Curriculum Matters

September Curriculum Matters

Term 3 has continued much as Term 2 ended, but this time we were more prepared for the challenges and daily experiences which remote learning brings to the table. Whilst staff members worked many hours of overtime in Term 2 to learn new skills and master unfamiliar technology and new platforms, they were able to embark on the new semester with more confidence in their ability and skills to create new and engaging ways to lead students through the coursework and activities planned for Term 3. There has been much hard work undertaken and many steadfast endeavours on the part of our students and staff, in the face of weeks of living and working in our ‘bubbles’. It is a credit to all that their patience and resilience has led them successfully through these past 10 weeks. No one says it has been easy, but the ability to forge ahead and find the silver lining in each day is an attribute which has served many within our community well.

It was gratifying to see so many parents taking advantage of the recent opportunity to participate in our all-important Year 7-12 Student Progress Conferences. Having missed out on the scheduling of formal conversations in Semester 1, these sessions provided an excellent opportunity for teachers to connect with families and celebrate the success and growth of our students in the sometimes more challenging circumstances of recent months. It was especially helpful to have so many more students actively participating in these three-way conversations alongside their parents, which allowed for more meaningful discourse around the best way for our students to continue to achieve the most productive outcomes in the remote classroom and beyond.

Many thanks to the 139 families who responded to our survey regarding the online platform for these conferences. There was strong support for retaining elements of the online conference option, including commentary around the flexibility it provided for working parents, the travel time saved, fewer distractions, the easy to use platform and the convenience for many. Having said that, there also was much support for consideration being given to a hybrid model, whereby there is the option to meet with teachers face-to-face, as well as online options. A number of parents expressed a preference for ‘live’ meetings, especially our new Year 7 families, and in cases when interim reports highlighted some areas of concern which might need deeper discussion. In a pleasing parallel, our staff also found the online conferences worked well for them, but some did express a desire also to meet with parents ‘live’ and missed the more personal connections which can be made in face-to-face interactions. This is one of the many good results which will come out of us all being forced to adopt uncharted practices and learn new ways to conduct long-standing ‘live’ events in online environments. The use of technology for more efficient delivery of some of our annual functions may yet prove to be one of many positive outcomes of this unusual year.

Above and beyond the varied experiences and learning modes taking place in our remote classrooms, it is heartening to observe the collaborative and interactive learning opportunities which are being made available to our students. Most recently, students in a number of year levels took part in a 2-day podcasting experience which promoted teamwork and the development of enterprise skills. The social interactions of students with their friends and peers are, perhaps, the most sorely missed element from the regular classroom. The staff do also miss seeing your children ‘in the flesh’, hearing their noise and laughter and reading those quizzical expressions on their faces. They are the reason we do what we do and I think I speak for all members of staff when I say that we equally yearn for the day when we are together again in East Ringwood, breathing that fresh air and enjoying all that life at Tintern has to offer us. 

Senior students, no doubt, are anticipating their return to school in term 4 with mixed feelings. They are reaching the all-important pre-examination revision stage of their studies for 2020 and we will continue to support them all in this important leg of their journey. The annual GAT exam will be taking place on site on Wednesday 7 October and then we look forward to welcoming all of our senior students back into the classroom in the second week of term. Hopefully, our Middle School students will be able to follow suit soon after.

Thank you for continuing to put your trust in us as we work together to ensure that your children are doing their best in these uncertain times and that they are continuing their learning journey under the expert guidance of our wonderful staff. Spring is in the air and our students (and staff!) are all looking forward to some well-deserved ‘time out’ (a.k.a. non-screen time) during the upcoming holidays. I wish you all a happy and safe holiday break.

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