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Beyond the Classroom
Development and Community
We are excited! Some students are returning to school from next week and we are so looking forward to them being here and having a degree of ‘normal’. The online experience has been a wonderful learning opportunity for many teachers and students; hopefully, students have developed a greater sense of responsibility for their own learning and have understood and developed the necessary skills to create their own systems and scaffolds for effective learning. This experience can only benefit them on their return to school.
We are currently looking at how some of our experiences during this crisis might influence our future practice in the school. We have certainly heard when we have been checking in with families and students that many of our introverted students have enjoyed the online environment. Others have reported the gift of time, particularly time with their families and time to think. Sports training, face to face meetings, some ensemble practices, endless homework have given way to jigsaw puzzles, board games and card games with the family. There has been more time – time to reflect, wonder, breathe, and live the moment. This time is precious for teens particularly as they are in the process of becoming – forming their future adult identities, values and views of the world. More free time has been a bonus over the last few weeks.
Several people have asked me about the scheduled functions in Term 3. At this stage, while we do not know definitively about the rules for social distancing in July to September, we have resisted the urge to make early decisions about cancelling or postponing events. Once we know more about the requirements for future gatherings, we will update you with changes to the calendar.
Nevertheless, given the limited opportunities for our Primary students to prepare for the Arts Spectacular currently scheduled in August, we have decided to postpone the Arts Spectacular and provide students with the performance opportunity in Term 4 at the Mayo Arts Festival in October. Hopefully, the Mayo Arts Festival will be able to be held and the performances of our Primary students at this event will only enrich the enjoyment of the day.
Finding time as a family to have a meal together can be hard. In fact, prior to the isolation period we are now in, data showed that only about 30% of families would regularly find time to eat together. So now that many of our families are isolated at home, I wonder if more time is spent around the dinner table together.
With our students online learning, the dinner table is a great place for families to discuss what they have done in the day to share with their children, and what our students have learnt in their online classes. It is so beneficial for students of all ages (Pre Prep through to Year 12) to discuss what they learnt, in fact it is a way of consolidating their learning. Conversations with family about learning can help to provide depth, context and experience that can’t be read on a page of a textbook or on an internet page.
So, my challenge in my article this week is to start a conversation together at the dinner table that you might not normally have had, and watch the students learn from it. In fact, have a conversation that has nothing at all to do with COVID-19 – I think we all need a little break from that! Families can contribute so much to their children’s learning through a dinner table conversation without realising it.
The gift of time
When speaking with families about how they are coping with the many changes that have happened over the last few months, one person commented on how much they are enjoying their family time. On reflection, this comment made me think about the concept of the gift of time. How can we give the gift of time and how can we appreciate the gift of time we have been given? During this pandemic there are certainly different kinds of busyness; many families are working from home with the children learning online. Yet, at the same time, many families are appreciating the fact that they have so much time together. For some, it is like the ‘slow’ movement has become the norm. We use the challenge that if we can’t venture far from our homes, then what can we do together.
Families are doing all sorts of activities together that they would not normally do. The bike path I walk most days is near a big sporting oval. In the afternoons there are many families enjoying time together riding bikes, kicking balls and playing with their dogs. It is quite special seeing so families around. My family is also taking advantage of technology. We have gathered together for virtual birthday celebrations, art classes, trivial pursuit and other fun family things. I have heard many others talking about their virtual gatherings. How have we used this gift of time? How have we given the gift of time?
Not long after Jesus died some disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus. They had heard that Jesus was alive. As they are walking along a stranger joined them. They asked the stranger to join them for a meal. It was only when they slowed down and relaxed around the dinner table and the stranger broke the bread that they realised the stranger was Jesus. He had been with them the whole time! The story revealed that the God of love is always with us, even in the ordinary things like breaking bread and sharing stories. Jesus gives us the gift of time, and what a gift it is. While the situation we may find ourselves in may not be ideal, there is the gift of time. A gift I hope we may relish.
