Posted on June 16, 2020 / Middle School
Term 2 of 2020 will have to go down as one of the most interesting terms of teaching that I have certainly ever been a part of. In late Term 1, we made the move to remote (online) learning after beginning the term face-to-face, and then continued this for the first 5 – 6 weeks of Term 2. This shift required a huge change in the approach to learning in our students and the approach to teaching in our staff – needless to say the approach to family life on the home front as well. For this shift to go so well, and for the period of remote learning be so successful, I have absolute praise and admiration in our staff and especially in our boys. It will only be in the future that they actually recognise the benefits of the skills and behaviours they developed in this time and how it is being applied to their current situation.
Having the boys back on campus was the best part of the term. Listening to them tell their stories of remote learning in terms of their successes, their failures, their lack of interaction, and then to hear all them mention how good it was to be back at school with their friends was such a great thing to hear. It highlights the importance for boys especially, to have that sense of belonging outside of their family. For many boys, and especially our boys at Tintern, this is school. They do feel as though they belong to something and it is somewhere they can be confident that they are around friends and staff who are here to support and look after them.
Just this week we had our boys in Year 8 & 9 practice gratitude by reflecting on the term that has just gone. It was fantastic to see the number of boys who wrote how appreciative they were for two main things (sleeping in not included): their support at home from their parents and the support from school by their teachers. This is a great indication of the developing sense of maturity our boys are showing as they move through these middle years at school.
Our sporting competition, EISM, has obviously been interrupted by COVID-19 and it is something that we are still unsure how Term 3 will play out, however, our sports training at school has continued with classes rotating through a variety of activities. We have seen our boys cross-country training, completing body-weight sessions, playing volleyball and table tennis, and even completing an hour long Pilates session. Having undertaken this session with the boys in 8E, I can tell you that it was one of the most entertaining hours I have been a part of for a long time. The groaning, the moaning, their pain of trying to stretch their hamstrings or quadriceps whilst holding their core in a particular way was incredibly funny. It did highlight how important core strength and stretching is for everybody, especially after coming off 6 weeks of sitting at desks at home – hopefully they can continue to find time in their daily lives to stretch and improve their core strength.
One EISM competition that is running this year and we are getting the opportunity to be part of it for the first time is the EISM chess competition. This year three-member teams made up of boys and girls from Years 7 – 9 will compete online against other EISM teams. We are currently running trials in our library to see which three students will represent us in this new competition.
As we look forward to Term 3, and hopefully the continued easing of restrictions by our government, it is timely to remind everyone of some slight structural changes in our pastoral system. As has been communicated previously, I will be taking on the role of Acting Head of Middle School covering both boys and girls, and in doing so will be handing on my position of Year 9 Boys’ Year Level Co-ordinator to Ms Emma Lowing. Emma has been involved with the Middle School for a long time now in her role as Head of Camps across 7 – 9, as well as being a mentor this year for the girls 9A class, as well as a mentor for the Year 9 boys in previous years. She will fulfil the role fantastically and I look forward to working with her for the remainder of this year, alongside Jess Fulton and Alex Pitcher who will remain constants for our boys and their families in their roles as Pastoral Mentors. At Year 8, Naomi Baulch will be adding the co-ordination of Year 8 Girls along side the boys. Naomi will also do a fantastic job in this role as she has taught many of the girls before, as well as being a big part of the girls’ pastoral program in her earlier years at Tintern. At Year 7, Matt O’Brien remains unchanged for our boys as their co-ordinator, and Anthea Watkins also remains as the Year 7 Girls’ Co-ordinator.
I would like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable mid-year break. Please use the time to continue to build on the family connections that were made during the time of remote learning and I look forward to seeing all boys back on campus on Monday 13th July.