Semester One has indeed been like no other previously experienced for schools. Upon entering the year, we were all challenged by the bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales, with some families in our community impacted by this traumatic event. By the end of Term One, Victorians entered into isolation and our Home Learning Program was activated to ensure the continuity of learning and wellbeing for our students.
Our Mission and Values aims to provide a Catholic Education for boys where excellence is valued and all are challenged to achieve their best. Whilst some of the familiar aspects of a Whitefriars education were unable to proceed in the Home Learning Program or since our return, our boys have been extremely well supported in their learning through the use of technology; the learning for many boys has continued as expected.
With one week of Semester 1 remaining I look back at the semester and provide some learning for Term 3 and beyond:
- Gratitude – an appreciation for things we take for granted has taken place during the semester. Gratitude for family, community, the opportunities to learn new skills, and for our students the chance to discuss and question the curriculum with teachers have all been gratefully appreciated. Colleagues during Home Learning Program transformed their practice within one week and continue to improve their teaching practice from home. Many students and parents have expressed their gratitude to the extraordinary work our teachers have done to support student learning and wellbeing. Likewise, the teaching staff are grateful for the parent partnership, a crucial aspect in the success of the Home Learning Program.
- Relationships – isolation has highlighted the importance of relationships in our lives. Family connections have been strengthened, patience has been fostered, friendships re-established as people reconnect with one another returning from isolation. Our staff and boys have relished the opportunity to have discussions with one another and spend time sharing their stories. This time together has developed the sense of belonging within our community and fostered positive, supportive relationships.
- Communication – working from home has forced us to consider new ways to communicate with students, teachers and parents. Using Zoom, One Note and Whitefriars Learn/Engage has ensure communication has provided clarity during times of uncertainty and provided reliability in delivering an online curriculum. Communication has ensured we continue to nurture and celebrate the diverse gifts and unique contributions of each individual as well as valuing collaboration.
- Skills – our students and staff have transformed themselves in how they use technology to communicate and collaborate. The development of these skills has challenged us all; it has reminded us that learning is not meant to be easy and that there are times of struggle required in order to embed skills, knowledge and understanding. Understanding the learning process, reflecting on how to effectively study, using alternate forms of technology, and fostering independent habits are skills for lifelong learning.
- Problem solving – students working from home have gained confidence in the way they learn as they have had to increase the manner in which they work through and problem solve challenges. Students have had to solve problems themselves instead of immediately going to the teacher for help. Critical thinking has meant students have constructed meaning and become more responsible for their learning. Students have been creative in the way they have learnt from home to achieve learning outcomes.
- Reflection – a key part of the learning process is to be reflective. In discussing the Home Learning Program with students many have taken the time to think about strategies they implemented during this time that can support their learning in the classroom for the remainder of the year. A Whitefriars learner is asked to use resources and develop their talents to achieve personal excellence. It is important for every student to ask, “Have I achieved this in my studies this semester?” “Have I reached out to my peers, subject teachers, House Leaders and any of the resources that Whitefriars offers in order for me to achieve my best?” ”What can I do to improve my learning?” With Semester One Academic Reports being released next week, reflecting critically by asking these questions and setting new goals for Semester Two is an essential process for every student. around reports and re-setting of goals for Semester 2 over the holiday period.
With this being the last article for the semester, I encourage you to take the time to rest and reflect during the upcoming holidays. Thank you to our students, parents and College staff for their wonderful work and open approach during Semester One, particularly during the Home Learning Program.