This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day. An opportunity of giving the gift of time to our mothers and those who have been like a mother to us. Mother’s Day allows us to honour mothers. Please check on the POD Spirituality and Faith tile as the Sacristans have prepared a Mother’s Day service which you could share together. You will also find the service with activities under the Chapel tile. Another great activity which you will find under the Prayer Space at Home tile is the ‘memory box’ which Reverend Gillian, Chaplain at St Aidan’s and I created to use during this time. It may be something we could create with our mothers and those who have been like a mother to us.
We have now almost completed Week 3 of online learning. The Boarders in-house continue to impress the Boarding Staff with their diligence and enthusiasm. The Boarders off campus are working well remotely and are managing the new regime well.
The girls in Boarding made the most of the extra day and cool weather last weekend to relax and get away from their screens. I am sure all students and adults are suffering some screen fatigue at the moment and, therefore, it is so important to embrace activities away from technology.
Puzzles have taken over the Boarding House from Junior House to Senior House and there appears to be some competition between the girls to get these puzzles done! Even the House Mothers are lending a hand and the competition is fierce. A spot of gardening was enjoyed in the Autumn sun on Sunday morning and our herb gardens on the east side of the Boarding House are looking great. There were also art competitions on the whiteboards around the Boarding House. Who knew we had so many talented artists in Boarding! The weekend was completed with a visit from chocolate Labrador, Jessie who was immediately taken on many walks around the grounds by the girls.
We were buoyed by the recent announcement by the Queensland Premier about Years 11 and 12 students being allowed to return to school. We look forward to our girls returning soon; we have missed their laughter, their smiles and their company.
Year 12 External Assessment Timetable and Preparation
As we move towards welcoming back the Years 11 and 12 girls back to school, I thought I would update you on our preparation program for External Assessments.
This term, all Year 12 students will be taken through an ‘Orientation’ process for these assessments. Through this process all students for all subjects, will be familiarised with their subject specific assessments. This will include them looking at the features of the assessment pieces, such as where the instructions are, how to complete the exam and how the assessments are marked. Alongside this, the Heads of Faculty are embedding skills and processes in day to day classes to practice with these assessments.
In Term 3, this process will be enhanced by adding activities in subject classes by investigating the assessments at a deeper level. This will have the girls looking at how the questions are constructed, the time required to answer questions, the format and spacing to answer questions and procedural processes. This process will happen in Weeks 1-5 of Term 3 and will be followed by a 4-week program of mock exams. More information about this organisation will be provided in Term 3.
Information about External Assessments, including samples of assessments and the timetable for Term 4 can be found here.
Teachers are working very hard to adjust to a life of teaching online. Schools have always been about more than the delivery of knowledge from adult to child. They are communities of belonging, relationships, and are driven by the social interactions and reactions on a daily basis. For me, this is something I have missed with the transition to online learning. However, as a learner I constantly reflect on my practices. On reflection of my transition to online learning I have realised that I need to rethink certain aspects of my teaching, notably my approach to engagement, pace and differentiation in my lessons. This got me reflecting on the changes I have seen in students in the current situation.
At St Margaret’s, we have a commitment in our teaching that we look to foster flexibility, independence, resilience and the ability to take initiative across multiple constituencies. We know that the avoidance of challenge will not allow young people to deal with the mounting complexity for life in the 21st century. It has been inspiring to witness the development of these skills by St Margaret’s students as they adapt to the profundity of change that has occurred in the past few months. Indeed, this has been demonstrated in their interactions with one another, and with their teachers as they work in different ways and express their learning on different platforms. The student’s ability to meet the challenges of online learning has been affirming to staff and we are confident the girls will be able to employ their developed sense of initiative and adaptability as they begin to return to campus.
Student wellbeing is the foundation to a student’s success. During this time of online learning the Pastoral Care Team would like to introduce the Student Wellbeing Hub. The Student Wellbeing Hub tile can be found on each year level page on the POD. The Hub consists of four main areas including Student Wellbeing Apps, Relaxation Exercises, Mental Health Tips and Support Numbers.
