This article was first published in Edition 24 of the Brown Hill Community Newsletter, April 2020
From the Principal's Desk
To the Brown Hill community,
It’s all so very quiet. The shops are quiet, the streets are quiet and our school is also quiet. It’s an incredible time to be an introvert!
One of the most awkward things I have found is not knowing the new protocols. Every supermarket seems to have a slightly different set of rules and, as the supermarket is my only outing at the moment, every time I go I have a slight feeling of panic. This is not necessarily because of fear of COVID-19 but a fear of upsetting someone. I imagine the staff at our supermarkets may actually be the real heroes of this pandemic as they patiently explain for the 400th time how to use the sanitiser near the entry and that their counter is “card only.” Their patience and resilience is to be applauded.
Remote and flexible learning also has us all feeling a little confused. I feel it too, as a teacher and certainly at home as a parent, trying to be some help to my own kids. I don’t understand how to use the websites, I don’t know any of the passwords and I don’t have access to the digital equipment to make it all work at home!
Then I am meant to help with trigonometry. I can barely spell trigonometry! I have not done year eight maths since I was in year eight and although I did do the “hard” maths in year twelve, that was 25 years ago!
So, in my job as a school principal, I have a very clear message for our parents.
It’s OK not to know all the answers, it's OK to not have everything working all the time and it's OK to have to “Google” something that you’ve forgotten. And if you need to protect your dignity (as I have) you can explain that you did know how to do these things when you were 15, but from the ages of 18 to 22 you had a lot of fun and, for some reason, have forgotten the equation for Heisenberg's uncertainty principle or how to apply pi in Euclidean Geometry, (they should be impressed with that and have no idea what you're talking about).
Professor John Hattie (an education expert) was quoted last week discussing the Christchurch earthquake. In the months following this devastating event schools were closed and there was no remote or flexible learning. He studied the results from the Christchurch area and found that, although the students missed a lot of school as a result of the earthquake, they did not face a deficit in learning. In other words this current COVID-19 crisis and remote learning will not break our kids. They will make it through, they will continue to learn and they will be OK!
So, needless to say, this is a very difficult time for us all. I am watching our teachers work incredibly hard to develop new ways to teach, to use technologies that are out of the normal school experience and continue to connect in some way with their students. Our work is built on the relationships we have with students and the deep understandings we develop of their current learning needs. Every teacher here is deeply committed to the students they work with daily and are working well over time to adjust. Mistakes are made, by kids, parents and teachers as we navigate this new environment. However, I can guarantee the efforts of teachers, not just here at Caledonian but across all schools, is incredible.
We are in the middle of a global pandemic, one of the biggest crises we have faced in 100 years. If you feel frustrated with the kids just watch the news, see how bad things are becoming in other countries and remember why we are doing this, why we are locking ourselves away. It’s certainly not to stop people going out for dinner - it’s to save lives. The low level of cases in Ballarat is a sign that this is working.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who are helping at home. This is keeping us all a little safer. Like the workers in our supermarkets, the other real heroes of this crisis are the people who stick it out trying to get through days on end with their kids at home! Your patience and resilience is also to be applauded.
One other thing, and a special message to any parent who has a child going through puberty: We all love our children. Doesn’t mean we have to like them all the time, especially when stuck at home with them!
Keep well. Sanitise often!
Principal, Caledonian Primary School
Mr Ben Moody, Caledonian Primary School Principal, in February 2020 with students. Photographer: Adam McNicol