the constant changes due to the COVID-19 situation, from face to face teaching to remote learning and we are now going through that whole process again. The strain that this has created for all stakeholders has been immense, particularly for those in Year 12 and their team.
What has been wonderful to watch is the resilience displayed by all and the support given when anyone of the stakeholders had a 'wobble'. We all experienced those moments, hours or days, at some point in the process.
Most of this year level applied themselves and adjusted to the new situation. There were a few who attempted to miss classes etc. but these were quickly addressed by staff communicating with home as quickly as possible. Some students did fall behind with assessment tasks but soon got back on track when school returned to face to face teaching.
The lessons learned for staff were that, it is perfectly acceptable to change the nature of a task to suit circumstances and that students are able to complete about half of the amount of work you would normally have expected from them. This will be valuable wisdom moving forward.
There were a couple of families who were less than supportive and this caused stress for some members of staff who emailed, sent SEQTA messages and constantly left phone messages however, the families never replied. My advice was to continue to inform via SEQTA and not to stress as at the end of the day, they were going above and beyond and the student and family were not responding.
The situation with those students was addressed as soon as they returned to school. They were from families where the parents and caregivers have a limited understanding of English and were really out of their depth with the whole situation. We are thinking how we can best meet those needs in the future.
Year 11 and 12
The VCE students really applied themselves very well, some going above and beyond expectations, most tried hard and a few could have done better – much the same as usual really. We did find that those quieter members of the community found their voices a little and were asking questions and seeking clarification far more than they would have when face to face teaching and learning was taking place.
Those who were a little laid back in their approach to remote learning, had more than a bit of catching up to do prior to the reports going out. Lesson learned there about the importance of being organised.
For the Year 12 teachers the last term has been one of constant change and anxiety through not knowing. When we first went in to lock down, the VCAA advised, through all study areas, that all will be well. The examinations were to be delayed until probably the last week in November, which would have given us an extra three weeks. Assessment tasks were to be reduced and some of the Unit 3 tasks and results could be moved into Semester 2 which is normally when Unit 4 is taught.
We all relaxed a little and adjusted the courses as per advice from the various study managers and professional organisations and then Daniel Andrews announced that the exams would start, on which is only one week later than the original date. Assessments tasks were reduced very minimally and, while the examinations will be slightly altered for most subjects, no examples of these papers will be made available.
This put stress levels back up again for some subject teachers and planners had to be altered yet again. All of these changes were presented in a very calm manner to the students, ‘let’s just go with the flow’ and ‘one step at a time’, was the approach that was taken but behind the scenes it was a little frantic for a while.
We also have a few anxious birds amongst our Year 12 cohort, who have also put pressure on staff without meaning to. Wanting to know everything now when no one knows anything – this has been exhausting for staff to deal with and a great deal of patience has been extended and constant reassurance given.
For the Year 11’s who aren’t doing a Year 12 subject, life has been different, but they have plodded on. There is much less pressure in Year 11 for both staff and students as we decide on the assessment tasks and how they are to be executed. We have to ensure we deliver the prescribed content and have to prove that the students have met the learning outcomes, but it is far more relaxed.
Those who fell behind with their work, during remote learning, managed to get back on course. This cohort will go through a Reflect and Pivot exercise with Kim Powell at some point during Term 3, to ensure all have gained insight from the various learning situations they have been thrown into thus far this year.
All assessment data was entered in time for the reports to be sent out at the end of term; staff worked very consciously on this.
One Year 10 student was found to have plagiarised an assessment piece, and an authentication committee was formed to assess the situation. The student was counselled and re submitted the assessment task after having completed it under test conditions at school. Parents were fully informed. This was a powerful learning curve for the student.
All VCE tasks completed at home were done under strict conditions:
- Had to be completed in a set time period on a given day – task released to students through TEAMS or SEQTA (most times both) at the start of the set time
- All were open book to ensure a fair and level playing field
- Task had to be submitted before or on the given time
This system worked very well.
Reflection of the remote learning period
Using Office365 Teams was a great success – all enjoyed this after a few teething problems. Staff and students really liked the ‘chat’ lines that are available on TEAMS. This is what gave a voice to the quieter members of the community. All said they would continue to use this. Students prefer using TEAMS to SEQTA, because it is similar to the other platforms they use in social media.
Both students and staff felt that the normal amount of work that was set was too much for remote learning – students reported that processing information took them much longer to do. (We regularly sent questionnaires out to the Year 12’s.
