As we come to the end of this term, it is with much gratitude in my heart that I write this week’s newsletter. This has not been an easy term for anyone, parents, students and teachers alike. We have all had to adapt to a new type of “normal”, adjust our thinking and challenge ourselves in everything we attempted.
I hope you now understand what we mean when we say that ‘teaching is a calling’. I do not think there is any teacher who is in this profession for anything other than the love of children. After all, our children are our future. We nurture them so they may create a better tomorrow.
I salute every one of you parents. You have been challenged in this storm and have endured. At times you might have felt fearful of the unknown, yet every day brings new hope.
I am reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.”
To every student, I wish you a wonderful time of rest during this holiday. May the time spent with family be one of joy and laughter.
To my staff, I wish a time of rest and refreshment. We will start the new term with renewed vigour and strength.
Stay safe and keep warm.
This week I visited my optician and had an interesting conversation. As we both have 15-year old’s at home we naturally got chatting as to how they have been coping during lockdown. Both our children are coping with online-learning and have no issue working independently. As mothers, however, we both feel that something is missing, that they are missing out on something vital. This realization was born out of a shared experience of dealing with a teenage meltdown and it was so good to talk to someone who had had a similar experience.
I shared with her that I gave my daughter an “emotional well-being” day. I told her to not log in to the online-learning portal but rather spend the day doing something she enjoys, whether it be trying a new recipe or finishing her book or puzzle. The important factor was to take a break from what has become the new normal of online work and learning. This break motivated her and she was inspired to continue. Too often we forget that our children are also dealing with this new way of living and that it can cause them to become demotivated.
We have all had different experiences during the lockdown period and as the levels are reduced, we are faced with going back to work and learners coming back to school. Our learners will have to adapt to school life again, but a vastly different school life than what they were used to.
How we will rebuild their morale:
- We must reconnect with our learners before and on their return to school.
- Involve the students in developing a plan to improve the school environment. Things will be different, and they need to adapt. We should therefore allow them their input as we plan the way forward.
- Team workshops with staff where they develop individual improvements plans. We have had a great opportunity to adapt to new teaching methods and this can only improve in time.
I had several private meetings with some of our Year 12 learners this week. They were sad about the planned community projects they were not able to take part in this week.
I am sure that when we return to school, they will once again think of innovative ideas as to how to help our community in the year ahead.
Together we can do better!
Have a wonderful weekend.
We are slowly but surely moving towards the end of the term. I wish to let you all know that your efforts and support of our teachers has not gone unnoticed. It has taken courage, commitment, and tenacity to accomplish what we did this past term and for that, I thank you.
As communicated in our ‘Return to school’ letter, as well as in our Health and Safety Policy document, Blouberg International is ready for the next step. Although we do not have all the answers, I wish to put your minds at ease that the staff of Blouberg International is committed to the safety and education of our children as we enter this next phase of lockdown.
We all have managed to make the best of a difficult situation and we cannot sugarcoat the situation we find ourselves in. There has been many frustrating moments, disappointments, and heartaches. I am particularly mindful of our class of 2020 as there are so many things they are missing out on. There is uncertainty as to whether we can hold their 2020 Valedictory Service and Matric Dance (to some this might seem insignificant, but it is an important event for the matric students).
So how do we help our children process the anger and disappointment they are feeling? They have not been able to socialize with friends for over 60 days and miss their friends, sports, school (bet they never thought they would). They have all had to adjust to a new type of abnormal normality.
- Validating what they are feeling and their emotions. We are validating the emotion, not the behavior. It is important to understand what they feel is real and therefor they need to talk it through to overcome it.
- Create a sense of security within them. They should always be aware that there is a safe haven with you. Reassurance, routine, and regulation is important.
- Increase children’s self-efficacy. Children often feel more in control of their emotions when they can play an effective role in helping themselves.
“In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, and invincible calm. I realized, through it all, that in the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger- something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus
I wish you all a wonderful weekend ahead.
Today, Friday 22nd of May, our high school and admin staff were trained in Risk Assessment and Orientation for COVID 19. Our Health and Safety Committee met on Thursday, 21st May, to finalize the Risk Assessment Document for Blouberg International. As discussed previously, the school is currently being deep cleaned and sanitized for the return of students and staff.
