MR ALAN JONES
As we move towards the end of this current term I would like to thank students, staff and parents for their support and encouragement in this most difficult of times. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions the scenario that we are faced with is brand new, even for someone who has been involved in education for as long as I have. Each day brings its own challenges and each of those challenges requires a response and I believe, once again The Armidale School community has risen to the occasion.
We continue to operate, as stated in our communication, up until the end of the term in circumstances never before experienced. A large number of our students are already working remotely and I have been enthused by the level of use of the Zoom platform and the students accessing Canvas to get on with their classwork. There have been a number of challenges, often to do with an internet connection, but teachers are doing their best to assist all their students and will continue to post work on effective platforms for those students.
As stated above, the school term will conclude on Friday 3 April for all students. Week 11 will be used by staff for further professional development and preparation for perhaps ongoing remote learning in Term 2 if necessary.
At this stage school will resume on 28 April but as we all know the situation continues to evolve and we will continue to keep you informed as further developments and decisions come from the State and Federal governments as well as the AIS (Association of Independent Schools).
Both Easter and Anzac Day fall in the upcoming holidays – these are events that we would all normally celebrate together as a school community but it is still a time to reflect on the Easter message and be thankful for the sacrifices made by all members of our armed forces.
SCHOOL COUNSELLOR - MS ALIX GOUDGE
This week will see most of you having transitioned to a virtual reality when it comes to schooling and work. I am making this transition myself in addition to my family and I have to admit, it’s not always been smooth sailing! You may be noticing emotions such as fear, anxiety, frustration and anger which are showing up a lot for you right now. You may notice thoughts creating difficult scenarios in your mind, worrying about financial difficulties, the risk of contagion, finding social isolation challenging or noticing the distance from loved ones, there could be thoughts of boredom or perhaps relational difficulties at home with family or online with friends. Please be assured this is normal, and you are not alone!
Some things you can do which may help to ease the challenges of now are:
You will hopefully have seen the image on the TAS Instagram and Facebook page which shows a lovely simple image of what we can and can’t control when it comes to COVID-19. This image can be used, and indeed I use it a lot in counselling, to look at any aspect of life. There are extremely few things we can really control in life. We cannot control the thoughts and feelings which will show up for us, we have no control over the behaviours, thoughts and feelings of others, just like we can’t control the weather. We really can only control OUR behaviours. So let’s try and focus on what behaviours we can engage with, as much as possible given the limitations of our circumstances, that will allow us to live within our values. Put simply, values are our hearts deepest desires: how we want to be, what we want to stand for and how we want to relate to the word around us. If you want to know more about clarifying values and using this to guide behaviour, please get in touch with me.
It may be helpful to create daily routines, particularly during the week days – get up at the same time, make your bed, set meal times at the same time each day, stick to the school routine as much as possible.
It might be good to set non-academic or work related goals you want to achieve over the next few weeks – read a new book, watch a new TV series, do some home maintenance you’ve been putting off, start that exercise program.
Try to make room for whatever thoughts and feelings show up. Simply make room for these to exist inside you, whilst you get on and do the things you need to do. Try and be curious about what is showing up and accept that, for now, this is what is there. Accepting does not mean you want or like these thoughts and feelings, it just ‘is what it is’. If you’d like to know more about how to do this, please get in touch with me.
Be kind to the people around you, and to yourself! You didn’t choose to be in this situation, no one did. Even in the presence of great difficulties and intense emotions, we can still choose how we behave – by engaging with our values, through choices and actions consistent with them, rather than on what we feel or think.
I, like all other health professionals, am embracing telehealth – you can link up with me for counselling sessions on Zoom or over the phone. This service is available to the whole TAS community – parents, students and staff. Please email me to set up a time firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Alix Goudge
MR RICHARD NEWTON
MRS RACHAEL NICOLL
The end of Term 1 is fast approaching and faster than was initially planned. I know my kids are celebrating the early demise of term time and the extra week holiday that they are receiving due to Coronavirus. However, they are also scared and worried about the future, bemoaning the lack of trips away, missing planned activities, and missing get-togethers with friends and family that they were looking forward to.
This holiday period is going to be very different from our normal term break. We will all be holidaying at home with only our close family. Rather than the chaotic Easter Break that we had all planned we will be catching up on family time – whether we wanted to or not! Given the time we are now guaranteed to be spending with family over the holidays I am going to make the most of it. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future so I’m going to make the most of now!! Below are the ruminations of a P&F President – indulge me a little as I’m feeling sentimental.
