Posted on May 19, 2020 / Middle School
Remote learning has certainly brought some trials with it; however, it has also required ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness of both students and staff.
On Monday 11 May we had our next GEM day (Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness). Being online added an extra element of challenge but also provided some new opportunities as well. In this time of isolation our ability to connect with each other is critical to helping to maintain positive mental health. The activities throughout the day were a mixture of restful mindfulness, consideration for others and taking time to check in on how we and others are going. We provided much needed space for our girls to talk with each other and their mentor staff in a more relaxed setting than formal classes. Each year level shared their highs and lows of this time of isolation, which was beautifully showcased by our Year 9 girls who created a tourism video for their backyard holiday. These humorous videos highlighted the importance of helping our students to find joy in this challenging time.
Our Year 7 girls focused on the ‘Something for me, something for you’ approach. They completed a mindfulness task to improve their mental health, and then an activity that was a positive for someone else such as helping around the home, phoning someone who could be lonely or writing a letter of appreciation. Click here to read two of our Year 7 student reflections of the day.
In Year 8 students had a day revolving around the Compass value of Compassion. It included viewing some good news stories that have come out of the COVID-19 crisis, and capturing in a photo what compassion looks like in our current world. This was then cemented into an activity with baking for our family or neighbours and writing a letter of thanks and gratitude to someone in our lives or the community.
In Year 9 GEM we had a yoga session, an interactive presentation from Elephant Ed and then students designed and baked amazing cupcakes which were judged in the categories of artistic, creative, delicious and inventive. They were then encouraged to distribute these cupcakes to their family and neighbours (whilst observing social distancing rules) to share some positivity with our community.
In order to lift our spirits, we decided to declare Wednesday 15 May 15 as ‘Heroes Day’ and students were asked to dress up as their favourite superhero. Students could either choose a traditional hero such as Wonder Woman, or a more ‘real-life’ hero such as an essential front line worker. Our MS leaders gave an inspiring speech about our real-life heroes that are serving us so faithfully at the moment, in particular honouring the sacrifice made by so many at the front line in terms of their own safety. It was so lovely to see so many of our girls and staff dressing up for the day. Our MS leaders also ran a live online assembly with the entire Girls’ Middle School which is no small feat. They are doing a wonderful job of encouraging and leading our girls to make the most of every opportunity during this time.
This coming week our Year 8 girls are having an online ‘incursion’ with Louise Merrington who wrote the gothic novel ‘Greythorne’ which is the Year 8 text for English. The girls will have a chance to hear Louise’s literary journey as well as ask questions about how to have a career as an author. In our Year 9 Health classes students will be having an online session called ‘Meet Your Neighbour’ with the company ‘Intersection’ as part of their study of homelessness in Australia. In the online session students will have the opportunity to hear first hand the struggles that a person who has been homeless faces and what we as a community can do to help.
We are all looking forward to our students returning to school and to a sense of normalcy for our young people. We have been helping our students to prepare both physically and mentally for this change, and expect there to be a time of transition when we return. School will feel different whilst we continue to implement steps to help maintain social distancing and increase hygiene rules in order to keep us as safe as possible; however, the important thing to remember is that the key essence of school will remain the same. A place of learning and connection where kids have the space and opportunity to develop and grow.