A message from the Girls’ School Principal, Ms Juliet Small.
I recently read an article where a social entrepreneur related how the pandemic had caused their business not to pivot but to pirouette. This deeply resonated with how our Girls’ School approached the whirlwind of uncertainties from prolonged lockdown, that have blown our way in recent months.
Performing Pirouettes, while seen simply as continuous twirls, is as much technique as it is agility. The discipline mirrors our mindset to learning at the Girls’ School especially in recent months where we have had to balance structure and routine while keeping engagement high and students upbeat.
Learning, and therefore teaching, in Covid times has meant that we have to take more than just one turn. It has been an iterative process and our teachers have stepped up to it. Being able to think differently has paved the way for new approaches and the variety of learning experiences that followed were exponential; from sewing leaves to using shoes to work out the Pythagoras theorem. Our girls have been challenged to think critically, be practical in leveraging on possibilities while taking the opportunity to be relevant and to contribute.
Over the course of the last two Terms, our senior girls have learned to create videos in conjunction with Maori Language Week and leveraged advanced tools such as ‘Thinglink’ to present their inquiry. Our Middle School girls worked collaboratively to explore their surroundings, understand challenges and to find solutions for traffic on Shore Road, design community parks and even envision a sustainable island free of Covid. Our juniors were kept busy utilising ‘Seesaw’ to upload video and pictures of their work so the teachers could give feedback about their learning.
These adaptive learning experiences have allowed us to maintain the growth and development of the girls, and ensure students are continuously motivated through meaningful participation, with teachers closely monitoring and following up with individuals at all times.
While distance learning has encouraged our girls to be even more independent, resilient, and solutions-driven, it has also presented an opportunity for our Senior girls to demonstrate leadership. I am especially impressed by their enthusiasm to take initiative and drive engagement at our student-led house meetings and online assemblies, and not forgetting their active contribution to ideas for our new Shore Road Girls’ School.
It is also interesting to observe our digital natives thrive during distance learning, using tools that are second nature to them and fascinating to see their adaptability to transition from online to onsite learning as the two worlds blend in naturally to them. Our 5-year-old new entrants to the school eased into onsite learning having been familiar with teachers and friends they had met in their online classes. It is clear we are all embracing a shift in learning.
For a year that has again been limited by lockdown, I am delighted to see how well we have tracked on academic, cultural, sports and service achievements. The girls received high distinction and distinction passes for ICAS across Science, Maths, English and Digital Technologies, numerous victories in sports through interschool matches and regionals, and three girls received Gold for service over lockdown. However, my biggest pride is the demonstration of maturity and exemplary behaviour by our girls, which I believe stems from our Saint Kentigern values.
So while the adversities that came with Covid have been challenging, the determination of our teachers and the enthusiasm of our girls have provided us with opportunities to take leaps forward despite the circumstances that have become our reality. As we continue to perfect our ‘pirouettes’, I feel confident we are prepared for 2022. We are ready to shine!
Fides Servanda Est
Ms Juliet Small
Girls’ School Principal