Included on this page is information relating to St Margaret’s Student Wellbeing Framework. The rationale which sits behind this plan rests of four guiding principles which shape the aims and practises relating pastoral care at St Margaret’s:
At St Margaret’s, we value the pursuit of continued growth and wellbeing. Wellbeing is a full integration of intellectual, physical, social, emotional, spiritual and vocational wellbeing. Each area contributes to a sense of wellbeing and quality of life and each affect and overlaps the other.
As you know, all members of our community have been and still are negotiating a whole new world. As a school we have gone from asking you to monitor the number of hours your child spends online to students spending most of the day online as they learn. However, there are two common factors that remain the same pre and post online learning: social media etiquette and online safety.
Regarding social media etiquette, there is a great video on the POD (Primary - Maggies Connect) about the correct and incorrect behaviour online. One important statement made in this video is if you wouldn’t do it in class, you don’t do it online. This is very relevant in the use of mobile phones. We have been made aware that some students in the older year levels are texting and taking photos while online. The rules for mobile phone use at school apply at home; students should not be using their mobile phones between 8:20am and 3:20pm. I request that parents ensure their child is following this rule.
I would also encourage parents to continue to monitor their child’s access and use of Apps rated above their age. There is an Australian Classification of Apps. These apps have been given an age rating based on a child’s social, cognitive and emotional ability. Please access the eSafety Commissioner’s website for details.
One App that has gained in popularity during this time is TikTok. Its use is recommended for greater than 13 years of age with parental consent. Last year, the girls were educated by Kirra Pendergast about online behaviour and TikTok through her program, Safe on Social. On the Primary POD page, her article is available for your information. I would implore parents to read this article, but essentially Kirra identifies two big issues with TikTok: privacy and data security and the welfare of its users. It is a big “no, no” from her and we support this stance.
Old Girl News
Congratulations to Old Girl, Lucy Tuffley (’16) who was accepted into a government-run mentoring program this year called the QUBE Effect. As part of the program Lucy has made a music video which is part of a competition that is promoting up and coming artists in Queensland. To view Lucy’s video (and to vote for it) please click here.
St Margaret’s Spotlight
Over the next several weeks, the St Margaret’s Music Department will be providing an opportunity for girls to share their musical abilities with the St Margaret’s community. Each week, we will share several videos of girls performing on their respective instruments. If your daughter is interested in sharing a video of her performing a piece, she is encouraged to speak with her private music teacher who can then assist in getting the video sent through to our Music Captains who will be facilitating the process. This opportunity is open to students of all ages and abilities and we look forward to seeing and hearing some wonderful performances!
Music Performance – Seasons of Love
Thank you to all our St Margaret’s conductors who have been working very hard to provide continuity in learning to our girls in various music ensembles. I know that a number of innovative performance projects are currently being undertaken and we look forward to seeing and hearing them in the future. Recently we presented a performance of Seasons of Love which we believe contains a beautiful message for our current times. To view the performance, please click here.
Staying home has not resulted in St Margaret’s girls throwing exercise out the window, far from it! Our girls and families have been busy getting fit and having fun in their own backyards, with guidance from the Sports Department. Girls have been actively participating in Run Club, Rowing Ergos, strength and conditioning circuits and fitness challenges and can now get involved in the Virtual Interhouse Cross Country for 2020.
The Virtual Interhouse Cross Country requires students to lace up their joggers and pound the pavement with a run, walk or jog until Sunday 10 May. This event has been altered to suit the virtual medium and will involve the following categories for 2020:
Individual Age Group Results – A leader board for each age group will be derived from one 3km run recorded by all participating students.
*Individuals can record as many runs as they like; however, only their fastest 3km run will count.
Overall House Champion – Overall leader board derived from the finalised age group results.
Spirit Champion – Every participant gains one point for their House (staff also included). The House with the most participation is crowned Spirit Champion.
