Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi nui atawhai.
2020: Where are the big thinkers in school leadership heading?
We’ve hand-picked five prominent school leaders to share their experiences of COVID-19 with other schools, and demonstrate how they are applying their insights from these experiences moving forward in 2020. You are one of these leaders we’d love to hear from.
This is what arrived in my inbox in mid-June from an IT software company, Edsmart, that specialises in communications technology for schools. Obviously, I was flattered to get the invite but also intrigued as to why Carmel was selected. Edsmart, who powers all our parent and student broadcasts and permission documentation, had looked through school websites to see how leaders were communicating with their communities during lockdown and the invitation was issued based on what they read. It wasn’t a promotion of their product. In fact, in the pre-interview meeting to enable me to decide whether to participate, I was actively discouraged from even mentioning their technology.
Along with Heather McCrae from Diocesan Girls, we held a Zoom meeting in the last week of the term break with three other Australian principals (from Tasmania, the Gold Coast and Sydney) to share our experiences with the 250 global participants who had enrolled to hear about our different experiences and responses.
What I learned was that there was a common theme with the 5 principal panellists around focusing on wellbeing for staff and students, and what was best for our communities, in our particular contexts. There was a strong focus on ensuring that the sense of community as a school is not lost and looking at ways to restore and maintain this engagement.
Another theme was around planning and implementing with the information we had at the time and then tweaking and adjusting as we trialled what was working well and what could be strengthened.
We were also asked to respond about what challenges we are facing now, with the lockdown lifted. Unfortunately, for our Australian colleagues, the prospect of going back into lockdown is still a reality and so they are planning to use what they have learned and building on that.
For Carmel, it is about taking the positives from the online learning experience seeing how these can be implemented into our onsite learning. How do we create some independent learning time for the students? Can we structure longer periods of learning into our timetable?
We have paused our building project while we consider how we want to learn in the future. What do we want to do as learners and then look at building an environment that supports this future focused learning.
“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” — Eric Hoffer