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An Insight Into staff training...

Dear Parents,

I don't usually do this but I thought that I would share some of the INSET and training messages that we have shared as a staff team over the past couple of days as 65 teachers have returned to school in these unprecedented times. Joining us online or actually coming into school, it felt very different but wonderful to reconnect!

As I said during the ZOOM calls, all teachers have essentially continued their own learning journeys in the sense of exploring and mastering new platforms and then adapting their detailed schemes of work to fit a new world!

However, I started with the following clip that was very kindly shared by a parent - I suspect that it conveys a certain energy that we are all feeling and it's worth keeping this in your minds as parents as we take a leap into our own unknowns...

I have attached the following slides from our 'whole school meeting' that opened our Friday training day last week. Whilst I could see that 65 colleagues were in a shared space on MS Teams, not being able to read their body language was an entirely and quite disconcerting feeling - something that I know most teachers will find strange as they prepare to welcome you back over this week.

Slide 1 - our agenda

I wanted to start with a story, as context is everything and what we currently face might well feel overwhelming for everyone at this point. The following pictures of technologies and gadgets that at the time promised to revolutionise our teaching lives all have something in common...

Slide 2 - this is a Spirit Bander and it was supposed to revolutionise teaching! Teachers could create a worksheet that could be copied multiple times allowing classes to work around a template - I still remember my father letting me help him copy his A-Level Chemistry sheets during the holidays, it used methylated spirits and if you weren't careful, you could end up a little heady...perhaps that's why I loved helping my father!

Slide 3 - this fine model is the Xerox 4000, that again promised to revolutionise teaching! However, they were so expensive that teachers were rationed in paper. As a student teacher, I remember that we were told that we had to provide our own paper in order not to offend the school hosting us. Years later, as they became cheaper, they were the reason why pupils were swamped with worksheets - often 'holding exercises' that were far from stimulating!

Slide 4 - an amazing invention, a rolling board that allowed a teacher to prepare work for classes later in the day or to refer back to an live brainstorm - you could store 3 lessons on that bad boy and I remember wanting one in my classroom as it was such a chore to draw out diagrams each day that had to be rubbed out!

Slide 5 - the IWB (Interactive White Board) and a leap from the roller board before. However, over time the projector lost calibration and teachers tended to write all over the board sometimes with a permanent marker leaving smudges and a mess!

Slide 6 - the computer and microchip...game changers apparently! Tech was going to literally change the way that we taught as the digital age dawned and this slave would be at our beck and call! We would be able to work faster and more efficiently. I will share a lovely link at bottom of this page that I showed in assembly last term on this very subject - if you have time, it's well worth watching and the speaker, Alan Watts, was ahead of his time!!!

Slide 7 - bringing the world into our classrooms as the internet opened doors and again promised revolutions in every sense! 'Knowledge' suddenly looked a little less important and 'skills' were returning to favour as knowledge and content is so easily accessible on any pocket device. Teachers were told that books and pens will soon be obsolete...

Slide 8 - all of this brings us to remote learning. All I knew about remote learning was a system pioneered in Australia where the flying doctors would deliver books to famers in the remotest places back in the 1960s! Children would learn through joining teachers on a CB radio! But here we are with the wealth of progress from the bander machine to a world wide web...and the perfect chance to show that we have made progress?

With all of these advances, and there have been mind-blowing leaps in such a short space of time, I still believe that the teacher remains at the heart of everything. We learn to read so much from the body language, the faces, the words and the tone of role models around us - teachers being vital in this process. So, I know that we will make the best of this situation as we have an extraordinary team of staff who might feel a little daunted but who will quickly find a way to use the tools to reach your children!

We then shared common concerns and worries - we tried to anticipate issues and problems and to be as ready as possible to find work arounds...

Slide 9 - Teachers' Concerns

These worries and concerns are understandable, and staff will have more personal concerns as well. However, we are a close group who are connected and together we will find ways to manage and address these points...

Slide 10 - Pupils' Concerns

Again, pupils will have these worries and more in their backgrounds that we might have less ability to reach remotely. However, our platforms will be able to put them into more familiar surroundings, putting them in groups with their friends so that they can connect with each other...

Slide 11 - Parents' Concerns

We have the most amazing parents who signed up to something special - 'The Orley Farm Way' and whilst they will be dealing with all manner of personal challenges, they will be able to see the impact of our biggest asset - teachers who care deeply about their children bringing a welcomed 'normality' to their lives...

Slide 12 - My Concerns

I find it remarkable seeing and hearing about the very best in people coming out in big and small stories around us, and yes, in these times we will also see the worst as people peddle fear and criticism from the sidelines. However, I believe in light, love and hope - the only answer to darkness, anger and fear - it's what attracted me to this community and therefore we will make the very best of all of this...

Slide 13 - Solutions

The reason why I share this is that we are in this together in every sense. I do not doubt that we are all bringing our own concerns to the coming weeks and I would simply encourage all members of our community to pause and give this time.
I do not anticipate getting this right on day one but I believe that we have considered as many factors and concerns to ensure that we are facing this with eyes wide open...and who knows what we might learn with this amazing opportunity to start from scratch...?

Enjoy the following clip - it's called 'No Hurry' and how apt?!? Alan Watts was ahead of his time and just perhaps wisdom like his along with lessons learnt today might just help us to plot a healthy happier future...

Welcome to the 2020 Summer Term, I will invite all of you to various review meetings over the coming weeks but for now, all I ask on behalf of your children and our teachers is your patience, grace and willingness to look for the good...The Orley Farm Way!

Tim Calvey