The SMT of the school also met on Thursday to discuss the return of students and the address of our Minister of Education on Tuesday, 19th May. It is important that we keep to the legislation from the Education Department and the government. As an independent school we are awaiting the final decision as to whether we can allow other year groups to return to school; the Year 7’s and 12’s being the initial groups identified by the minister for first return.
We will communicate the year groups to return, date and manner of return, with you as soon as we are able. Even though the minister has authorized certain year groups to return to school, we are mindful that some parents are still not comfortable sending learners back. We are revising our plans accordingly and no learner will be left behind. Our Risk Assessment Policies have been documented and the information will be shared with both staff and learners on their return.
A detailed document will be sent to you within the next week after we have finalized our planning. Our learners will also go through an orientation program on Covid 19 Safety Protocols prior to starting school.
I thank you for your support during this time and assure you that your concerns and suggestions are taken into consideration.
Have a wonderful weekend.
I am sure that, like me, you have mixed feelings about the President’s address last night. Earlier this month, the 5th of May 2020, you received a letter regarding potential dates for the return to school and the measures which need to be in place before this is possible.
Although we are an independent school, we are obliged (as are government schools) to await confirmation from the government before we reopen. Originally, we were informed that students in Year 7 and Year 12 would be returning to school on the 1st of June 2020 and hence, management took the necessary measures of ordering hand sanitizer, face masks, thermometers and having the school deep-cleaned.
The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs. Angie Motshekga, is scheduled to address the nation on Monday the 18th of May, after which we hope to have a better idea of which grades will return to school. The results of our second survey, regarding students returning to school, indicated that 75% of parents are not willing to send their children back for the two weeks before the end of the second term (which ends on the 12th of June 2020). We respect and understand your feelings in this matter and hope to reassure you that the best interests of our students are always at the forefront of our planning. To accommodate the needs of all our students, we will therefore implement a plan of hybrid teaching for as long as is required.
A letter detailing the plan of action for Blouberg International will be sent to you after Minister Motshekga’s address on Monday. Let us continue building our children and planning for a better future for them.
In the words of Nelson Mandela:
“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.”
Have a wonderful weekend
We celebrated our teachers this week and a big thank you to everyone who left them a special message on our Facebook page. It was wonderfully encouraging to see how much they are valued and appreciated.
This week we sent out a second letter explaining the plans and proposals that management are considering should school re-open in June. The measures which need to be in place require careful thought regarding planning and implementation and unfortunately, no simple solutions exist yet. For public schools, Years 7 and 12 students are critical for academic advancement but for us, the focus is on Years 10 and 12 as these two grades write their external Cambridge examinations in October.
There is also the reality that even if the government allows schools to re-open soon, some parents might not feel comfortable sending their children back to school. Our management team are therefore working on plans for hybrid-teaching. Similarly, we might have staff members who cannot return to work just yet as they are high risk individuals and this needs to be accounted for in our planning. These are just a couple of the issues that we are considering.
We will be prepared, with policies in place, to ensure the safety of staff and students when we return to campus. As per the letter I sent out earlier this week, we have already begun purchasing the necessary supplies (hand sanitizers, face masks, thermometers etc.) and have begun drafting a Covid 19 Policy Document.
During this difficult time, let us remember to be kind and encouraging to one another. We all need a bit of motivation in our lives and hopefully the later start to the school day, and the opportunity to exercise, will give us the boost we all need.
I would like to wish all the mothers a happy Mother’s Day this Sunday. I hope you will be spoiled and feel appreciated for all you do!
Like me, I am sure all of you have been following the news avidly, waiting for an announcement from the Minister of Education which will see us return to school. The process of returning to school is a balancing act in which we weigh the need for students to return to the classroom with the necessity of ensuring everyone’s safety. Rest assured though that when the day comes when we do return to school, there will be strict safety measures in place to ensure the safety of everyone on campus.
When I think about returning to school, I realise the enormity of the task ahead of us; the factors we must consider and the preparations which need to take place. Even our ‘drop and go’ routine in the mornings will have to alter radically. We will have to screen temperatures and ensure that all the classrooms remain hygienic throughout the day. It will be a continuous process of sanitizing: hands, doors, desks, bathrooms and corridors. And let’s not forget the all-important face masks!
