This week I checked in with many of our Year 12s, asking how they’re feeling and how they’re finding the online learning. Time and time again, they raised the same points:
Online learning is going well and they are feeling supported and confident;
They miss being at school;
It’s not what they thought Year 12 would be like!
I’m really pleased that every girl I have communicated with has said she is feeling comfortable in the online environment and she is maintaining connections with teachers and knows support is readily available if needed. It’s also nice to hear our girls are missing being at school – we definitely miss having everyone here and we miss the joy and excitement our students bring each day. Every time I see a Girls Grammar girl, I am reminded that we have such a beautiful school, and it’s not because of the buildings or the technology or the activities – it’s because of our students, our staff and families, and our sense of community.
Arguably, our Year 12s have had to endure many changes as a result of COVID19, particularly related to delaying or missing out on many events that are traditionally part of the final year of schooling. Whilst I know they are disappointed, in their emails to me this week they have also expressed their gratitude: for their teachers and their families, for friends and for technology and social media that helps them stay connected despite being so far apart.
Whilst the Year 12s may be feeling a sense of loss because it is their final year, no doubt many of our younger students will be experiencing similar feelings of discontent. These feelings are natural due to the reduced physical interaction, event cancellations and intense media coverage. It is important, therefore, that all students, regardless of their age, have some strategies for maintaining their wellbeing and increasing resilience. Some simple ways include:
encouraging them to recognise the small moments: taking time to process good experiences boosts serotonin which elevates mood and promotes a sense of calm.
finding ways to stay connected: spending quality time with families and connecting with friends helps promote social connections whilst boosting oxytocin, which also supports a sense of peace.
Not only do these strategies help promote calm, they also help to build resilience. Research has shown that when we experience positive emotions on the back of a stressful event, we bounce back more quickly.
Some of the small moments I have enjoyed this week include:
spending time with the Prep to Year 3 girls, particularly watching their enthusiasm during music and singing, observing their earnest endeavours in mathematics and chatting to them during their playtime.
receiving the Year 12 photos from Anzac Day – I was so impressed with their thoughtful, poignant images (check them out on our Facebook page if you haven’t yet seen them).
seeing some of the great learning projects our students have been doing – terrariums, home cooking, court cases, music lessons, scavenger hunts.
connecting with parents via email and chatting with parents on the phone.
getting emails from girls sharing pictures of their learning spaces.
spending time with staff, laughing and enjoying moments with them as we support each other to navigate new ways of working and new roles and activities.
I also want to say thank you again to the parents who have sent us emails and messages of support – these are very much appreciated. We also know there will be hiccups throughout the process, so I am equally grateful to the parents who have contacted me to talk about ways we can better support their daughters. In all the communications I have had this week, there is an overwhelming sense of coming together to find solutions, again reinforcing what a great community we have.
Reiterating Year 12 sentiments, 2020 has been unlike anything we expected and unlike anything most of us have experienced before. I am grateful for how we are rising to the challenge as a community and I am stopping each day to reflect on the little moments and to remember that this time too will pass.
I encourage our students to intentionally hunt the good things and put aside the frustrations. Find time to journal or draw or creatively express thoughts and feelings. Take time to say thank you to those you appreciate for their support and take time out to exercise self-care.
Please continue to send in the photos of great moments of learning, or projects that you’re proud of, or messages you’d like to share. Send them in to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share them.
Best wishes to all our girls and their families for the rest of the week and for the week ahead.
Mrs Deanne Johnston