Learning happens everywhere

Congratulations to all Middle School families. You will forever be in the Carey records for being the first ever community to spend an entire term learning online. The impact on students, teachers, parents and families has been immense and, as we reach the holidays, it is worth acknowledging this achievement. CONGRATULATIONS! It has required determination, resilience and patience from everyone and has truly been a team effort.

In fact, I wonder if some of you have been sharing my frustrations on hearing politicians and other, so-called, educational experts speak of ‘catch up’ and ‘repeat the year’. For the vast majority of Carey Middle School students, nothing could be further from the truth. Our students are not wasting the year and they are not going backwards and to even contemplate this is very insulting to the magnificent efforts of students, parents and teachers.

Certainly what and how we learn is, in some ways, different to previous years and possibly a taster for things to come. For example, we have seen that learning happens everywhere! Despite not meeting face to face, access to technology has connected students and teachers to their work. Students have been able to access a wealth of digital resources and have been able to revisit them when needed. It has been exciting to see that many students have been empowered by this ownership of their learning and have indeed thrived; becoming more independent, more time efficient, more targeted in articulating their needs and more discerning of when to engage.

Without a doubt, organisation and communication skills have increased over the term. Without having classmates sitting next to them to rely on, students have had to make more effort to read announcements and to organise themselves. They have had to make note of due dates, to look through Canvas to find resources and to speak up and ask for help. These learnings will no doubt serve them very well into the future.

From my position overseeing student learning, I can see that assessment tasks are being submitted and that feedback is being given. I also see that learning online has allowed us to differentiate for individuals. Flexible learning time, individual learning plans and access to teacher help has actually been easier to achieve. The delivery of online learning festivals allowed for greater student choice than the on-campus model, and after school Maths Help and Extension groups that students can access online from home have ceased the need for students to be leaving school in the cold dark evenings. It is true that I have also seen students who have struggled with their online learning and who desperately need to be back in their classroom. We are working with families and supporting these students as best we can right now and plan to keep doing so well into Term 4. There is no point in waiting until 2021!

There is no doubt that teachers, mentors and Heads of House have done a wonderful job working tirelessly to connect to their students. Teams chats, emails and Canvas announcements have helped with making connections and have proved to be very efficient ways to communicate. Student leaders have become more and more important to House sessions and have come up with many creative activities to try to create that sense of togetherness and fun.

Yet, despite all those efforts and all the new learnings, what we all crave are the human interactions of being face to face. It seems that nothing replaces the exciting buzz of the classroom, the hustle and bustle as the excursion bus departs, the push and shove as everyone wants to light the Bunsen burner and the rough and tumble of Sandell Oval. So, for me, we need to get back to school, not so we can avoid ‘catch up’ but for everything else that school offers. I truly hope to see the Middle School family very soon after the holidays.

Best wishes for a relaxing holiday.

Meredith Plaisted
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Learning