This weekend I took the opportunity to film my segment of the final Berwick Grammar School online assembly at Black Rock beach whilst in the area.
It was a wild and windy day – the perfect metaphor for the year that was. Certainly we all experienced seas that were difficult to navigate – and what you might call unexpected storms.
I began my assembly speech by suggesting that each year we say the year that was, was a year like no other. And that this year the cliche it was true – 2020 was certainly a year like no other. Think about all the changes we have undertaken as a community – as we learned about the existence of Coronavirus just before the school year began, and then we realised the power it might have to impact our lives. It became a thing we were all concerned about… but I know even then I never expected to be teaching from home for a large proportion of the year, accepting for the good of us all conditions on our whereabouts and our interactions with that would have appeared a year ago to belong to a science fiction novel. So too would have the wearing of masks and the need to physically distance more than 1.5 metres from the person next to you. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
It was a challenge – but as I am often reminded, challenges bring the most growth. I hope amidst some of the difficulties you have also experienced this year, you find some time to reflect upon what you have learnt and how you have grown. I think if you allow yourself to do this, you will find some things to be grateful for. There is much to acknowledge about the warmth of home and simple pleasures that were returned to us, for example. And many opportunities to learn about our own wellbeing – we each suddenly had to be very conscious of making these restrictions work – and finding new ways of creating harmony and balance – like walking in nature or connecting via Skype, Teams and Facetime. Challenge also brings innovation – another perhaps unexpected flipside of difficulty.
So we learned to manage ourselves better – and I hope our community’s focus on wellbeing in different ways each term assisted. Each theme gave us a particular focus and also a different perspective. For example, when we first went into lockdown, we used the theme of Humour to keep our spirits high. We laughed to lighten the load. We laughed to share with others and explored the humour of the generations before us – hoping that this would stimulate some much needed conversations in isolation.
Then in Term 3 when we had to return to lockdown unexpectedly, it was Purpose that kept us focused on the reasons why we were giving up so much. A sense of purpose helped us to find meaning to these sacrifices – we were working together to beat this virus. This worked so well for us that much is back to normal now in Victoria. Everything has reopened almost to normal capacity and we are needing our masks less and less.
Our final wellbeing theme in Term 4 was Courage and Determination, two attitudes we needed to continue restrictions, and to find new ways of doing traditional end of year activities – and what an end of year it has been. The online Speech Night was a real highlight for me – and I enjoyed the new ways of thinking to make this special – and also the new opportunities to work with the Class of 2020 to farewell them in exciting ways. I loved their videos and their drone footage farewell to the school that had been a part their lives for so many years.
So what will next year bring? I think we have to continue our new pattern learning, reflecting and growing based upon our experiences this year. With this in mind, Term 1’s wellbeing theme across the Senior Schools is Self-Monitoring. We are all going to work on knowing ourselves better to make sure we are as balanced as possible, that we can manage and even thrive in any difficult times ahead. It’s kind of like doing a research project on yourself. What are your triggers? What are your wellbeing boosters? And we are going to use our Skodel Check In Tool to help us track our wellbeing levels. There will be plenty of interesting discussions with this partner ahead – and much self-discovery.
So again, let’s not let go of what we have learnt. We can turn 2020 from a disaster into one of the most powerfully positive lessons if we can build on this.
Photo by Marcus Winkler from Pexels