The questions which roll through one’s mind as we contemplate the process follow a common pattern: Will the children understand the requirement of social distancing? How will we handle classroom management? How do we prevent contact and overcrowding? All these questions and so many more are exactly what we Heads mull over together.
This week we started with our first online assemblies. The responses from 198 students on one platform at the same time was overwhelming, but then as I watched I could see the excitement on their faces and I realized that it was being together again which was evoking such an enthusiastic response from the children. After a vigorous run of muting everyone so we could hear ourselves think, we were able to begin the assembly. We listened to Mrs. Schoots deliver words of encouragement and handed out star certificates. Our second attempt the following day was much smoother and less chaotic.
I am reminded once again of the lessons which we learn something from our children. They have an incredible ability to be resilient in any crisis. They adapt and thrive to any challenging situation we immerse them in and grow to be even stronger than we thought possible. Our involvement as parents in their education is crucial during this difficult time as their daily struggles and achievements provide insight into their development and character.
Let’s not walk away from experience without taking some good lessons with us. Together we are better.
Have a wonderful long weekend!
During this period of e-learning, the question in all our minds is: “Are the students coping?” This new method of teaching and learning is new to all of us and a shade of insecurity here and there is normal.
After observing my own daughter’s work habits, I have come to realise that the connection between students is incredibly important. Often after a lesson she will catch up with her peers as this is an opportunity for them to clear up any uncertainties about the lesson’s content or exchange information about pending assignments.
Collaboration is the key to success. This is not just true for the students, but also for teachers and parents. The support structure which exists between parents, teachers and students has never been more important in the goal of furthering and improving the e-learning experience. Let us not neglect student interaction during this time, as this sharing of information and collaboration would otherwise be a normal part of the school day.
In this theme of collaboration, we will be having our first online assemblies next week. A link will be sent to you via the Engage platform.
Monday, 27th of April, is a public holiday and we will thus continue our online lessons on Tuesday 28 April.
Don’t forget to have fun with your children during this time and I have therefore included a link to indoor activities for our children.
Today would have been the end of the lockdown period, a measure which called for rapid adjustment. I am sure that most of you were just as disappointed as I was to hear that lockdown has been extended. We all understand the necessity of such action, but the daily reality remains tough. We still have family and work commitments, whilst being mindful of what the future may hold. In no way do I mean to sound pessimistic; I would rather speak openly about the reality we face. We must try to not be fearful or become resentful and despondent. We will all undoubtedly suffer twinges of these emotions from time to time, but they are not a healthy place to dwell. We are not always aware of the specific challenges faced by each individual or family, but I believe there does exist a common empathy amongst South Africans. Practice kindness and wherever you can, stretch out a hand or a sympathetic ear.
Parents, we are so grateful for your support during this time. Your encouraging messages and emails are much appreciated. To all my staff, I wish for you to know how proud I am of your hard work and dedication. You continue to serve our students and their families with commitment and care. I am sure you are missing the students as much as I am. We are teachers because we love the interaction our job brings, the daily chatter and bustle of a busy classroom. We all miss the cheerful meet and greets in the morning, the laughter and games during break time. The chatter of voices in the corridors and the slam of lockers. Yes, we miss it all!
May the next two weeks of lockdown be a time of positivity and let’s look forward to the morning school run.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend ahead.
Here are a few ways to remain positive during this time:
- Set boundaries and take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.
- Take time away from the online world (internet, social media, emails etc.).
- Pursue a neglected hobby or take up a new one.
- Keep informed about the situation, but do not become burdened with negativity.
- Reach out to others (within the boundaries of social distancing) and be a blessing in someone’s life.
- Make time for family activities and value the time spent with loved ones.
There is a writer in you, in all of us! This is the perfect time to write that story which may prove to be the inspiration someone else so desperately seeks.
We are all looking forward to hearing our President say that our lives are going back to normal, but hopefully this experience will affect our perception of normal; hopefully it will have taught us new skills and offer us a different way of looking at life.
I wish you all a blessed Easter weekend and hope you enjoy some wonderful family time.