Reflection by Dr Adrian Johnson: Press ‘reset’
As a geographer, I have been intrigued by how COVID-19 has impacted my concept of scale. With the spread of the virus, at times, the world has seemed very small. Then during the lockdown, the world felt larger – and there was this palpable sense of personal isolation; but at other times, as we hunkered down, our world seemed smaller! How vexing!
And then there’s been the need to reassess what is ‘essential’ - our health, the safety of family and friends, and the healthcare workers on the frontline. Even our students ‘missed’ their teachers – so they (politely) tell us. There was certainly this collective confirmation: we are social creatures and being kept away from one another wasn’t normal and couldn’t last too long.
Much has been written about people feeling a sense of unease at this time. But is that all bad? Is there not a silver lining? With so many things these days, there is, surely, sometimes a need to ‘reset’ or ‘restart’, just to take a moment to reflect.
Teachers will often take a moment during a lesson to determine the success of the previous section of learning in a lesson – the technical term is ‘chunk’(!). It is the moment offered to students to ask queries and offer feedback, and for the teacher to determine if their delivery has been effective and that everyone is ready for the next section of the lesson. And it is so important for students to take advantage of this moment, to share their perspective and confirm their level of mastery of the concepts under review.
The world of music offers another case in point. Concertos, for instance, are often broken into ‘movements’ – with the second slower than the first, and the third building to an uplifting ending. That crucial second movement is the time when the listener has time to appreciate the nuances of the piece and absorb the contribution of the orchestra in supporting the soloist. There’s time for everyone to ‘take stock’ before being propelled toward, what is often, a dramatic conclusion.
There’s the punctuation mark in a poem, the well-placed interval in a play - I could go on. It is the change in tempo, and the opportunity to reflect, which impacts the pace and, I would argue, adds to the experience.
I’m not alone in thinking schooling may never be the same post-COVID. The collective professional learning, and resultant change in the practice of teachers, has been nothing short of phenomenal. And I pay tribute here to my colleagues’ professionalism in this regard. Our students have been flexible and resilient – and they have taught us so much in return. Our parents and caregivers have been patient and understanding. It may have been ‘trial by fire’, but I feel we have strengthened as a community as a result.
Whilst we trust it doesn’t happen, there is still, based on the experiences of communities elsewhere, the real possibility of individual school closures in the ACT. We, at Radford, are well placed to do what we need and revert to online learning, should it be necessary. Following the outbreaks in Victoria and NSW, we have refreshed our policies and procedures in readiness.
To coin an oft’ used phrase: “it is what it is” … a day-to-day thing; and we thank you all for your ongoing support. In the meantime, we note each day of relative normality at the College as a blessing.