Sunday, 17 May 2020

COVID-19 Part 1 (22 March - 17 May 2020) Fallen bicycles, Shortness of Breath & Remote Learning

It's about 8 weeks to the day on the 22 March when:
  • the Victorian premier announced that schools will finish Term 1 earlier than expected due to coronavirus State of Emergency restrictions
  • I lifted a fallen bicycle in the bike shed at school and sprained my chest. This action resulted in shortness of breath. With the growing anxiety around coronavirus, caring colleagues advised me to take a trip to the doctor. Fortunately the shortness of breath was only an outcome of the sprain and a reaction to some very strong hand sanitizer.
Corona virus scare in the bike shed
8 weeks later:
  • Victorians can emerge from their isolation cocoon to visit friends and family – with a maximum gathering of up to ten outdoors and up to five visitors in homes.
  • Our school families have completed 5 weeks of remote "home" learning from our school Learning Community Site. Here is an extract from Community Update #1
Remote Schooling / Home Learning Frequently Asked Questions 
Term 2 Community Update #1 ; Preparing for Home Learning - 5 Key Messages
As mentioned in previous updates, the staff have been working hard to support parents and families to make the transition to Home Learning for Term 2. All updates will be published here as newsletters this term. This means you can go back and access them easily. 
Go to this link and read Brooke's story - Home Learning ; One Parent Shares their Story
Frequently Asked Questions and Supervised Onsite Expectations
I have prepared a list of 15 Frequently Asked Questions FAQ in response to parent questions.
You can open the Shamrock update newsletters on any device
  • Our staff have become digitally flexible and learnt to teach in ways they would never have imagined "pre COVID -19". They supported each other to create instructional videos like this one from our Foundation team.
Prep Making Words Instructional Video
The #stpatsmbna Prep teachers prepared this video for the children during remote learning. Look out for special guest appearances from Tia and our principal Jenny Hawkins.
  • Myself and 5 other staff have been working full time for 5 weeks onsite at school with the support of part time staff, supervising the 25-30 children of essential workers at school whilst 80% of families and our staff have taught and learnt in their homes.
  • Zoom, the online video conference platform became the main form of communication for staff and student meetings, including staff wellbeing groups
  • staff regularly telephoned parents and responded to emails. The home learning parent partnership was strengthened. Parents and carers developed a deeper understanding of the impact of dedicated teaching staff . This became evident through parent responses to the staff video "We're all in this together".
Staff Video (7 May)"We're all in this together" at St Pat's Murrrumbeena
St Pat's school staff and local community members (guest appearances include Citizen & 3 Little Bakers celebrities! ) come together to let school families know - "We miss you and can't wait until we are all back together soon @ #stpatsmbna "

  • The SRC (Student Representative Council) videos provided an opportunity for our students to support the school community during the pandemic lockdown. The SRC students elected from Year 1 through to Year 6 provide a student voice and take on the role for a semester. I met with the students on a weekly bases via Zoom during their Home Learning lunch break and we began to create a series of videos. Here are some of the videos.

SRC Survival Tips #1 
The SRC focus in their first video is on our school core value - We are positive. The students offer our community survival tips for Home Learning and positive ways to survive these challenging times.
                                          Tips for the SRC as we prepare our second video
SRC Survival Tips #2 Stay fit and healthy
The SRC share some tips for staying fit and healthy with your family during Home Learning.

SRC Survival Tips #3 Indoor Activities 
SRC share some tips for fun games to play with your family. Stay safe and keep well.
  • We developed our first Virtual Assembly #1 to share weekly awards and connect with the children and families. Here is the first one. I received a lovely message from a grandparent after an award recipient shared the video with them. Something to think about for the future, especially as a way to include family members who aren't able to attend assemblies

Virtual Assembly #1
We are all proud of the way our children, staff, parents and carers have flourished during #stpatsmbna Home Learning. Find out who received awards for demonstrating the core value of being positive. Listen to the SRC students share the ways that they have improved while learning at home.

Reflection on COVID -19 imposed change
For the first time, everyone across the world had to adjust their lives and change their way of living to stay safe from  COVID -19. We were all in a similar position and nobody had experienced these particular challenges before.
Our default is to avoid change. We feel safe when we are in control of the known; familiar routines and environment.
Images of patients on respirators overseas and increasing deaths with no vaccine are confronting.
When we lose control, it can lead to anxiety and fear, especially when the health and well being of loved ones is compromised.
COVID -19 is an example of a necessary change imposed on each and every one of us.
Imposed change is extremely challenging. We have very little warning, not much time to prepare for what seems like the relinquishing of control.

Change2flourish is and always will be a constant reminder that we have to believe there is a silver lining associated with all change.

When the going gets tough, our core values and beliefs, the essence of a familiar way of being can help us get through.

As a school leader and teacher, others are looking to us to help them navigate the choppy seas. I had to dig deep during this period to focus on two of our school core values in particular - we are positive and we support each other.
Every minute of every day in those 8 weeks, revealed new challenges. My motto was to take one day at a time. Meeting via Zoom with the SRC students and creating positive video messages to share with the community, the support of a tremendous team of staff and the love and care of family and friends contributed to not only surviving these 8 weeks but learning to change2flourish during this "unprecedented time".

  • To the staff of St Patrick's who rose to the challenge and showed that teaching is truly a vocation and that no mountains are too high
  • To the parents and carers of our children who despite hardship and challenges within their only work and family lives, supported their children with the home learning activities on the Learning Community Site
  • To Bill Martin and John Edwards from the Schools That Deliver Team for emailing a thought provoking article on dealing with thunderbolts with a reminder to hold tight to our vision and our core values.