From the VP: Time to reflect
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 8, 6 November 2020, page no. 9
What a cataclysmic year 2020 has turned out to be. As each month rolled around, the memes of the next possible extreme event have been encapsulated in images that remind us to stay alert. They are a stark reminder that the work we do within and beyond the school gate has been challenging and extremely time-critical.
The immediacy of the response of our school sector to the COVID-19 pandemic was remarkable. If we take the time to reflect, as a profession, on the outcomes for us and the students in our care, there are many interesting lessons for the future. The way we delivered education and the decisions made around this created some space for teachers to teach and leaders to lead. What does this mean going forward for us in 2021? Here are some things to reflect on.
- Take the time to rest and recuperate. Teaching is demanding, with lots of time-sensitive requirements. However, the holidays are coming. Set some time during which you do not look at emails. Have that nap, read that book, play that game, watch that on-demand show. It’s deserved.
- Commit yourself to completely switching off from school. In my experience, it usually takes a few days, but after 2020, possibly even longer. Play this game with yourself: How long can you leave it before you actively think about school? It’s deserved.
- How late can you leave it before you actively start to think and plan for 2021? Will it be 1 January, or will it be much closer to official student free day start of 21 January? While we reorganise the curriculum for the students we teach, 2 + 2 still equals 4. How much unit planning needs to be recreated? How long can you leave the nitty gritty of planning for student free days? It’s deserved.
- Ask yourself - what did I not do as a systemic, regional, school or personal level responsibility in 2020 with little subsequent impact on student outcomes but which made my life and that of the school better? I’ll bet, you can very quickly identify one or two things that did not happen and there was no impact. Will there be any harm if it never returns to your classroom, school, program? It’s deserved.
- Meetings – important, yes. Habit, sometimes. Which meetings are critical? This year has provided us all with an opportunity to reflect on what has to be dealt with in a face-to-face meeting, and what can be addressed through an email or phone call.
Here are some of the other some things that occurred in 2020.
- The implementation of the new QCE, including first time confirmation events, internal assessments, external assessments and the provision of the ATAR system for the first time in Queensland’s history.
- A review into the K-10 National Curriculum, with a view to align and reduce repetition.
- We were all on our way to an initial ban on pre COVID NAPLAN. The cross jurisdictional report into NAPLAN was handed down.
- The release of the Principal Health and Wellbeing strategy.
- The Workload Advisory Council kicked off with more than 800 submissions and contributions from many, many more.
- Local and state government elections were held in Queensland.
This is not an exclusive list. But, it is food for thought.
The work teachers and school leaders do on a daily basis is monumental, and was even more so in 2020. Teachers and school leaders – YOU – have reinforced the critical position you hold in our community. You have been on the frontline of a global pandemic response. You have reimagined the work you do – rapidly – more than once this year.
Enjoy your holidays. Play that game, watch that movie, take that day trip. Enjoy the sleep in, the early hours or the gardening. Enjoy your kids, your partner, your fur babies. Go on – you deserve it!