Overall Distance House Champion – Derived from the kilometres run by each House and their participating members (staff included).
*Students can record as many runs as they like throughout the specified time-frame at whatever distance they chose (e.g. 6km) to contribute towards their overall House kilometre total.
To get involved, students are asked to download the Strava Training: Run and Ride Application onto their smart phone and join their House group within the ‘Clubs’ section. A ‘How to Guide’ is available on the Secondary Sport POD page and by clicking here (PDF 627.2KB).
Last Friday, the National Cabinet released a set of National Principles for the Resumption of Sport and Recreation Activities, as well as a Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment. The return to sport from elite to community-based sport and recreation will be determined by the Queensland State Government and the Chief Health Officer who will take time to consider how these principles can be applied. Whilst the timeframe is unknown it is a positive step towards the staged return to school sport over the coming months.
Each year, 40 international students are appointed as Brisbane International Student Ambassadors and work to showcase Brisbane as an international study destination. The ambassadors receive training and the opportunity to participate in various experiences in Brisbane. The program was extended a few years ago to include high school students.
This year, St Margaret’s nominated Yuhui (Queena) Jiang in Year 11 to be our Study Brisbane International Student Ambassador and last Thursday we attended an online appointment ceremony. The ceremony included a speech from the Mayor of Brisbane and one of last year’s student ambassadors. It was amazing to see all the selected students and the diverse range of countries they have travelled from to study in Brisbane.
I asked Queena to share her thoughts on her appointment and having the opportunity to study at St Margaret’s:
“I cannot describe how excited and surprised I was when I knew that I was nominated by the school as the Student Ambassador. This is both a good opportunity and a challenge for me. I believe that being a Student Ambassador will be a completely unique experience. I came to Brisbane when I was in Year 9 and I have been studying here for one and a half years. Brisbane is a nice city with beautiful scenery and modern skyscrapers; the pleasant climate is one of my favourite parts of this coastal city. This is my first time studying aboard and in a Boarding school. When I stepped into the school, I did feel lonely and homesick; however, St Margaret’s is a big, warm family. All the teachers and girls are friendly and easy going. They make me feel like I am at home.”
We are very lucky to be part of a multicultural community, both in Brisbane and within our St Margaret’s community. We really are a local school with a global outlook and for me it’s one of the things that makes it such a pleasure to work at St Margaret’s (virtually or in person!).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Boarding House staff for their care of our international students during this challenging time. Please spare a thought for these girls who are a long way apart from their families and are doing such a wonderful job to support each other and keeping positive.
Our chefs are still offering at-cost meals to our families. Many of you will still be working and caring for children, and we thought this service could provide some small respite (and you know we have the reputation for the best Boarding House food in Brisbane!).
We are still offering takeaway meals with collection daily from M’s Café between 2:00pm-4:00pm.
Orders can be placed via the POD.
What’s new this week…
Check it out!
A Virtual Expo including over 70 institutions from across Australia on 7 and 8 May, from 12pm-8pm. Log in to see webcasts, download course guides, take virtual tours and engage with faculty staff and current students. Check out the website for more information and to register, visit: https://www.torrens.edu.au/about/virtual-careers-expo.
In recognition of the extraordinary challenges Year 12 students are facing due to COVID-19 disruptions, QUT will now accept VET qualifications (Certificate IV and above) for entry in 2021 for any student who completes Year 12.
In addition to applying to QTAC, students must apply online to QUT by 5pm on Monday 28 September 2020 for creative industries courses with additional entry requirements. Additional entry requirements include auditions, portfolio submissions, personal statements and interviews. Please refer to individual course information on the QUT website. In-person auditions and interviews will move to an online format.
Visit the Careers page on the POD for the latest information on:
Contact Our Admissions Team
An independent day and boarding school for girls from Pre-Prep to Year 12; Boarding from Year 5; Boys Pre-Prep and Prep
A School of the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent St Margaret's School Council Ltd ABN: 69069684019 CRICOS Code: 00511K