Week Ahead

Educating for the Future

24 February 2020
From the Master Julian Jeffrey
Dear Parents There are many things that go to make up a memorable teacher. Compassion, expertise, patience and the ability to work with children so that they feel empowered to grow as individuals as well as learners seem to me to be some of the key ingredients. The list of factors is endless, though, and I am sure that each of you has your own memories of wonderful (and perhaps even not-so-wonderful) teachers from your own childhood. There is one thing more I would add to my list of qualities for great teachers, and that is the willingness to learn along with their pupils. Adults who recognise the need to adapt and change, to keep pace with developments in their chosen field, are invariably those who stand out from the crowd. I remember well the introduction of computerisation in the Stock Market of the City of London in the mid-1980s. My uncle worked in a bank there and was shattered by the new ways of working. He could not adapt to the changes and took early retirement rather than suffer more misery at work. He was not alone, as thousands of established bankers, traders, brokers and others left their jobs within 12 months. The reliance on e-learning over the past couple of weeks is not as seismic a shift in work behaviour as that faced by those in the City of London in the 1980s - all teachers are familiar with computers and classroom technology these days, after all - but I am sure you recognise the challenges it has created for them. The limitations of internet bandwidth; the difficulties of communicating with groups of children, often scattered to the four corners of the earth; and a recognition that it is not always easy for parents to act as substitute teachers. These are all obvious challenges that need to be overcome. In this context, I have seen colleagues adapt and grow as practitioners, almost on a daily basis. They have embraced new ways of communicating, responding quickly and openly to feedback from pupils and parents. Colleagues in all parts of the school have shown a capacity for personal and professional development that belies the short time we have been conducting online learning. I do not deny that there have been some challenges, but every time we have been alerted to an issue, colleagues have sought out ways to overcome them. It may not quite represent a full revolution in the art of teaching, but I recognise clear forces of change in the way we foster learning, forces that will have a lasting impact on the education of your child. As a community, we are committed to learning the lessons from this difficult time. It is a time to embrace the spirit of innovation and reflection in teaching we see around us and I am wholly confident that it will make us into a stronger school as a result. It may not always feel like it at the moment, but in time, pupils, parents and staff will all be the richer for having experienced these few weeks of genuinely collaborative teaching and learning. As ever, I am here to answer your questions and concerns, so please do not hesitate to send me an email (julian.jeffrey@wellingtoncollege.cn). I look forward to hearing from you.   Best wishes Julian Jeffrey MASTER FROM THE HEAD OF JUNIOR SCHOOL   It seems like months have passed when in reality, it has been mere days and weeks since our Junior School academic team realized that we were not going to be able to deliver a face-to-face lessons to our wonderful pupils, and that we were challenged with delivering an online learning experience. If we now fast forward to the coming week, we have managed to set up virtual teams for all the year groups, moved from uploading documents to a file structure to using assignments; supplemented written instructions with audio and video guidance; and have now begun to move to live sessions where teachers and pupils can interact with each other and have a really engaging interactive experience. It is absolutely amazing how the wider Wellington team has come together through physical activities being set across the school - singing, dancing, reading, juggling and even an online virtual art gallery! Central to the success has been the way that parents have taken on the role of co-educators and tutors to their children. It has not been an easy task, as not only have they needed to support the academic programmes that have been set, but also deal with a number of minor technical and logistical issues. The results have been fantastic, however, with pupils engaged in a wide variety of creative, academic and challenging activities. Parents all have my deepest respect and admiration. I firmly believe that this experience will benefit our pupils in to continuing to develop as lifelong independent learners, something that is needed not just in the Junior and Senior School, but beyond in world of higher education and the workplace. FROM THE HEAD OF EARLY YEARS Home Learning Tips   Not long ago, I had ventured into the world of home learning as I decided to homeschool my two older children when they were young. Having just given birth to our third child, the prospect of early mornings and carpools was difficult for me to fathom. I also wanted our older children to enjoy their new sibling and strengthen our family connections. Whether by choice or special circumstances, a trained educator or not, I have found the following helpful tips to make home learning meaningful and effective:
  • Remember that you are a facilitator of your child’s learning.  Make the time enjoyable and avoid stress. Find a balance between adult-led and independent activity. Many times, you will be learning something new along with your child.
  • Use a variety of activities and limit screen time whenever possible. A good range of activities for the day may include hands-on exercises; setting up and tidying; some screen time as appropriate; music; exercise; and lots and lots of reading. As a reference, research suggests that a child’s average attention span is:
2 years old - 7 minutes 3-year-olds - 9 minutes 4-year-olds - 8-15 minutes 5-year-olds - 10-20 minutes 6-years olds - 12–25 minutes
    • Designate an area for learning and keep it tidy and clean. A small table with a chair in a quiet area is suitable - bear in mind that it is difficult for children to concentrate if there are too many distractions.
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  • Establish a routine. That is, school begins at 8:00 a.m. and at that time they must be dressed (teeth brushed, hair combed) and ready to start the day. This will also help children to settle back into a routine once Nest reopens.
  • Life and character skills. The beauty of home learning is that as parents, you have a direct impact on what skills you want your children to learn. Self-help skills such as dressing up, feeding and hygiene are just a few crucial life skills to learn. You can also teach values that are important to you and your family and it becomes more meaningful as you model it to your children.
One of the best things about learning with my children at home was that I have discovered things about them as a teacher otherwise invisible to me as a mum.  I found that when my son pauses, it was not that he did not know the answer, but that he had more questions he needed to ask in order to gain more understanding or push his learning further. Or when my daughter gets disappointed, I am there to reassure her that it will be fine and that she can learn from her mistakes.

Home learning can be challenging at times but not impossible. It may be one of the most cherished moments your children will remember.

FROM THE HEAD OF ART DEPARTMENT Online Wellington Art Gallery   As the unique circumstances of our schooling continue, teachers have been finding new ways of reaching out and supporting our young Wellingtonians. Lessons and the whole school community have moved online and so have other aspects of our usual school life including the display of artwork. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to create high-quality work when isolated from classmates, so this week sees the launch of our new Team: the online Wellington Art Gallery. Outstanding examples of drawing and painting from Senior School Art classes are selected for the virtual exhibition and Junior School pupils are also invited to contribute their works. Junior School pupils who are interested can access the 'Get Creative' folder of activities which can be easily completed at home with paper, pen and pencils. Pupils can select an activity, complete it at home then send it to their teacher who will then submit the best examples to the online gallery. The creative activities will be refreshed every week so there will be plenty of opportunities to exercise any latent talent! To access the ‘Get Creative’ folder please go to the ‘Junior School Assembly’ Team now re-named ‘Junior School Projects’. Go to the channel on the left side of the screen which says ‘JS Art Gallery’. There you will find the ‘Get Creative’ folder. Happy drawing!