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Beyond the Classroom
Development and Community
Albert Einstein’s words are very true as the education industry continues to function during this period of disruption to societal routines and expectations.
‘Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.’
In response to the rapid shift to online education that has occurred across the globe, Copenhagen based education professionals, Poormina Luthra and Sandy Mackenzie have argued in a World Economic Forum article that there are four main ways that the pandemic could change how we educate future generations. Firstly, COVID-19 illustrates how connected we all are, demonstrating the importance of working across international boundaries in a collaborative way. Online education has also redefined the role of the teacher to that of a facilitator, helping students to access knowledge and skills through their computer or smart device.
In addition, the pandemic has demonstrated that the life skills needed to navigate this crisis are the attributes that future employers will seek, including creativity, communication, collaboration, empathy and emotional intelligence. Finally, write Luthra and Mackenzie, the quick uptake of remote learning in response to COVID-19 has resulted in the unlocking of technology to deliver education. “Educators across the world,” they write, “are experiencing new possibilities to do things differently and with greater flexibility.”
Students have risen to the challenge, showing that they are capable, resilient, empathetic, flexible and self-motivated. From expressing concern about the wellbeing of their teachers to embracing online learning at the kitchen table, young people are demonstrating that they are more outwardly-focused, connected, motivated and work-ready than they are often given credit for.
There are early indications that some students are finding that the online learning environment suits their circumstances better than the traditional classroom model. As reported by Robert Bolton in the Australian Financial Review, school ‘attendance’ has been higher since the move to online learning, with data collected by Compass Education finding that the absentee rate has halved. There also appears to be some evidence that certain groups of students are benefitting from the move to digital learning; those who are introverts or suffer from anxiety report that the online learning environment works well for them. Other advantages that could be encouraging greater online attendance include the improved ability of gifted and special needs students to learn at their own pace. Other benefits will range from higher quality online teaching materials and improved teacher collaboration, including across international borders, to a greater appreciation of the vital role that teachers play in educating and caring for the wellbeing of young people.
The OECD agrees that digital learning is here to stay with its worldwide education survey, PISA, focusing on ‘Learning in the Digital World’ in 2024. “These skillsets,” states the OECD, “are essential in preparing students to learn autonomously in an increasingly complex and digital world.”
What a joy it is for many of our Years Pre Prep-1 and 11-12 to now be back in the school. After just under one week, they seem to have made really good adjustments back to classroom teaching and learning. Many of the girls I have spoken with in the Secondary school have also spoken to me of what they learnt about themselves and their learning in the online environment. I thought I would share the comments from four of the students I spoke to below:
I learnt that structure was important for me. I made sure that I set my alarm at the same time every day, got up and had breakfast and got my books and materials ready for the day ahead. This helped me be ready to learn each day. I was focussed and I think this helped me in having very little issues with my learning online.
I missed my classmates! Having said that, my teachers helped our classes remain connected. I learnt that this connection is more important for me than I realised. I learnt to email my teachers if I was having difficulty with a concept, and I took notice of the feedback I was given to assist me in improving my work.
I learnt to motivate myself to maintain a routine. I missed my sport, so I made sure I stayed connected through the online programs the school offered. I took part in the Interhouse Virtual Cross Country – that was fun. It helped me to maintain motivated with my schoolwork as well.
I learnt to pace myself. Online learning allowed for me to go at my own pace, but I soon learned that I couldn’t take random breaks all the time or I would end up working too long outside of school hours. I think it will help me with the pacing of my study and assignments in the future.
I wish all our other year levels and students that are still learning online all the best for the next couple of weeks – we look forward to welcoming you back soon!
The gift of connectedness - being together, yet apart
I am sure many of us could share stories about how we have stayed connected during this time of isolation. Recently, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 93rd birthday via Zoom. It was a great time of gathering as we sang Happy Birthday out of sync. I think this pandemic has not only revealed resilience, but how people have been able to move with each change together.
Many of us have learned new skills in abundance, in how to stay connected, including my mother-in-law using Zoom to participate in weekly Sunday services at her local church. Our students, staff and families have also learned to stay connected. I have heard of virtual social gatherings and all sorts of different ways to stay connected. There have been wonderful stories about how our school community has stayed connected which reveals an extraordinarily resilient community who is prepared to learn new ways.
I’m reminded of the bible reading from Ecclesiastes 3, everything on earth has its own time and its season. In this season of disruption we have had to be intentional in the way we have stayed connected. Let’s continue to be intentional in how we connect with family, friends, our school community and the world.
