One of the great joys of working at Carey is the social capital the school has developed over the past 90 years. Students, staff and families thrive in an environment that culturally promotes the concept of connection – students are encouraged through formal and informal experiences to connect with each other, give back to society and to strive to make a difference, especially as an offset to our sometimes introspective and self-centered culture. As we enter a new way of relating, working, learning and living, this social capital will be critical to our wellbeing. It has been wonderful to see the way Carey has taken the lead on many aspects of this journey, whether that be our work in developing multiple ways of delivering learning online or supporting each other in difficult times.
Over the last few weeks as students have moved into a home-based, online mode of learning it is clear that the loss of connection and structure has been difficult for some students. I have spoken to many students and parents over the past three weeks and have really valued the feedback around what works and what has been a challenge. These conversations and reflections will certainly inform and shape how we continue in this new mode of learning. Although the experience of each family is unique and in many cases it even depends on the day how effective the learning is it is going to be, it will be the mindset that students develop that will help them through this new learning mode. Over the break we will continue to refine and build our program to endeavor to support all the different types of learners and simplify the process so that students can feel success, remain calm and find ways to connect with teachers and each other.
As we move into the term break, some reflection on how things have gone over the past three weeks many help families set themselves up for next term. I also encourage families to take the time to have some discussion around what is going to strengthen each family’s ability to see things through over the next couple of months. You might look at this as a new kind of report card for Term 1. Some questions you might like to explore:
1. What are the positives around this new way of learning and how can we focus on these as much as the frustrations?
2. What are your motivators for achieving outcomes for learning, social and family, and how do we these be measured?
3. How do you structure your day and then measure achievement for a day – is it the same for everyone in the house?
4. How well are you connecting to others using all the platforms available to you?
5. How many times did you say thank you to someone or reach out to someone else over the various platforms available?
6. Did you do anything to support the family, your teachers or others, for example, rostering jobs or writing gratitude letters?
7. What are the hardest things about this new type of learning and are there any solutions?
8. What other learning is taking place other than simply what is sent to you by your teachers, for example, music, art, physical activity, reading, creating?
9. Are there ways you can reach out to others and be kind in an online home-based setting?
10. How are you are you going to measure success?
The great thing is that young people already have many of the tools to make this work, we just need to just finds ways to support this to occur.
Over the break I hope families have an opportunity to have a rest and simplify the day. Each family’s circumstances are different, however, being a part of a wider Carey community will hopefully provide some stability as we face the next weeks and months ahead. Maybe spend some time doing the things you have been putting off for years, like learning something new, reading the book you haven’t had time to, playing some board games, having dinner at the dinner table and contacting friends and family on social media, while of course continuing the virtual connections that you already. The students tell me that they need calm and loving adults around them to reassure them that they are going to be okay, even when we may not feel it ourselves.
Please stay safe, and thank you to those Carey families who are at the frontline of supporting the community. We very much appreciate all that you are doing.
Head of Middle School