My boys are getting older much more quickly than I believed possible and I am going to use this time I’ve been given to try to connect with them more. In a couple of years, they will be gone – so I’m going to concentrate on making long-lasting connections with these young adults. Board games, family discussions about anything and everything, teaching them to bake their favourite foods, exercising together and even joining them in playing a computer game or two (which will cause them great laughter) are all on the list. I want to appreciate their senses of humour, learn more about their opinions on life and understand their fears and aspirations for the future. Too often during our normally hectic lives, I end up yelling at them, ignoring what they say or pushing them out the door. I may still do this but my intentions are to take a deep breath and touch base with them rather than yell. Finally, as they head towards adulthood I also want to use this time to remind them of the importance of being confident in themselves, kind to everyone, honest in their emotions and responsible for the tasks that they need to do. They might be heartily sick of me by the end of this period of social distancing but hopefully, we will also be closer as a family.
Whilst I am in my immediate family bubble I don’t want to lose contact with friends and family. I’m a terrible correspondent but I’m trying to be better at picking up the phone, sending an email or posting on Facebook. We have, as my wider family group, also set up a new WhatsApp group to stay in contact and our close family members have started scheduling regular Zoom meetings to catch up in ‘digital person’. Recording significant and trivial times during our families lives are important. I am abysmal at remembering to take photos so I have very few records. Therefore I’m going to try and take lots of photos and video so that when we look back at this terrible time we will have some good memories as well. I will also try and send snippets to my family and friends who are missing these times in person so that they can be there is spirit.
I don’t know what TAS families are intending to do for the holidays but I thought I would let you know what I’m wishing to take out of this challenging, chaotic and distressing time. I know the next several months will go down in the history books for all the wrong reasons and families are dealing with job losses, business shutdowns, health concerns and other COVID-19 catastrophes and my thoughts are with everyone during this difficult time. But, for my own mental health and that of my family, I want to take some positives out of this period as well.
To the TAS staff thank you and well done for getting us to the end of this term. Enjoy a well-deserved break.
To everyone, may you all have some rest and relaxation over this break so that you can tackle the months ahead. I hope everyone stays safe during this time and wish everyone the best of fortune in the days ahead. Stay in touch and don’t be a digital stranger!!
Mrs Rachael Nicoll
MR LUKE POLSON
The remainder of this Week – until Friday 3 April
All classes will be taught online, regardless of whether the student is at TAS on campus or at home.
Supervision for students who remain on campus will be provided while they are completing their lessons online. All supervised classes will maintain appropriate social distancing.
We continue to await further advice from NESA in regards to Drama/Music group performances, VET placements and major works/projects. The NESA COVID-19 Response Group is due to meet today, 1 April and any developments from this meeting will be relayed to students. NESA has confirmed that all students in Year 12 2020 will still be able to get a HSC this year and yesterday, the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) confirmed that Year 12 students will still be able to get an ATAR this year. The full text of this media release can be found at: https://www.uac.edu.au/media-releases/atar-going-ahead-in-2020
We will provide further advice to students in Year 12 when it is made available to us. At this stage, Year 12 are encouraged to continue:
-Keep learning, do your assessments, make progress on your major projects.
-Look after yourself, whether you are at school or at home.
-Reach out to family, friends and your teachers if you need to.
-Go to UAC COVID-19 updates for information about entering university in 2021.
Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) advice re: COVID 19: https://www.uac.edu.au/uac-covid-19-update
I attach here for your reference our expectations that has been sent to students and discussed with them. We would appreciate your reinforcement of this with your children as we work together during this time to provide the continued academic units online. This is also available on the Student and Parent Portal of the TAS Website.Student Expectations
Due to the current circumstances, we will be modifying the arrangements for Year 12 Parent Teacher Interviews. Between now and the end of term, teachers of students in Year 12 will make contact with parents to discuss student progress to date. You can expect to hear from these teachers over the coming week, if you haven’t done so already.
As this is the final TAS Talks for this term, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our students and staff for the way that they have embraced the moved to online learning. For our staff, this has been a particularly busy time as they transition to a different approach to teaching, whilst maintaining our current academic units with as minimal disruption to students as possible. Next week, our staff will be looking to further refine our Remote Learning approach as part of our staff development week and plan for future content. Any feedback regarding our online learning can be sent directly to me at email@example.com Any communication over the coming weeks will continue to be forwarded to those students and parents whom it may impact, particularly those in Year 12.
Look after yourselves and each other,
MR WILL CALDWELL
As we all adjust to a life of relative isolation, our greatest need and challenge is to stay connected. I seem to be saying this a lot lately, but I genuinely believe that challenges bring out the best in people – and this one will be no different. Over the past week I have had many exciting conversations with staff and students about what our co-curricular program could look like in a remote setting.
What these conversations have reaffirmed is just how much people care about the wellbeing of students. Whilst all our activities have value in their own right, what they all provide are connections; an opportunity for individuals to share their interests and passions. We will never replicate the real thing but the good news is that the current situation will not be forever! We need to weather this storm together and be creative in how we engage and interact.
“We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails”
Last Friday, the following captains were appointed for Football, Netball and Rugby, completing the leadership team for 2020.
We were unable to assemble as a school to celebrate these appointments, however, I take the opportunity now to congratulate our new leaders and offer them my full support. Our co-curricular captains drive the culture within their activity. Now, more than ever, we will rely on their leadership to engage and inspire other students.
Mr Will Caldwell
Director of Co-curricular
MR MARK HARRISON
I feel sure you are managing as well as can be expected under current circumstances: it’s school time and they’re with you. They’re safe and this is the most important concern we must all manage. In between times of supervising, in the PDHPE rooms and the Middle School classrooms, those who are still with us, we’ve been working. In fact, the Middle School staff have been working really hard. For example, we’ve been ‘getting our heads around’ Zoom presentations, Canvas inclusions and we’ve continued to assist one another with different ways of communicating our lessons so that those who are with you can continue to benefit from class instruction from a distance. Mrs McKellar, Mrs Brunsdon, Miss Macri, Mrs Pollard and Mrs Kreuzen had a meeting yesterday to pool ideas about one specific issue – keeping your children engaged as much as possible. One of the best things about teaching for me is learning new ways of delivering lessons – and we’re lucky we have such variety in the Middle School. You’re lucky, too.
There’s not much we can assist you with in terms of ‘parenting’, but we can help you with issues relating to learning processes – another really healthy sign at the moment is communication between us. Quite a number of you families have sent emails to us regarding this latter issue. Needless to say perhaps, but we’re wise this week to have open lines of communication: our common ‘vested interest’ needs pretty regular attention. I will continue to make calls to you people, just to see how you are ‘tracking’.
Look after these young people – enjoy their company – we’ll continue to help them from here.
Mr Mark Harrison
Head of Middle School
MR IAN LLOYD
These are very difficult times. With online and home learning now in full swing, I know there have been a wide range of varying experiences. We are here to help wherever we can and the lines of communication are well and truly open….
I have heard so many positive stories that indicate how well the children are travelling but I know this is not easy.
While teachers are indicating that the students are working well, each and every family situation will be different and we must all accommodate this as best we can. Setting up a quiet working environment, assisting children as they work, communicating with teachers, giving kids the appropriate supervision and down time will be different for us all – day to day and family to family. Your personal preference has to come into play for this to work. Again, many approaches are available for you and some will be far more (or less) flexible than others. I suggest you keep experimenting with what works for you and yours, and communicate this to your teachers.
It is important to delineate between social and educational conferencing. Junior School has chosen Seesaw, ZOOM and Google Classroom as the preferred delivery for our students and it is working well. However, we must take care to ensure our young people are principled while using the technology. Please look out for them; look over their shoulders and keep Seesaw, ZOOM and classroom exchanges for school purposes only. Our teachers can and are monitoring exchanges and will intervene where necessary. There have been several interventions already so we are working hard with individuals to minimise these complications where possible.
Please be aware that while your children are wearing headphones, background noise is carried by the microphones and become part of the online meetings (and are therefore recorded.) Please keep all background noise to a minimum to avoid distractions (and some unwanted commentary!)
If children want to connect with each other, please do not use Seesaw or ZOOM. Please act cautiously to avoid less constructive communications and please inform us if we need to intervene. Your assistance will certainly help here.
Lastly, with school-issued iPad and MacBooks, no additional apps are permitted to be downloaded and added. This facility has been blocked to avoid complicated issues with copyright, the purchasing of apps and the maintenance of School property. The IT Department have asked me to pass this on.
As the current situation evolves, we will provide information to parents and students in various ways. Mostly, communications will be during school hours; we all respect that non-work hours are becoming increasingly important to us all. Please use email where possible and, if at all required contact me by email or mobile.
Not all schoolwork set will be designed for assessment and there will be some ‘assignments’ that require less feedback than others. Online learning precludes providing feedback for every piece of work produced; it would not be helpful to attempt to do so. However, all work should be acknowledged, and all teachers will make clear which work takes priority as it is set.
As this situation develops, it is becoming more evident that our emotional health will demand attention. Look after yourselves and each other and we will see you on the other side…..
Happy Birthday to the many Junior School students celebrating between now and the beginning of next term: Norah Al-Qahtani, Joshua Bourke, Emi Fawcett, Harry Fawcett, James Gillman, Thomas McKern, Umraj Nirmaan, Carla Price, George Quast, Heidi Secker, Rory Secker, Bridei Stewart and Peter Thompson.
Mr Ian Lloyd
Head of Junior School
Many of our Junior School staff and specialist teachers have been incredibly proud and amazed at just how well our students have adapted to a new style of learning and teaching in such a short time frame.
The following flyer is a great reminder to us all of the role played by the attributes of the young learners we are all supporting throughout this stage of their learning journey.
It is these qualities-embodied in the IB learner profile -that will develop their international mindedness and prepare them for whatever lies ahead.
These attributes can be used as a useful reflective tool at this time.