Since July this year I have been working at Westlake Boys High School as a DVC teacher. I picked up a selection of Junior and Senior classes part way through their projects and tried to find my place in the school as smoothly as possible. Despite entering a new school and all the disruptions that had been caused by multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, I wanted to give everything I could to my students so that they had the best shot for success.
The classes I had were made up of many different boys, each with their own unique backgrounds and skillsets. In some of my Junior classes there was a great disparity between the most technically adept students and the lowest, but I wanted to create lesson plans and projects that would allow all these students multiple ways of approaching their work. The lockdown proved to be the greatest challenge in this regard, as not all students had access to reliable Internet or computer equipment that allowed for working from home.
With one anonymous survey that I ran on a Year 12 class, most boys cited the lockdown as being the greatest obstacle in their learning from this year. They said that the uncertainty around this period, coupled with practical issues such as a lack of space and access to DVC equipment that was stored at school inhibited their ability to succeed as well as they could have. I felt as though these students produced some fantastic work regardless, but that things could have been a lot more different. From a teaching perspective, my biggest concern was the wellbeing of my students, especially those who went completely MIA and could not be accounted for.
As my role at Westlake was a fixed-term contract, my position at the school concluded at the end of this year on Tuesday 8 December. I was able to learn a lot from these past six months and gain some great friendships and connections. The students and staff of the school have been nothing but supportive in my time here, and this made an otherwise tricky year a very positive one.
I begin a new role in January next year. While I will miss the people and culture that I came to love at Westlake, I see this as another chapter in my teaching practice. Thank you Westlake - I will see you again soon.
While this is often overused, I feel as though the following Maori proverb sums up the most important thing in education and schools:
He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.
Perhaps in time,
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