Issue 40, 18 March 2020
Head of College Update
Well – where to start. As I write this article, I am not sure what to think about the current situation as it impacts on families, individuals and of course schools. I keep reminding myself that God has a plan and I am confident that it will be revealed to us all in the days, months and years ahead. My prayer is for everyone in our community to stay safe and well, tolerant and supportive, neighbourly and understanding, and to live in hope through our risen Lord.
We are now putting as much resource as possible into restructuring our tuition into an on-line mode. For most schools, this is somewhat a position of trial and error, but we must make this work for the benefit of those children and students whose education is our responsibility. While it is unclear as to how long we will remain in this current and uncertain environment, the mode of delivery in the Australian education space will change forever. This is a whole of College imperative, and I thank you for your hard work, initiative and support as education in the new world is rolled out.
Our Emergency Response Team continues to meet and to make decisions around the many matters that surface hourly. On your behalf, I thank them for a level of dedication that goes beyond any role description – the late-night calls, emails and texts are coming thick and fast. We will endeavour to feed information and decisions to you as things change – thank you for your patience and understanding. We have learned many lessons - including the fact that the general public are watching the highlighted box on our website for information about the current position as it exists at Concordia. Thank you to Bianca and Christine for continuing this communication trail that goes beyond the immediate community and into the wider world.
I will finish there – you are hopefully receiving enough information. My reflections are already out beyond the months ahead, and into the time when things return to normal – and they will! Certainly, I am planning a family party for all staff to celebrate the joy of living in this wonderful community. Be kind to each other, watch out for each other, and stay safe.
Every blessing and kind regards,
Need to know!
There is now a dedicated page on the College's website for parents in relation to Novel Coronavirus. Parents are also being informed via email, the College app, and Facebook.
All staff communications will be provided via email and forums/meetings as needed. In the event of an unexpected school closure, there is the capacity to SMS all staff through TASS.
If you have an interest in purchasing a long sleeved version of the staff polo shirt (ideal for cooler weather or sun protection) please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If there is enough interest to meet minimum order quantities, a one-off order will be placed with the supplier.
The following College procedures have been updated. Please read and familiarise yourself with the requirements, as they relate to your role at the College.
A further welcome to Lindsay Bovill, who has taken up the role of interim Business Manager until such time as we are in a position to advertise and make a permanent appointment to this important role.
Karen Watson (SSC) has made significant and valued contributions over the last 18 months to many aspects of TASS, as well as timetabling, reporting and the LMS; and in light of these additional responsibilities, Karen's role has been re-titled to Student Services Coordinator.
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Escape for a moment...
Cat videos are apparently the most watched items on YouTube due to their calming properties - over two million have been uploaded, which collectively, have been watched more than 25 billion times! We are all being urged to remain calm and sensible in our response to the current situation, unlike this cat…
Plans are being enacted to utilise Seesaw (Junior College) and MS Teams (Middle and Senior College) for online student learning should classroom teaching be suspended. MS Teams will also be utilised by staff teams to maintain efficient communication with staff who may be unable to attend work. The College's Emergency Management Team (EMT) is already using this platform successfully for their collaboration and communication.
Many staff are already familiar with MS teams, and also attended the PD session at the start of this year. If you would like further tuition, Karen Rohde, Gabe Robbie, Heidi Edwards, Isaac Heuschele and Paul Baker can be of support to you, and Microsoft has a suite of free tutorial videos as well.
Daniel and Mitch have also put together some MS Teams 'how to' guides which are available from Teacher Kiosk > Links > IT Resources and can also be contacted for one on one support.
On April 6, TASS is releasing Version 52 and it brings some exciting new features and functionality of which you can see an overview below.
The College embraces the philosophy of restorative practices as a key process to build harmonious relationships and resolve issues of concern or conflict, openly and respectfully. Restorative principles are used with students, staff and parents and encourage a culture of listening, personal awareness and responsibility. This is detailed in the College's Respectful Relationships Policy.
In the busyness of work and life, it is easy to forget how simple and effective these practices can be, so here is a quick reminder.
Feedback through Staff Pulse
A huge thank you to the staff who have been participating in the staff pulse surveys through the TES for schools platform. Here is a snapshot of our areas of strength and areas for improvement.
Ironically, the consistent feedback from the last 3 surveys is the 'lack of feedback' that staff are receiving. New tools and templates to assist staff and their supervisors to engage in meaningful feedback are in progress and will be released shortly.
The survey platform has a feature to initiate conversations in response to a comment or suggestion and you are encouraged to engage in this process, as you do remain anonymous. Some staff have been willing to identify themselves, and some productive meetings have already been held and changes both considered and actioned.
The survey questions are issued at random and are predominately generic to all positions, however if you do receive a question that you feel you can't accurately provide feedback on, at the bottom of each question there is a 'Skip this question' button.
There are still several staff who are yet to register for the survey. Please follow the instructions in the email from TES. If you haven't received this email, please contact Mel.
Who was I?
Who auditioned for the Royal Ballet; by her own admission, can't bake; raised 3 children; enjoys yoga, the gym (when she isn't falling off the treadmill), reading and sewing; is inspired by her parents; plans to use a computer (properly); will pass her driving test; and has sung in a concert in front of thousands, sung on a radio advert, and also providing backing vocals for a record with her photo on the cover/sleeve?
Emma Owen, HSC Teacher Aide
Who am I?
I was born...in Cairns
My favourite childhood TV show was...Hogan's Heroes
I have memorised...the Auslan alphabet
I have met...the Bondi Lifeguards (memorable!)
My favourite book is...The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
I am currently reading...Rebel Minds, by Susan Rosenthal
The Queensland Department of Education has shared with ISQ, a link to an extensive list of open source/free online educational resources that they have sent to all state schools.
In preparedness for the possibility of online learning, you are encouraged to view the resources available.
Please note the following:
- The list of resources has been compiled by a third party – Amazing Educational Resources
- The list is very long with no filter capacity
- The first person reference is to someone from Amazing Educational Resources who has compiled this list
- ISQ has had no input into the list of resources and I would strongly encourage you to ‘vet’ any sources before referring them on to students
The link to the resources is here: http://amazingeducationalresources.com/
Harmony Day/Week in the SSC Library
The library has been celebrating Harmony day/week by showcasing books written by Australians of diverse backgrounds. We have also been inviting students and staff members up to the library to create their own orange accessory! You can made your very own orange butterfly broach or bow tie or hair accessory.
After some head scratching, I have decided that all teacher resources that are department specific will be categorised according to their subject area, rather than their location. That way if a teacher moves staff rooms, we do not have to re-catalogue all of their resources, which has not happened in the past.
What this means for you:
- All of the departmental resources in your care will be checked out in your name and will be due for review in 2025. If you have received a new resource in the last month, you may already be aware of this. If you are passing a resource on, please let us know so we can re-allocate the resource.
- At some stage in the next year (or 2 years?) we will come to your department and make a list of all the books that are still there (or at your house). Any that are not there will be removed from the catalogue (if they do turn up they can be easily reinstated).
A big thanks to Glenda who has worked hard to consolidate collections and move data around in the database. If you see her screaming in a bin, that is probably why!
We are working hard in the Junior Campus libraries to get as many books face out as possible! Not only does it make the library look fantastic, it also encourages students to engage with books and more likely to read them.
Junior Campus library MS team
I am in the process of putting together a library team for the junior campuses. This opt-in team will be a portal for me to share what is happening in the library, share articles, information about activities and new books and resources. Keep an eye out for emails about this in the coming weeks.
Heidi Edwards, Teacher Librarian
Concordia in the News
Toowoomba couple tie the knot in first ever KFC wedding (not specifically Concordia, however Kate is a past student and her mum, Carlie, and her brother Jamie are both past staff members).
Education in the News
How Do You Know They’ve Learned It? [Case Study: Quirindi High School, NSW], Corwin
Behaviour Management: Effects of teacher praise and reprimands, Teacher Magazine
🕑 16 minutes listening (thank you to Carissa Jaworska for highlighting this resource)
Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan has announced new laws that enable a more accurate estimation of the capacity of families to contribute to the cost of sending their children to a non-government school. Non-government school sectors will have until 2029 to fully transition to the direct measure of income method. The minister claims that the more targeted and accurate direct measure of income will make school funding more equitable by ensuring more funding flows to the schools that need it most. He also announced resources to assist schools in the transition. LEQ will continue to work with schools and provide advice around these changes. Details can be found in the full media release here.
Support through the International Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak
Over the past couple of decades, we have experienced a number of diseases that have received global attention, including SARS, swine flu, equine flu, Influenza A and now the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Although these outbreaks have become part of life, it is common to feel fear when we are told that a virus is deadly. Our brains can sometimes feel scrambled as we try and make sense of a situation that doesn’t actually feel or appear normal.
At AccessEAP, our clinical team have put together some tips to help you support your people to deal with the anxiety they may be experiencing.
Tip 1. Resist the urge to inflate the risk. Inflating risk is part of our fight or flight stress response and is our brain’s way of trying to keep us safe. When you think about it - it makes a lot of sense. When a situation is big and overwhelming, it gets our attention and forces us to act. Clinicians call this catastrophising. But if we reduce the inflation of the risk, we can start to look at the facts which may tell us that this virus is deadly, but there is a similar risk that the garden variety flu may have on us. This means that the common flu may just be as harmful as Covid-19 and the ability to frame how to cope with this new anxiety might require the same skills and approach we use to cope with other everyday events that also come with risk.
Tip 2. Take common-sense precautions. We are all aware of what everyday health precautions are. However, we are not always good at following them closely and consistently. Both the flu and Coronavirus are spread through touch, saliva or a sneeze/cough. As advised by WHO and the Department of Health if you are unwell, consider ways you can reduce spreading the virus to others. If you have symptoms, book yourself in to see a GP at your earliest convenience. Hand hygiene is important – remember to sing your favourite song’s chorus (twice) as you wash your hands under soapy water, particularly before eating. If you are unable to get to a sink, you can always carry hand sanitizer. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and use a tissue.
Tip 3. Look after yourself. Basic health habits like frequent exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, focusing on your stress management and adequate sleep are generally believed to increase immunity and reduce the risk of contracting the illness and can shorten the severity and duration of symptoms. These are good wellbeing habits to develop.
Tip 4. Avoid or minimise watching sensationalised media about the virus outbreak. The more that you watch these types of stories, the more you will think about it, which will increase feelings of anxiety. Be wary about where you get your news from in times such as this. Visit a website that is known to be credible and bases its information on research (an example would be the Australian Government’s advice.
Tip 5. Finally, look at how you have coped in the past. Clinician’s believe that no matter what the focus of your anxiety is, using what you have done in the past to help manage those feelings will help. This could mean engaging in less black and white thinking, meditation, positive self-talk, de-escalating the irrational fears with fact-based responses or listening to music when the stress rises. It could also mean talking to a trusted friend about your current feelings or perhaps engaging a professional at AccessEAP to talk it through.
Doing whatever works to help relieve your stress and reduce your anxiety will create a sense of coping. We encourage you to practice the skills that work for you in times like this when you feel like the stress of this virus outbreak is getting to you. Remember, outbreaks like this do occur from time to time throughout the world. It’s normal. Learning to live within an uncertain world is a skill that we can all learn (and relearn if necessary).
Welcome to Awkward Moments Day!
Awkward moments happen all the time, and to some of us more than others! For anyone who’s ever wished the ground would open up and swallow them, Awkward Moments Day is a celebration of all awkward moments. From walking out of a toilet with paper on a shoe, to realising you’ve been speaking to someone everyday for a year, and don’t know their name - life is full of these moments.
So, if anything awkward happens today, be sure to see the humour of the situation, and have a good laugh about it, before moving on to the next one!
In an attempt to simplify communication methods, if you have non-urgent messages or communications to staff groups, please email them to email@example.com for inclusion in Heads Up.