On Sunday, we welcomed back a large number of Years 11 and 12 Boarders. It was so good to see them, and they were all excited to be back. Unfortunately, some of their mothers were sad to bid farewell to their daughters at the Boarders Gate, especially as it was Mother’s Day, but the girls’ enthusiasm quickly took over. They had to refrain from hugging each other, but there were many squeals of delight as they reunited after an absence of six weeks.
There have been some recent changes to our processes and procedures in Boarding and the girls have quickly adapted to the new expectations. All our Boarders are lucky enough to be housed in individual dorms and they have taken the opportunity to spread their belongings out all over the spacious areas, and I worry that they will not cope when things return to normal.
The House Mothers are continuing to contact the girls living off campus using different means and we love hearing what the Boarders have been doing at home and how they are coping with online learning. What we hear most is that the girls miss their friends.
We have started a recycling initiative in the Boarding House, as the use of plastic disposable water bottles is growing. We have seven recycling containers stationed in and around the Boarding House. The bottles will be recycled fortnightly and the money raised will go towards something for the Boarders. I have asked for suggestions, and so far, have received a request for a puppy. Somehow, I don’t think this will happen.
We miss the Boarders that are away from us and we are proud of their ability to adapt to the changing times. We look forward to being all together again under one roof in the near future.
Year 12 Confirmation and ATAR Indications
The QCAA is currently working through the confirmation of the first Internal Assessments for all schools. The timeline for the confirmation of results has been delayed, but it is hoped that we will be able to publish confirmed results for our students by the first week in June.
I have been asked by parents and students if we are able to give an updated ATAR Indication at the end of semester; the short answer to this is no. The last ATAR indication was based on all Year 11 assessment (4 items) and with only one or two assessments completed in Year 12, this is not enough data to accurately calculate another indication. The QCAA will soon announce how they are going to calculate the overall subject score with one less assessment and my message to the girls is still to look at banking results and look at how they can improve a mark at a time to be included in the overall subject result from their internal assessment.
Again, if you have any questions, please email or call Rosie Parisi to set up a time to talk on 3860 0826.
Year 10 SET Planning and Parent Information Meeting
Next week will begin the process of SET Plan meetings with all Year 10 girls to discuss senior study pathways and outcomes of the Career Avenue discussions. All students should have booked meetings with their allocated staff member and we are looking forward to planning with them. Next week, these meetings will be held through the Microsoft Teams platform with the students. From the 25 May it is hoped that we can meet face to face; however, this will be confirmed with students after this date.
Along side the SET Planning process we are going to be holding a Parent Information Session online for all Year 10 parents on Thursday 4 June. This session will include information about the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE), ATAR and Subject and Portfolio Pathways offered. More information on how to engage in this online session for parents will be forwarded next week.
The Curriculum Handbooks for Year 8 (2021), Years 9 and 10 (2021-2022) and Year 11 (2021) are now available for students to access on the POD under the tile “CETLE Students”, located on their respective Year Level page. Each Handbook outlines the different courses on offer and also information about the process for subject selection.
Students currently in Year 8 will have the opportunity to attend an interview with either myself, Mrs Fiona Spooner - Head of Junior House Boarding, Mrs Ysabella Dawson - Head of Year 8 or Ms Louise Burgman - Learning Enhancement Coordinator. These interviews will be approximately 5-7 minutes in duration and their primary purpose will be to support students with the subject selection process. At this stage, it is planned that these interviews will be run using Microsoft Teams as the platform to meet with students; however, this may change if school opening rules change.
The School Journey
Although school can be a stressful time for students and parents, there are a number of strategies which can be applied to help reduce anxiety and allow students to perform at their best. It is important to prepare their brains for success. Studies have shown there is a clear connection between students taking care of their health and their productivity during their years at school.
Not all stress is bad; the art is in finding the right balance. Having the right amount of stress can encourage students to be at their optimal level of alertness, behavioural and cognitive performance. It helps tune their brain and focus. Therefore, it is important to understand how best to support your child’s wellbeing during this time. This will help them achieve to the best of their ability. The emphasis should remain on their good mental health, wellbeing and the effort they are putting in. The student brain has a lot going on, so understanding how it works will help them get the most out of their brain power. For more information regarding this, please refer to the Parent Resources and Student Wellbeing Hub located on the POD.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the effects of gratitude. Researchers studying gratitude have found being thankful and expressing it to others is good for health and happiness. Someone saying thanks and someone receiving thanks not only improves a one-to-one relationship but can bring entire groups together – inspiring a desire to help and connect in people who simply witness an act of gratitude. No doubt thankfulness was expressed to all mothers over the weekend.
