From the Principal
It is such a wonderful feeling to have our full complement of students back. Even though we are aware that there is more to be done in overcoming the impact of the pandemic, and there will be further operational impact upon schools, the presence of students lets us get back to our core business.
The transition to and from online learning has provided a lot of really useful lessons for us all. I have been fascinated by it. My brother-in-law teaches at an all-girls Catholic school in Brisbane, and one comment he made to me early in the term has kept ringing in my head. Talking about the significant progress that some of his quieter students were making in the online learning world, he said, 'Some of these kids have got more attention in the last two weeks than they had in the previous ten'. Before he took the plunge and married my lovely sister, my brother-in-law was a player alongside me in the first team squad at Reading RFC in the UK. He lives how he played; assured, no-nonsense, direct and never one to mince words. This wasn't an exaggeration. I've actually never known him to exaggerate.
It is a pattern that our data showed as well. There was varied engagement with digital learning - but our information has highlighted children for whom the quiet digital space provided a perfect interactive platform for great progress. Certainly, there was a flip side of this! There were some children who, without the strong interaction of the classroom and the guidance of routine found learning very hard.
What causes such a discrepancy?
There is a wonderful book by former lawyer Susan Cain call 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking'. In this, Cain talks about the societal pressures that create incentives for extroverted behaviours. Conversely, introverted people have at times found themselves alienated in a type of unusual blame culture, where genuine introversion is seen as asocial or antisocial behaviour, positive contributions are overlooked or underplayed and outgoing personality types are praised more as a result of their presence rather than the substance of what they contribute. You can see a neat summary of her ideas here. (Interesting fact: my wife curated this video!)
Classrooms are social melting pots. All personality types are present, and one really central duty of the teacher is ensuring that every voice is authentically heard. This can at times be a challenge, but online learning flattened the playing field. I would never propose that all schools should maintain a purely digital learning platform. The classroom is the key place where learning takes place, and interactivity is central to that being embedded. What this time has shown me as a Principal though is that when we have the tools to really listen to our students we can be pleasantly surprised by what we hear.
We will be maintaining many elements of the online learning platforms as we move forward beyond Covid. These will complement the outstanding teaching that is happening in our classrooms and provide a strong platform of support for all of our students.
Thank you so much for the way that you have supported us and continue to support.