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Well-being at the Centre of Reopening at Dover Court

Simon Mann
Simon Mann (3 posts) Principal View Profile

As the school year is well and truly underway I wanted to take this opportunity to share our plans for how we are working with the three pillars of our community, our parents, our staff and our students.  Here in Singapore we are privileged to welcome our students back onto campus, however, between the limited after school programme, restrictions on group sizes and wearing of masks, all I fully agree with, things have a slightly less connected feel. To recognise our new normal we have placed the well-being of our community at the centre of our opening and approach to the first term. Some of this design is based on the ‘soft-landing’ approach that was used as students returned to school in Christchurch, NZ after the earthquake.

Dover Court International School Simon Mann with students First Day of Term

Students

To begin the year the focus is settling back in, reconnecting, or connecting for new students, and getting back into the idea and feeling of being in school. To support this and as a way of processing the last few months we are running a psycho-social mini project where students of all ages (and staff) explore their Covid-19 experience. They are reflecting on how they got through it; what their supports are; identifying personal development; exploring challenges they faced; and importantly identifying the tools they have developed that will help with their resilience moving forward. This project is designed to promote connection between students and students and teachers; recognise shared experiences - a ‘getting to know you’ process; and collectively develop and 'tool box' of strategies that can be used to overcome challenges. The project is designed specifically to benefit relationships in the classroom particularly with our new students and teachers in mind.

 

Additionally the first few weeks will be spent focusing on returning to school and getting back into learning by easing into the next unit or topic and initially avoiding a focus on what gaps may exist due to the period of distance learning, we know for our students who focus heavily on their progress or grades there may be a greater deal of anxiety around this and our role is to reassure them that it is not as big a deal as they may think. We will be working on the issue of identifying and addressing any gaps in learning later this term. For our Year 13 IB Diploma students the IB Organisation has sensibly decreased the breadth of the syllabus for this academic year which helps a group of students who were probably feeling the most under pressure.

Dover Court International School Lower Primary Girls by Field

Families

Families could easily be the forgotten group and we are particularly aware of new families who often rely on schools to make personal connections, friendships and develop social circles when arriving in a new country. With group size limits discounting the possibility of face to face meetings we recognise there is a real risk of damaging our strong sense of community. This coupled with understandably higher levels of parental anxiety we are focusing on succinct and meaningful communication and online connection. New parent virtual coffee mornings are taking place with small groups to allow interaction with the school and other families who have similar aged children. We are also supporting the Dover Court Association arrange small meetings offsite; having families join us virtually to hear the Covid-19 presentations of their children and their children’s classmates; and delivering well-being workshops for our families looking at how they can help themselves and their children through this period. 

Dover School International School Singapore Drama with Bethany Clarke

Teachers 

Teacher experienced a significantly different inset week. It was stripped back and allowed large blocks of time to re-acclimatise to being back. This included time to reconnect with colleagues, plan in teams and set up classrooms. The principal's welcome for all staff was focused on personal well-being, promoting connection with others and relationship building. We explored simple actionable skills, approaches and attitudes that we can use to support our own well-being. This focus on personal well-being for our staff continues throughout until the Christmas break with regular CPD sessions focused on well-being. We hope this will help over this long term, especially in the knowledge that many, if not all of our staff, have not had a proper holiday. The soft landing for staff continues as we review what is key and most important in the coming months and accepting some of our initiatives may need to be put on hold or slowed in their introduction.

 

We recognise that as we start the year it may not be the normal exciting and energetic beginning to the academic year, however, we do believe we have put together programmes that will make our situation a positive learning experience for our whole community. This is our starting point and we shall be reviewing it as we go along.