Mary-Jo Hill

05 Mar 2021
How on earth did we really manage that? Time for a cup of coffee and a moment to celebrate that we all made it through homeschooling, with a tune to lose ourselves in, and a dance around the kitchen.

The temptation is to think that the hardest part is over, but that may well not be the case. Nerves of returning to school will be real for many staff, parents and students but it is the last (unofficial day) of homeschooling. Yes. Okay, I still have one at home until the middle of next week but it certainly feels like we are almost there.

So, let’s leave Dolly behind, take a moment for switching on the kettle and take a moment to remind ourselves of this Daft Punk number. A low key, middle of the day imagination of the party moves that we would be making in the olden days. The good vibe of teachers who are glad to be back in the classroom. The students excited to see their friends. It’s worth watching just to realise that John Travolta has mastered two iconic dance moves, decades apart.

Starting again

It is important to hold onto a few things for the next few weeks. One of the most impactful factors in children’s education is the teacher/student relationship with a .72 significance or effect size. After years of extensive research on student learning, Dr John Hattie found that the relationships teachers share with their students have a greater effect on their academic growth than socio-economic status, professional development, class size, or any type of special programs. It was not that these other things were not important, but that the teacher-student relationship had more impact on students’ learning outcomes.

There are many mandates that are beyond our control in education – things we cannot change, and great challenges ahead for secondary colleagues in particular, with students wearing masks – but teachers can be ‘change agents’ when we develop relationships that truly count. I know that schools and teachers will be holding this in high regard for the next three weeks. And as much as we know that attainment has dropped through this period, and announcements of additional funding for ‘Catch Up’, there is clear evidence that homework and summer school really has little significance on their educational attainment. So, what can we hope for? Children motivated to get up in the morning, get dressed, have breakfast and skip into school. Let’s focus on that, at least for a fortnight.

Meanwhile, this long period of homeschooling would not have been possible without the real fact that friends keep us going in periods of challenge. And the collective effort of course.