Posted on May 5, 2020 / Middle School
With the first two weeks of Term 2 now completed, we have been able to gauge the commitment and involvement of our boys via the online learning, and we are very proud to say that they have demonstrated a fantastic approach to their learning. The feedback from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive in terms of our boys’ application and approach to their learning. There are some obvious challenges due to the distance education style, however, with constant communication between staff members, students and families, these challenges have been successfully overcome. I would like to pass on a sincere thank you to all parents and caregivers for your ongoing support and encouragement to your children, the success that we are seeing is a direct result of this support.
One thing that I have noticed both personally in myself and that of my own children, whilst also witnessing this among our boys at school, is that online learning is quite tiring for both students and staff. There was a great article circulated throughout the week [https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200421-why-zoom-video-chats-are-so-exhausting?] that highlighted the reasons behind why your child may be feeling or looking exhausted by the end of each day, whilst highlighting the importance of having our boys move to plenty of off-screen time whilst doing their school work. As the first two weeks have evolved, so too has the approach of staff to how they structure their weekly learning plans and their individual lesson structures. Many staff have recognised the benefits of providing both synchronous and asynchronous opportunities, endeavouring to find an appropriate balance of both that suits the age and stage of each of their classes. It is something that will continue to evolve as Term 2 continues, and it is also providing staff with ideas around future curriculum delivery once we are all back on campus.
Elevate Education are an external organisation that we utilise across many year levels in our Secondary School to help provide our students with lessons on study skills, examination preparation, plus lots more. On Tuesday of last week Elevate provided a webinar session for our parents looking into how parents can assist their children throughout this period of home learning. Some of the key takeaways from the presentation were ensuring consistency in routine; getting out of bed, getting dressed, having breakfast, checking emails, etc. Routine that follows similarly to their regular routine when attending school. Ensuring their space is appropriate for learning; good light, good air flow, good for their posture and provides opportunities for quiet time when needed. They highlighted the importance of getting regular breaks from the screen and using recess and lunch as times to go outside, move around and have a break from the screen.
Our pastoral program over the first two weeks has focussed on “checking in” with our boys. Our staff have run a number of full class lessons as well as a number of small group catch-ups where it is an opportunity for our staff to just chat with each boy to see how they’re going with their at home learning, how things are with them and their family, and checking if there is anything that we can do to help them at this time. Our Resilience Project work continues through this pastoral program and I would like to highlight a day coming up on 11 May – our GEM Day 2. This will be a day where students in the Middle School (boys and girls) will have no scheduled academic classes, however, will be involved in a variety of pastoral sessions focussing on gratitude, empathy and mindfulness (GEM) as well as physical activity, personal growth and development, plus more. Respective Year Level Co-ordinators and Pastoral Mentors will be providing our boys with their itineraries for the day.
Throughout this term a large number of our co-curricular programs have continued to run using our online system. The Green Team, the Social Justice Group, GSA, morning fitness, MAV Debating and ensembles are examples of the many activities that continue to run and provide our students with the opportunity to further develop their skills in areas of interest as well as providing cross-age socialising opportunities. One such program that has been very successful is the Tintern Grammar Buddy Reading Program where students from the secondary program are “buddied” up with Prep to Grade 2 students from the Junior School and spend 15 minutes an evening, up to three evenings a week, listening to the Prep – Grade 2 student read. It has provided many of our boys with a wonderful experience of mentoring a younger boy, and also provided our Prep to 2s with a fantastic connection in the Secondary School. It will be great to see the “buddies” get together face-to-face once we return to school.
It has been mentioned many times around the importance of remaining physically active during this time of social isolation and home learning. Our Sport Department and Physical Education Department have provided a large number of physical activity suggestions and recommendations, as well as looking to provide physical challenges along the way. They have combined with our House system at school to introduce the Strava Challenge. This has seen students register for Strava (set appropriate privacy levels), join their House team and then record their runs/walks to go toward the total for their House. We will be having individual winners as well as an overall House winner – a way for our boys and girls to stay fit in preparation for our House Cross Country when we return.
It has been great to be able to “drop in” to a number of pastoral sessions and classes over the last two weeks and have the opportunity to interact with our boys. We miss having them on campus and really look forward to the day we are all back on site, however, in the meantime it is important that we continue to support each other and to communicate to help ensure that our online learning continues to be successful.