(Thursday 9th April 2020)
Kia ora koutou katoa,
Well….. above all else we have made it past halfway as it currently stands.
I hope that you are doing ok, it seems that many sections and houses have had unprecedented attention as have a number of pets. The weather has certainly eased the burden. I hope your sons have been get some recreation as well as rest!
There has been a very deliberate drop in communication in the hope that we all have a bit of a break before we face a 12 week term with plenty of uncertainty, challenge and discomfort. Staff have and are spending time gearing up for distance learning and considering student achievement bearing that all subjects are different. They are putting a lot of thought into the best approaches for their subjects/ courses.
Term time is not like usual hence this message sometime before we kick off!
Please find below some key points for the first part of this term, especially for the distance learning part.
Our Mega bubble:
Whilst we have been walking dogs, walking selves, walking offspring, grooming sections our mega bubble of international students and staff totalling 80 have been living in a parallel universe. Being exercised, meditated, fed, entertained and above all else massively cared for in a time of great adversity and a time when home would seem as far away as it could possibly be. I would like to thank the staff and their families who have contributed so much to make this work and acknowledge the supreme leadership of Samme Hippolite, Simon Mardon and Alex Hassan. I can’t imagine how grateful those parents would be.
Thinking in compartments:
Given the great question of how long we are in this… we strongly recommend viewing distance learning in one week compartments. Initially 15 April to 22 April and then the next week after that as required. That approach will keep workload and expectations/ workload manageable. It may also limit procrastination.
Staff will be drip feeding your work out. We are keen to avoid heaving many weeks of work out on Wednesday, there is a danger of overload and potential stress, again thinking about a week at a time.
Student work expectations:
The leadership team and local principals have given plenty of thought to the varying demands of subjects and year levels. The rule of thumb that has been reached is 2 hours expected work to be done by each junior class per week and 3 hours for a senior class.
Student meetings, forums etc:
Staff will aim to arrange this type of contact with their classes as per their usual timetable. This will save possible conflicts for students and teachers when trying to engage.
Staff may facilitate the completion of assessment which has been started. Staff will need to be mindful of authenticity issues and the like, alternatively they may choose to extend deadlines and give the usual guidance to assist in completing these shortly after we return.
They may start assessments which are appropriate to distance learning with a view to completing and following up after we return. If we go too many weeks beyond April 22 then we will need to consider our school wide approach to NCEA. I feel certain this will be directed by NZQA and the MoE should this happen.
We will be taking a note of students who are engaging on a weekly basis and also be putting some real effort into rustling up the no shows. We intend to do an actual attendance return for each week we are at a distance. We are keen to have an idea of what level of engagement is occurring. It will at some point be very useful to have a reasonably accurate picture of engagement in distance learning for future planning.
Please bear in mind that in all likelihood we are going to have a 12 week term with some proportion at a distance so do think ahead to managing your son’s well-being. I believe that any on-site restart will be preceded by one of two teacher only days to clean and get ready for normal. It would seem very likely that we will have some sort of mid-term break attached to Queen’s Birthday weekend.
I would like to acknowledge the support staff who continue to support the operation of the school despite being at home and faced with limitations to their capabilities to keep the core functions of the school going.
Deans and guidance are available and have been/ are keeping in touch with their year levels. We are creating a pastoral section on our Covid 19 section of the website for more detailed support information.
Uncertainty/ forced change:
I totally acknowledge this is hugely outside our normal and will and has challenged all of us in different ways. If the situation is becoming overwhelming for whatever reason please access help. Contact your sons deans, our guidance team, or check out the sources of help on our website.
Enjoy Easter at home!