From the Principal
Staff reflections: lessons learned during COVID-19
Whilst we are still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the experience of remote online learning has been profound. I have shared a selection of staff reflections below, which will provide an insight into the experience from an educator’s perspective:
“I have learnt how it feels being in a big messy sea storm but sitting in a very strong ship. The Emanuel School ship has sailed with calmness and strong leadership in what has felt like treacherous seas and this has had a very stabilising feeling at a very messy time! On a personal note, I have discovered, as a keen sea swimmer, a whole new swimming area near me. Just after 6.00 am, I have seen more schools of fish than a David Attenborough documentary, and that has made my heart sing with joy!” Claire Pech, Careers Adviser
“I think if I have learned anything – actually not learnt but reinforced to me at this unprecedented time – is how proud I am to be part of the Emanuel Family. The way everyone has come together to support each other and put the wellbeing of our students and families first and foremost is incredible. You never realise what you are capable of and how strong you can be until you are thrust into a situation like we have been. It is truly amazing what we have achieved.” Nicole Esra, Primary School Teacher
“I think that, as humans, it is interesting that it takes something as small and seemingly insignificant as a virus to teach us what it truly means to be tolerant of all people, regardless of race, age, skin colour, beliefs, gender or eating habits: the virus treats us all as equals and, may perhaps, encourage us all to think of ourselves as simply one race, perhaps for the first time ever. Who knows if, on the other side of the Corona experience, we end up more peaceful, more kind, more gracious and, as a species, significantly humbler than before.” Joseph Peacock, High School Teacher
National survey on home-based learning
In May, MMG in collaboration with the Australian Heads of Independent Schools Association (AHISA), conducted an online survey of parents, teachers and students in relation to home-based learning during the school shutdown period across Australia. Some of the key insights and learnings that have emerged from the national survey include:
- The identification of two distinct student groups and the need to tailor engagement and strategies accordingly. Some students struggled to remain on task and work without direct supervision whilst others thrived with working at their own pace;
- Many students developed independence, time management and organisational skills over this remote learning period, whilst others struggled to work online each day;
- Teachers quickly learned many new skills that could be integrated into their classroom teaching environment. The importance of using different teaching techniques and activities to keep the range of students (ability levels and motivation) engaged, was recognised;
- The significant reduction of duties, meetings and administrative tasks enabled teachers to focus on their core responsibility of the academic progress and wellbeing of their students; and
- Challenges with fatigue and boredom associated extended screen time, lack of face-to-face contact, stress and anxiety related to the changed circumstances required creative online support and encouragement.
With over 13 000 respondents, the key findings that have emerged are broadly consistent with our experience. As we continue to reflect on our E-manuel remote learning platform, there are many ‘positives’ that we hope to embed into our classroom practices, academic and wellbeing programs. These outcomes will be the ‘silver linings’ of what has otherwise been a challenging and steep learning curve. Our hope is that we will emerge back into our ‘normal’ way of life a little wiser, more appreciative of the small things and mindful of the value of our wonderful Emanuel School community.
Take a virtual tour
It’s going to be a while until you’ll be able to visit us on campus so we’ve prepared a short tour for you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself ‘lost’ – just enjoy the ride.
Thank you to the JCA
Emanuel School is one of 23 members of the JCA family of organisations. We are grateful to the JCA for the generous funding assistance they provide to the School and essential role that the organisation plays in so many aspects of the Jewish communal life. The JCA leadership, in partnership with Jewish Care, acted quickly and decisively at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. The launch of the Jewish Emergency Relief Fund meant that members of the community who found themselves in financial crisis, as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic, were able to access financial assistance quickly and directly. I thank the JCA for their strong leadership and foresight during this difficult and confronting time.