Mr Andrew Hawkins – Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School
The last few months have been a steep learning curve for world. World leaders, politicians, medical staff, the aviation industry, tourism, parents, teachers, children – the list could go on to fill the page. One observation as a school leader that has struck me is how student and teacher wellbeing are inextricably connected, as are social and emotional learning and student academic outcomes. Without the boys at TSS, the School was not the same and the teachers and corporate staff really missed the daily connections with the boys. Since most boys are now back to school on both campuses, it is clear they missed the social connections with staff and other students too and really enjoying the school routine and structure.
In a recent webinar by UQ wellbeing experts Dr Sasha Lynn, a registered psychologist, and Angela Wood, an experienced teacher with a Master degree in Student Wellbeing, provided tips for teachers and students post the COVID-19 lockdown. Their findings reinforced our observations.
After talking through the neuroscience behind it, Dr Lynn and Ms Wood provided tips for maintaining wellbeing.
“Research has actually shown that poor school connectedness does result in poorer mental health and academic outcomes,” she said. “Connectedness is just as important to teachers.”
Tips were also provided to help students, including mindfulness exercises, play, connecting, sharing jokes and providing fair and warm boundaries. I guess in TSS terms that means ‘mucking around with your mates’ and getting back to team/activity training and practice.
We have an online classroom platform for all Year 7, 8 and 9 boarders and during an online meeting with the Year 8 group I showed them inside the new Annand Theatre construction site on my phone – the first students to see it! As I walked down the back towards the river ovals there was a class playing touch for PE on the ovals. I explained that we are slowly getting back to ‘normal’ during school hours, but outside school time there are many restrictions still in place with music rehearsals, sport training, speech and variety, chess, and the many activities that happen in our busy school.
Regardless of what other schools choose to do with the recommendations, TSS will always support the expert advice from the Gold Coast Unit of Queensland Health. Their support and expert advice have been reassuring for the school during these difficult times. We ask the community to continue to support the recommendations for schools to not enter on to school grounds – even to watch your son train for an activity. We will be updated shortly on advice around community sport and school sport and spectators but until then we will remain conservative and follow the advice provided. We also ask that all tutoring from external companies occur online or in the family home and not on campus at TSS at least for the remainder of the term.
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