Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta
So it’s school holidays again but it has a different vibe about it. That’s not surprising, given that the past six months have flipped so much of what we know about school and learning. The phrase ‘this is the new normal’ gets used a lot but everything seems to change so quickly right now that using the word ‘normal’ for anything seems like a bit of a stretch.
It was interesting speaking to teachers and principals during the last week of the term. Understandably, they were weary and looking forward to some downtime but each of them also spoke passionately about what they were planning to do to prepare for the term ahead.
In these ‘holidays’, teachers will be reviewing their students’ progress, creating new programs and personal learning plans, as well as creating new resources and jazzing up old ones. They’ll be running HSC workshops, planning student wellbeing projects and upskilling themselves on technology. They’ll be reading and researching, preparing and programming, Zooming and ‘webinaring’ and always thinking about what they can do to help their students.
For some students, the lack of connection with their teachers and their friends during school closures was tough to manage. This has been the case particularly for students with special needs. The work of teachers in reaching out to their students during this time has been amazing. I know that during the holiday break, their thoughts will still be with them. Teachers never stop thinking about how they can help…
The move to online learning during the earlier phase of COVID-19 has also meant that parents were able to get a much better understanding and of how their children were progressing with their learning. I know how hard it was for parents to supervise their child’s learning when they were learning at home (in some cases, that’s meant more than one child!) while staying on top of so many other things. Despite the challenges, I have also been hearing that parent/teachers ‘interviews’, whether they were over the phone or online, have been some of the best ever. Having a stronger connection with parents is something teachers don’t want to lose!
We have always had great teachers. It’s not the new normal. COVID-19 has meant that now more people know just how great they really are. Bring on Term 3!
Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta