September 4, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardians,

Happy Friday to you all,

Firstly, I hope that you are managing to keep yourselves mentally and physically well. Someone said to me recently that COVId-19 is a mental health tsunami and so it is. I know that most of us are feeling some sense of loss, and that we have entered a parallel world. That said, I recently read this poem which went viral earlier in the year;

 

“What if 2020 isn’t cancelled?

What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?

A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw 

— that it finally forces us to grow.

A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us 

from our ignorant slumber.

A year we finally accept the need for change.

Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. 

A year we finally band together, instead of

pushing each other further apart.

 

2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather

the most important year of them all.”

Lesley Dwight

 

This poem gives us pause for thought. While COVID-19 has shaken us, our families, our communities and indeed the world to its very core, it has also given us the opportunity to review and reflect on our lives and our priorities.  I personally am hoping that from this experience, we will find better ways to live.

This review and reflection is one that every successful organisation or business has to undertake on a regular basis. For the last two weeks, we have been doing just this with the Online Learning Plan (OLP). The evidence from around the world is that a bricks and mortar schedule does not translate well into an online learning one. Teachers from Pre-K to Grade 12, have been reviewing our structures and comparing them to best practice from other schools around the world and the research about what works best. 

This isn’t an easy task, we have to balance the needs of our very youngest students as well as our very oldest. We have teachers who work across divisions and grade levels, it is a complicated task. 

That said, we know that this is a marathon and not a sprint, and the work we are doing now, will make the OLP more effective and fit for purpose.

Techniques which have been shown to work best for online learning are thing like:

  • A later start for older students. We know our teenagers’ physical development and brains are wired for later starts.
  • Physical and mental break between lessons. Staring at a screen for long periods affects our eyes and is very tiring.
  • Shorter blocks and ‘teaching’ is most effective with 1-2-1 times for support after the students have practiced and applied the learning.
  • Lesson timings which are simplified and easier for younger students to track.

Other feedback which we received from the ISPS community was that many families would appreciate a standard lunchtime. We also know that many families asked for more one to one time for students to get individualized support and asked questions. We were also asked for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for zoom links and classes to avoid students searching through email after email. 

Next week we will be finalizing the adjusted timetable and sharing it with you and students. 

My door is always open, as well as Robert Young, Suzette Julien and the teaching staff. Please reach out if you need too, we value your feedback and support.

Kind regards.

Helen