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An edition from the heart

Mrs Ball’s advice for what it is worth…

Well done and thank you does seem such a little thing to say to everyone in our community. You have gone way beyond expectations and supported us fantastically in this ‘new launch’. You have stayed patient with us when things have had hiccups. You have allowed us the time and space to roll out Week 2 of remote learning. Your trust has been widely felt and we much appreciate the support. So, parents, pupils, staff – thank you to each and every one of you. 

Believe me, I know what the job of teaching entails and I know it is not always pretty. In fact on some days it is down right ugly. Embrace those bumps, bruises and frustrations. You will treasure them one day (when they are over)! You are doing an amazing job of supporting your child in their home schooling during this very challenging time for us all. 

I promise you, the job of a teacher IS endless, thankless and hardwork. BUT I hope you can already see that it is also a joyful and awe inspiring job.

Yes. It REALLY is all of those things. I promise that you will hate your child at some point! That is normal. But the next moment you will see your child as the unique, perfect and brilliant genius that they are. 

My advice starts with my mantra – well known by the teaching staff body. 

The St Peter’s School Baccalaureate®️ is based on Da Vinci’s principles that everyone is a GENIUS at birth. To bring all of that genius to the surface, children need opportunities to practise the following seven key skills of learning: 

  1. Curiosity – to enjoy forming questions and finding answers.
  2. Demonstration – show achievement through writing, drawing, demonstrating, testing, observing and proving. 
  3. Sensation – being able to watch, learn and apply.
  4. Risk Taking – be willing to learn through persistence, experience, the embracing of uncertainty and making mistakes. 
  5. Whole Brain Thinking – making links between subjects – logic and imagination.
  6. Physical Wellbeing – taking responsibility for physical health, safety and development. 
  7. Making Connections – Recognition and appreciation for the interconnectedness of St Peter’s learning and contributing to the wider world of which we are citizens. 

For ease and deeper understanding of these learning skills St Peter’s Preparatory School translates these skills into:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Finding
  3. Presenting

That is it. 

That is the magic recipe. 

(Oh … and lots of fresh air, exercise, good food, good sleep and sense of freedom – even when this is the one feeling that could be absent at the moment). 

That is all we are asking your children to be at home. Same as in school. The set work on Google Classroom will give opportunities for and lead your child to experience these learning skills. The finer detail of the morning’s academia or the afternoon activities (lesson objectives, lesson outcomes, resources, topic titles, quizzes, videos, instruction and written work) is the teacher’s domain. Yours is to encourage good working routines and our three key learning skills: be curious, find things out, present things to others. Chill and watch how they get it wrong and then self correct. 

Children are fascinating. I have been teaching for the best part of 23 years. I am constantly researching educational research and teaching pedagogy. And I promise you I still do not understand children.  Not one of them learns the same. Not one of them holds the same talents or inherent skills. Not one of them plays the ‘game’ of school well every single day of their lives with us. Not one of them is predictable. They seem to excel where you fear they will fail. And fail where you are sure they would succeed. My advice? Get the working relationship right. Be your child’s champion for the next … however long? Watch this clip to see what (the late) Rita Pearson so brilliantly says about how every child needs a champion.  https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en 

Week 1 of remote learning was frenetic (pre – Easter break) and was designed, I suppose, as a litmus test week. We had two days’ notice (1 and a half really) to plan a remote learning platform for 3-13-year-olds for potentially 12 weeks. We took one step at a time. Never looking too far ahead in the future. 

Therefore, it made total sense to say to pupils and parents: ‘Just have a go on Google Classroom and let the children follow their normal school timetable.’ It was the least amount of communication and the path of least resistance for parents, children and staff at that time. We began our journey wanting to cover every lesson and every subject that we do at school. We didn’t want your child to miss out on a single thing we had planned. It was busy and productive, but we quickly realised that this framework was in no way sustainable for parents, staff or pupils. Thank you for your feedback. 

Week 2 has been hailed as a BIG improvement by everyone in our community. But again, parents, try not to focus on the smaller details with your child. We can sort little details out when we are back together in normal circumstances. PLEASE STOP WORRYING ABOUT PROGRESS – THEY ALREADY ARE MAKING MASSES OF PROGRESS – IN MORE WAYS THAN I HAVE TIME TO WRITE ABOUT HERE. 

Focus on your child showing you Curiosity, Finding and Presenting skills. Being excited and loud and raucous and quiet and focused and determined and embracing failure and laughing in the face of challenge. They will grab the opportunities because … they are children! Focus on your child’s health and mental health and focus on being your child’s champion. (You will know when it’s time to switch that computer off). 

We will continue to listen to feedback and change and adapt as we go. We are in this together. Again, one step at a time. It is Mrs Johnston’s mantra.

Let’s hold hands (even when socially distancing), around our whole community and make sure that everyone has their champion. 

Speak again. 

 

Lucy Ball 

Deputy Head Teaching and Learning.