Last week, students in Prep to Year 4 were the recipients of a generous act. Mr Jonathan Weinert, Principal of JW Concepts Landscape Architecture firm generously shared his time and knowledge to help these girls prepare and plant our vegetable gardens. Years 3 and 4 students, at home, will have the opportunity to do the same when they watch the ‘how to’ video. The girls expressed their thanks in letters of gratitude.
Our week commenced with the full effect of group gratitude, when the class parent representatives organised for students in their year level to create a video saying “thank you” to the teachers for their efforts and dedication to teaching the girls online. These were then collated by parent, Georgie Robson into one PowerPoint named, “The Thank You Project”. This project is real evidence of the effects of saying thank you; the teachers were chuffed by the heartfelt messages from the students and appreciative of parents taking the time to send messages.
I personally would like to say thank you to the families who have supported my endeavours to raise money for our fundraiser, “Helping for Hundreds”. I have loved saying “hello” to students at their homes and thank them for their generous donations. Currently, I have raised $590 in addition to the online donations. This money is a small contribution to the millions of dollars needed to help find a vaccine for COVID-19. Our fundraising appeal, inspired by the Year 5 girls has triggered a wonderful chain of events - with State and Federal Government funding, followed by millions of dollars pledged from big corporations.
Each of these experiences certainly support the research that showing expressions of gratitude, one-to-one, has the power to reverberate through the wider community.
St Margaret’s Spotlight
Given that we are currently unable to present student recitals, the St Margaret’s Music Department would like to provide students with the opportunity to share their musical abilities through online video performances. Each week on the St Margaret’s Music POD page we will share several videos of girls performing on their respective instruments. This week, we are very happy to share a performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow performed by Jemima Given (Year 6) on the clarinet, accompanied by her great uncle on the violin.
If your daughter is interested in sharing a video of a performance, 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 over the coming weeks! Please click here for more information from our 2020 Music Captains.
As the country takes steps towards relaxing restrictions, St Margaret’s Sport would like to refer the community to the recently announced AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport in a Covid-19 Environment; please click here to view. It is this Framework, combined with the Queensland State Government’s ‘Roadmap to Easing Restrictions’ that QGSSSA is working with to plan modified sports programs in Term 3. A statement from QGSSSA regarding sport for 2020 will be released late next week.
Virtual Interhouse Cross Country Results
It has been inspiring to see the Secondary school community come together (whilst apart) and participate in the first ever virtual Interhouse Cross Country. Over the course of one week, 395 students and staff laced up their joggers and ran, walked and jogged for their House, totalling a staggering 4,041 kilometres. Congratulations to all participants and supporters on their level of effort and enthusiasm for this initiative. All results can be found below:
Overall Distance House Champion - Kendall
Top 3 placings for each Age Group
It is great to see our Senior Art students back in the studio this week. They have worked very well at home. Their concentration whilst drawing and painting at home has been very impressive, in particular, our Year 9s who have creatively used materials, on hand from home, to create ‘Still Life’ compositions, which were then photographed.
We congratulate Magdalen (Maggie) MacLean, Year 9, who has created a lovely image. Maggie is our “Artwork of the Month - May” recipient.
In 2018, St Margaret’s launched the 'Going for Bold' Capital Campaign which has supported a major reimagining of St Margaret’s sports precinct. The Campaign has now concluded and thanks to the community's generosity over the past two years, just over $1.3m was raised for the new precinct which is scheduled to open in August 2020.
On behalf of St Margaret’s, the Foundation gratefully acknowledges the generous philanthropic support of our donors who have contributed to this most exciting and significant project in St Margaret's 125-year history.
Much progress has been made on the construction since last term. You can view the most recent time-lapse footage of the progress on site via this link.
The facility boasts a water polo sized heated pool enabling students to swim and train for sports such as lifesaving and water polo all year round, new tennis courts with lights, and a modern gymnasium, a high-tech strength and conditioning gym, and contemporary HPE classrooms.
We hope you enjoy watching this amazing new facility come to life!
What’s new this week in Careers…
UQ - ATAR for provisional entry in 2021
The University of Queensland has adjusted their 2021 ATAR threshold requirement for provisional entry to Medicine to 95.
Griffith Eng: griffith.edu.au/griffitheng
Griffith Chem or Griffith Phys: griffith.edu.au/stem-pathways
Start university while still at school
The following universities offer programs which enable high achieving Years 11 and/or 12 students to study a university subject. Subjects may be free and may provide credit towards a university degree and/or guarantee entry to a degree at the end of Year 12. Successful completion of a university subject will contribute credit towards your Queensland Certificate of Education and may give you adjustments towards your QTAC application. Entry to these programs must have the support of your school and your parents.
Visit the Careers page on the POD for more information on these topics, plus 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