Weathering the Storm of Off-Campus Learning

Mrs Alma Loreaux | Dean of Learning | Grammar News | 6 August 2021

It was towards the end of Term 1 when we launched into the Off-Campus Learning mode last year. To use the ocean as the metaphor, whilst the storm was approaching and the currents shifted us from learning at School to learning from our homes, we could almost see the sun shining through the clouds. The video conferencing was over in a couple of weeks and we could enjoy a restful holiday break. This time, we find ourselves in the storm again. Yet, our experience is vastly different. Starting the term in Off-Campus mode after having already been in the Greater Sydney lockdown did not present the same kind of hope we felt last year.


What has additionally been highlighted is that whilst we might be in the same storm, we are all weathering the storm in our different boats. Yes, I have always felt that the expression “we are all in the same boat” does not quite work; particularly not for our Year 12 students who are nearing one of the significant markers in their educational journey.


We know that our students, teachers and parents are resilient. This is part of our St Luke’s DNA; our capacities to persevere, manage distractions, notice what to do in unforeseen circumstances, be absorbed at the task that matters most. In this storm, we have naturally leaned into these strengths, and are now more than ever seeing the need to connect with one another, to collaborate, find ways to be interdependent (lean on each other and achieve on our own), to imitate good actions by others, to empathise and really listen to each other. From our different boats, we can support one another and throw the life jacket over if needed.


How do we weather the storm together when we are already feeling the impact of this lengthy lockdown and the ongoing uncertainty?


My Year 11 class has brought such joy to my teaching and in the midst of the many juggling acts (figuratively speaking) their collaborative energy and dialogue has been the highlight of each of my days over the past three weeks. During our Zooms, we actively practise gratitude. One person starts off by sharing something they are thankful for, and they call onto someone else in the lesson to continue. This is completely optional, yet each of us takes part, and what I have noticed on every occasion is the uplifted mood and bigger smiles on their faces. 


Perhaps you might think it is a little too simple, or superficial as a gesture to simply practise being thankful. How could something like a daily expression of gratitude solve such an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion and lockdown fatigue? It is however through these seemingly small steps that we can help our young people build sustained, good habits.