Learning by experience

19 June 2020

Learning by experience

Before I was married I decided to hop on a plane and move to South America. I'd never been there before, I didn't know anyone and I couldn't speak Spanish. My goal was simple and possibly even naive – to teach Economics in an international school and contribute to the work of a local church.

Arriving in a foreign place and being fairly clueless meant that I had to learn a lot quickly. What I read and was told proved invaluable to keep my head above water and eventually equipped me to start making a contribution to the lives of others. However, it was the challenging experiences that arguably taught me more than the literature I read. Challenging experiences teach us to be resilient, make wise decisions in stressful situations and, most importantly about our relationship with God.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

In the upcoming July staff week, which is the 3rd week of the winter holidays, teachers will be dedicating a significant amount of time to considering what they learnt from the move to remote learning and back to face-to-face teaching. I have particularly encouraged them to look at 3 key areas – effective communication, the use of technology and assessing student learning. I am confident that students will benefit from our teachers collaborating on how they can improve student learning outcomes based around these 3 topic areas.

Because I am a great believer in learning by experience, I was excited to receive news from the government the other day that restrictions around what schools are able to do has been further relaxed. This means that we can recommence our outdoor Junior School assemblies each day. While we will continue with Zoom assemblies for the remainder of this term, from the beginning of Term 3 parents will be able to come along to the Friday assembly when we distribute awards, providing they practice social distancing. We are also recommencing our Monday Secondary School assemblies.

Other exciting developments include being able to run a Secondary School athletics carnival next term, as well as our annual creative arts festival, known as Expression. We will be able to gradually start offering some excursions, although there are still restrictions on certain types of outdoor activities. At this stage, we are confident that we can run the camps later in the year that were postponed in May. Because we have only just received the advice from the government, the school is still working through how to reintroduce other activities or features of school life. We will keep you posted, either through the newsletter or by separate emails.

While it is great to celebrate restored opportunities, we also need to remain vigilant and responsible when it comes to social distancing and hygiene practices. The discovery of a COVID19 case at a school in Caringbah recently was an important reminder that the school needs to strike a wise balance between embracing opportunities and taking reasonable steps to protecting community members from the virus. Please pray that our school leaders will make wise judgements in this regard. I encourage parents to use the government symptom checker when making judgements about how to manage health concerns in their family that may be consistent with COVID19 symptoms. 

While very unlikely, the school needs to be open to the possibility that the Department of Health could close the school because of a confirmed case of the virus. Therefore, I have written a plan on how to manage this situation. The plan has been posted to our coronavirus website page

Thank you for your encouraging partnership with the school as we continue to care for and educate your children.

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