Hello all – I hope you are well and staying safe.
I thought it might be useful to give a window into how we as a College are getting on, what has worked, what has not, and methods we are putting in play to try make the next 4 and a half weeks manageable for all of us.
I remarked to a colleague this morning that this week has been the first time in ages that I have not felt overwhelming positivity coming into work. I love working in schools generally and I REALLY love working at Mary MacKillop – but the sense of unknown combined with the tension and anxiety that this has brought for all of us has made the everyday so much more challenging. I know that most educators feel the same. It is a real credit to the resilience of your children that they are working as well as they are, divorced from their normal routine and their physical community.
So, that is one big positive. What we knew would be hard is indeed hard, but the students are, in varying degrees, adapting to it.
In the Senior College, we have had a pretty good strike rate with the Canvas platform and Teams/Zoom calls. Teachers are reporting back good levels of engagement, some really positive independent learning and some genuinely hard work. Well done to those students! We may not be physically at the College but rewarding you for that positive attitude and its impact is really important to me.
One of the greatest challenges we have faced is the burden that the state-wide online learning process has placed upon the Microsoft suite of online tools. I have asked staff who were relying on OneNote to provide real time feedback to students to consider switching to a tool like Canvas. This will depend on any improvements that can be made centrally to OneNote, so please follow guidance from your child’s teacher.
I received word this morning that our internet speed at the College has been increased by 33% to manage the current demands, so hopefully some of the challenges that have been caused by bandwidth will diminish.
I have heard via one parent who communicated directly with the College (huge thanks to that parent) that there are some concerns about quantity of work in the lower Junior school. Regarding that – I have asked teachers to differentiate at the point of planning and delivery. So, you may see the amount of ‘compulsory’ work decrease, but there will be a considerable amount that your child can attempt should they finish that. My request remains the same as last term – please get done what you can reasonably complete.
Remember that a P-2 student ‘works’ for about 2 hours a day – with the remainder made up of social activities, play, movement and down time. Do not feel too much pressure to work beyond that!
You will have seen correspondence regarding rewards, assemblies, our prayer life and our wellbeing programs. I see these as central to keeping a strong sense of community as we navigate the next 4 weeks. Please do not feel these are more hoops for you to jump through! My desire is that you see these as ways that your child can engage with the wider community and can continue some of the routines and processes that support education. Again, please engage with what you reasonably can given the pressures of any other contexts.
Lastly – thank you all very very much for helping us continue our work here. Normal life will resume soon I am sure but until then I want you to know how much the staff at Mary MacKillop appreciate your support.
Mr Chris Gabbett