By Mrs Deanna Hollis, Head of Secondary
During these unusual times it would be easy to focus on how hard things are, but I want to take this opportunity to do the opposite. I would like to sing the praises of the secondary staff from the highest point in Scone, not only because they have been working incredibly hard and doing really well adapting to a changing environment but because they are great examples of our strengths-based approach to learning and of using the Grammar Minds dispositions.
About 10 weeks ago we started talking to staff about the possibility of teaching classes remotely. At first, some were overwhelmed, confused and daunted by the prospect, but that disappeared quickly, and everyone was on board, willingly trying things with their classes. That sounds like a response you would expect teachers to have, but please remember we are talking about staff who have been confidently walking into classrooms for some time knowing how a lesson would look. Staff who are used to reacting to the looks on students’ faces, seeing what those students need, were thrown into a place where they have been seeing at most four faces at a time. We became dependent on internet availability and lost the immediate interaction of students in our rooms.
The secondary staff have found many ways to use the technology we have to overcome the problems they faced. Katherine Davidson, Jason Buckley and Tim Edwards are some of the superstars for Resourcefulness, intent on finding different tools to use, like Flipgrid, for recording music with different instruments and putting it all together in a clip to demonstrate a technique for Elective Music or to maintain the interest of a year 7 class, or teaching senior Physics to two classes at the same time on two screens and demonstrating experiments to the class. Staff across the board have dialled up their Bravery, overcome their fears and persevered to give students the best experience possible. I have many examples of this but the standout has been Chris Brennan, who will happily tell everyone she isn’t good with a computer, but she has tried, persevered and successfully run an assessment task for her year 11 class through a Teams meeting while all her students and Chris were off campus.
The creativity I have seen has truly amazed me, including Drama rehearsals running via a Teams meeting and Art programmes completely changed so that students can use things found in most houses and science experiments done over kitchen sinks.
I had a parent ask me earlier this year why we bother knowing what our student’s strengths are and why we focus on Grammar Minds. It is times like these that show you the answers in flashing lights. The secondary staff have constantly demonstrated the Grammar Minds dispositions Resourcefulness, Collaboration, Imagining, Planning and Perseverance as well as their strengths of Bravery, Creativity, Leadership and Teamwork and this has impacted our students. Students can see the staff using the strengths and dispositions they are being taught to use and they have seen it make a difference.
The whole secondary staff have done and continue to do an amazing job; I have highlighted only a few examples. Our students have seen the difference staff can make when they share the learning.