PARENTS and CARERS
Dear Parents and Carers,
I would like to take a moment to stop and recognise the remarkable achievement you have made over the past 2 months.
Seemingly overnight your world was turned upside down. As the full measures of the restrictions in our country due to COVID-19 came to light businesses closed, people lost jobs, strict social isolation measures were put into place and the anxiety of an uncertain future became a heavy load to bear. This was unexpected for us all and on its own was difficult to process. But, that was not all. Right at that time of uncertainty you were told that schools were closed and you needed to become learning supporters to your children at home.
I hope that you have felt well supported by us as a school. We have certainly worked hard to provide our families with a quality experience of remote learning, but I recognise the challenge that was for you as parents.
Trust me, I know.
I acknowledge that every household would have had a unique experience. Some found it challenging, some loved it and some had a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Those who have young children had a different experience to those who have teenagers. Split, mixed or single parent households had challenges that the nuclear family did not. Families that have children with learning difficulties or disabilities had a range of challenges that many others were not aware of. Once again, regardless of your journey with remote learning, I hope you felt our support.
As our students, your children, have returned to school this week we have been so impressed to see what they have achieved at home. We applaud you for your commitment and dedication. In this phase of remote learning you have gone above and beyond and have been more than ever ‘hands on’ in partnering with us. (Maybe more than you thought you were in for!) We recognise more than ever the value you have placed in your child’s education and in particular Christian education.
So please, take a moment to celebrate during this challenging time. It is important to acknowledge milestones, and the completion of remote learning is one you should acknowledge. Don’t let this week just roll into the next. You should be proud of yourself. We are proud of you and are blessed to have parents who are so dedicated to their children’s learning. Mark the occasion somehow. You deserve it!
PS – We’ll take it from here…..😊
First Day Back
You are living through a remarkable time. Years into the future you will be talking to your grandchildren about 2020 as the year that changed the world. Schools were closed but you had to keep on working, you were isolated from your friends but you found ways to communicate, you couldn’t do the activities you loved like sports and dance lessons but you adapted and found ways to improve yourself and your skills within the boundaries of your own homes.
2020 was the year that you became known as the ‘Resilient Generation’.
This pandemic has been a huge part of your short lives. For older people (like me) when crisis comes, we tend to look for stability. We ‘batten down the hatches’ and try to stabilise our lives in whatever way we can. That is justified and normal. But stability is a poor long term strategy for recovery and flourishing, resilience is a better one.
Stability weathers the storm, but resilience uses the storm to grow, to flourish, to improve, to re-invent, and to re-frame. The most successful people who come through this will be those who ultimately use resilience as a strategy – and I know your generation will be the best prepared to do this.
Many things that we were certain of in the past are no longer certain. Out of this time will come new versions of everything. Things that don’t change or adjust will be lost as the world changes. We can’t just hope that things will go back to normal. In many cases they won’t and in some cases they shouldn’t.
So now that restrictions are easing and school is back I want to encourage you all to move from stability, panic and emotion to resilience. Ask yourself questions like:
- Where in this can I grow?
- What is this teaching me?
- What do I need to let go of?
- What is the gift within this where no one can see a gift through the wrapping that is so terrible?
- What are the opportunities?
- What are some new ways to do old things?
It is this resilient thinking that will help you to use the storm to become bigger and better and smarter and allow you to come through this as the leaders in our society. You will be the head and not the tail. You will be the people the world looks at to follow. You can do it! I believe in you.
It has been so good to see you in person this week. The staff at Cedars and I have missed you greatly.
Remember, your parents did not ask to be your learning supporters over the past two months. They had it thrust upon them. If you had arguments with them about learning at home, or if you got frustrated because they forgot how to work out binomial equations and couldn’t help you, just remember this was hard on them too. Say sorry, say thank you, give them a hug. They deserve it.
PS – I have always been proud of you, but I can’t wait to see what you do with the world you have been handed.
TEACHERS and SCHOOL STAFF
Dear Teachers and School Staff,
In all my years of working in schools I have never met a teacher or staff member who didn’t have the best interest of their students in mind. Sure, they may have had different ways of showing it, but they all cared. I have always known this about the people in our sector. We care for children.
But, I have never seen it more demonstrated or outworked than I have over the past 2 months.
There have been times when you have rallied together to learn new things. To get up to speed with technology and to re-design learning activities and programs so they could be delivered at home and be accessible for students and parents. The hours you have put in, the quality of what you delivered and the care you have shown each student and each other has been noticed, not just by me but by our parents, our students and your colleagues.
We navigated change as it was announced on the nightly news and given timeframes of days or weeks to implement educational reform that has previously taken years. Are you feeling exhausted? Don’t respond, I know the answer.
When you have worked unsustainable hours and I asked you to slow down or told you to stop, your response has been “I know I need to, but I can’t let my students down.” Rightly or wrongly, you put the needs of your students and the families of Cedars above your own and I couldn’t stop you even when I tried. I know that it is built into who you are as a person. God has given you the gifts to be a great educator or support worker. The training and development you have undergone has sharpened your skills, but it is your character that has shone through during this pandemic and I am proud to work alongside you.
I also want to acknowledge the staff that were on site at school every day through the pandemic. There was a core team here who supported the children of essential workers, who kept the learning happening and the school running in a time when most of us were in isolation ourselves. To that team, once again, I see your dedication and commitment to our students and families.
As a school, we will continue to learn and grow together. We will develop new and innovative ways to educate our students into a future that is unknown to all of us. The one thing I do know is, that after the test of the past couple of months, we are up to the challenge!
I can’t seem to find the words to express how I really feel, so until I do, I simply say: