Covid 19 and Home Learning Updates

All your Covid-19 and home-learning updates and resources in one place


Updates from the Principal

Update 31 March 2020

Dear Aurora Parents and Friends,

I would like to reiterate my thanks to you for supporting the school and each other through recent events. Everybody is doing what they can to make the new arrangements work for their families and the school community. This balancing act has been a constant challenge to all of us in recent times.

Home-learning update
The school has been doing a trial home-learning program in preparation for next term. The program will be more refined and comprehensive with an emphasis on the central tenets of Steiner education and in keeping with our school ethos such as: healthy relationships – truth, beauty and goodness, working with the stages in development of the human being, connection to nature, acknowledging the spiritual dimension of children and reverence for them as individuals, holistic education - head, heart, hands. As well as our own reflections, discussion and intuition as educators, we have consulted widely with Australian Steiner schools and international pedagogical Steiner/Waldorf experts on ways to create a new, healthy program using the technology we have available in an appropriate way.

Why are we breaking for holidays early when we are providing a home-learning program?
Whilst the school remains open for students, we are required to offer an on-site program, which we have done. This is becoming increasingly difficult to provide staff as the school also operates under WHS regulations to protect staff and families from spread of infection. If they have cold or flu-like symptoms, they must stay off-site. If they have vulnerable family members at home, they must stay off-site. Each school has been left to their own devices as to how to manage these conflicting legal requirements. Most importantly, we have moral imperatives to look after staff as well the whole school community.
To balance these responsibilities, we have made the decision for primary and middle school students to finish their school term one week early on Wednesday 1st April, and three days early for kindergarten students on Friday 3rd April. The teaching staff will then have an opportunity to work on home-learning program development for next term and beyond. Annabel and Aunty Rachel will also be providing a holiday package for all students and an optional ongoing daily connection.

There will be continuing communication between the school office and the school community throughout the holidays. The office phone number 0248622300 and my email principal@aurorasteiner.nsw.edu.au will be responded to. There will be a newsletter coming out next week as well as other written communication over the holidays when applicable.

I hope you enjoy the Autumn Harvest Festival on Friday and wish you rest and moments of joy and transcendence in your time with your family over the holidays.

With heart,
James

Update 26 March 2020

Update for Aurora Parents and Carers

Any positives?
The first Waldorf/Steiner school was born in 1919 at the height of the last great pandemic, the Spanish Flu, which took 50,000,000 lives. It was at this time that a new way of educating students and a rich, wholistic philosophical impulse took shape. More broadly, innovation thrived. Great novels were written and there were great artistic and medical breakthroughs. 100 years later, we are living in unprecedented uncertainty and a bleak health and economic outlook for many. However, it is also an opportunity for growth and creativity in many ways. We have had feedback from parents about the joyful and nourishing family interactions and home projects that are being undertaken and innovative connection strategies being employed. We have the potential to make a real difference in our little Aurora community and make the whole world a better place.

Home-learning
The staff have been working with passion on creating a comprehensive home-learning program in Term 2 appropriate to each age group. With everything happening so quickly, teachers have been trialling some ideas for what might or might not work next term. There will be changes to improve the programs having already experienced some pitfalls and successes. Thank you to those parents who have given feedback; we know you have been caught on the hop with this too and have adapted so well and supported our efforts. We are working on the assumption that in Term 2 students will be at home learning. Each teacher will communicate their program to their classes.

Below are a few tips to remember when assisting with students’ home-learning (adults and children!). Lisa has pointed out that, especially in this time, we are wanting to build resilience, immunity and healthy bodies generally.

1. Spend twice as much time outdoors or engaged in artistic and practical activities as you do inside on screens and/or at a desk on academic tasks.

2. Developmental phases
a. Early childhood (0-7) Hands. The main focus is physical development through play
and purposeful domestic tasks. Theme: ‘The world is good’
b. Primary and middle school years (7-14) Heart. The main focus is on the
development of feeling life through artistic activity. As much as possible, academic skill development is learned through the arts (storytelling, visual arts, music (especially singing), poetry. Theme: ‘The world is beautiful’

3. Suggested rhythm of an ‘at-home’ learning day in Term 2.
- Morning – check-in with class, main lesson and academic tasks
- Morning tea
- Creative and practical tasks such as individual projects and helping around the house
- Lunch
- Outdoor play, PE and/or artistic activities

Structural developments in teaching staff
A feature of the way our staff works at Aurora is our collaborative practice. In the past, we have operated as a whole group with the direct supervision of the teaching and learning and curriculum development largely led by me. This is too big a job for me now. Jeddah is our new Head of Teaching and Learning and is leading our curriculum development. As we’ve grown we’ve needed to establish teams for each section of the school. This has been formalised recently, especially with the implementation of a home learning program. Along with the establishment of these teams has been a mentoring program, especially for new staff.

Financial matters
Fortunately, the school is in a solid financial position and our projections are healthy. With current enrolment numbers we will be able to ride out a recession with some re-prioritising of our spending. We will retain our current staff with current allocated loads. For many of you, your own financial security is not so assured. If you are feeling insecure about your capacity to pay fees next term, please contact Melissa, our Business Manager, and she will arrange for fee relief for Term 2 with an easy process. This process will remain open for the next two terms at least as we realise that things may change for individual circumstances in the coming months.

End of term arrangements
We have decided that the end of term will be brought forward to ​Wednesday 1s​t​ April for Primary and Middle School​ and ​Friday 3r​d​ April for Kindergarten​. There will be an at-home Autumn Harvest Festival on Friday 3r​d​ April coordinated by Annabel so stay tuned for updates and instructions.
The Term 2 home learning program will start on Wednesday 29t​h​ April. The staff will be busy in the holidays developing a high-quality home learning program for Term 2.

Holidays
For those wanting to continue with connection and rhythm during the holidays Aunty Rachel, Annabel Brown and Rochelle Hairs will be running an optional at-home Ngununggula holiday program. More details to come.

Thank you
The last few months have been a very challenging time for our whole school community. However, we continue to show kindness, love, creativity and moments of joy in the face of adversity. I believe we can do great things in the coming months. Please continue to support each other.

This verse by Rudolf Steiner might help us gather our strength:
Quiet I bear within me
I bear within myself
Forces to make me strong
Now will I be imbued
With their glowing warmth
Now will I fill myself
With my own will's resolve
And I will feel the quiet
Pouring through all my being
When, by my steadfast striving
I become strong
To find within myself
The source of strength
The strength of inner quiet

With heart,
James