We would extend this to the Year 10’s in the present situation.) The Year 12’s acknowledged that for them, teachers had no choice but to forge ahead. Many worked for many hours into the evening, to ensure all reading etc. was completed.
Teachers need to set a time after which they do not work. Many teachers were answering enquiries at 11.00pm or working into the small wee hours on their presentations for the next few days. The work completed by our Senior Maths teachers, went way above and beyond but they felt that they had to provide that detail for their Year 12 students. Teacher burn out is a real concern and staff need to be encouraged to balance their time.
Make every day count, is the Senior Years motto and this thinking is behind our focus for all of our Pastoral Care (PC) programme.
The COVID-19 situation rather halted our PC programme but we have recently spent time rebuilding and restructuring this, to suit our present circumstances. Besides Make every day count, as the foundation of our PC classes, we also use the Lutheran leadership and formation framework for Lutheran education, Growing Deep, and have done so since the first Year 12 went through. Although this was designed for teaching staff the section on, Growing Oneself, it has proved to be a valuable tool for SY’s PC.
After discussion we decided to move to the Beyond Blue, Beyou programme as it offered us more resources than the Black Dog programme we have previously been using. This programme deals with specific mental health problems. It also offers resources to help with the staff mental health.
The following is an outline of the programme for the coming term:
Involves building an understanding of oneself being ‘in tune’ with one’s own biases, assumptions thoughts and feelings. It is having an awareness of how these impacts our decision making capacity or how one presents to others. It includes the capacity to control or suspend thoughts, emotions and judgements and be comfortable in ambiguous or stressful situations without making reactive decisions.
Awareness of our own thoughts and feelings.
Aware of the impact our ‘self-talk’ has on us.
How do we control and manage emotions?
How to avoid judging others or being over judgmental of yourself.
Beyond Blue – Brave programme. Interactive.
- Session 1: Anxious Body signs and Relaxation
- Session 2: Anxious Body signs and Relaxation
- Session 3: Victory over your fears
- Session 4 & 5: Finding solutions to your problems
Learning and adapting.
Involves the desire to learn and grow in one’s school life and beyond. It includes being open-minded to new information and feedback from others, carefully thinking about how others have interpreted a situation and being prepared to consider the reactions of others. This may mean rethinking our own reactions. Stop, think then react. This is one of the marks of a good leader.
Is open to change and improvement.
Modifies actions and decisions.
Rethinks and re plans moving forward.
How do we remodel our thinking to prevent over reaction?
The first three sessions of this term will be spent with Kim Powell completing Reflect and Pivot. Looking at lessons learned from last term, how that influenced us, what was learned and how to use that knowledge moving forward.
This will be followed by a session on: Rethinking our own reactions. Understanding what it is to gain wisdom.
Stop, think then react.
Involves the ability to maintain a positive outlook or perspective, even in the face of obstacles or setbacks. It draws strength from the promises of God and includes being optimistic about the future. It is all about warmth, faith and hope in our relationships. It is about building a culture of encouragement and support, particularly during times of change.
Being positive with yourself and others.
What it is to demonstrate resilience.
Being enthusiastic and optimistic.
Year 12’s will work through the Beyond Blue SenseAbility resilience building programme for students.
Topics to be explored:
- Helpful thinking and self-talk.
- Planning and time management.
- Sense of future.
- Passing on positive thoughts – Year level to create a booklet to pass on to the Year 11’s.
- Students will also have the Brave programme to help with anxiety.
COVID-19 PROCEDURES IN THE SY BUILDING
These are as per our COVID-19 Risk Assessment:
- Sanitising when entering the building
- Sanitising when entering and leaving a room
- Washing hands as often as possible
- Sanitising prior to eating
- Social distance as much as is physically possible. Classrooms to be opened to larger spaces, where possible, and teachers' offices to be reogranised
- Bags are to be carried with the minimum amount of materials in them - the locker bays are not to be used
Plan for Term 3:
- We are requesting that all students and teachers wear masks, where practicable
- Year 11 will enter from the front door by the Library and go straight to their PC rooms after having their temperature taken
- Year 12 will enter via the locker bay doors and proceed to their PC rooms from there, after having had their temperature taken
- Students will leave by these doors at the end of the day
- Year 12 students may leave at lunchtime, if they have a double study period on the afternoon
We continue to make every day count and live in hope and the surety that:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. — Hebrews 13:8