The Crane, 20 March 2020

Principal’s Message

Dear HIS Community

I hope you have had a good week with your children at home. We miss you all, although we have enjoyed seeing many of you via Zoom. It has been great having our Grade 12 class at school this week. They have been very careful with their handwashing etc and social distancing, so I would like to thank the Gr12 class for being great role models. Our current plan is to bring Grade 11 back next week (23rd-27th March) and aim for a full school start on Monday 30th March.

Thank You, Parents: Thank you again for all the support during this second week of distance learning. I had to check the calendar. It has only been 9 school days so far but strangely feels like it has been longer. I guess that it may have felt even longer for you at home. We have one more week of distance learning coming up and it is what we hope to be the last week, although we will continue to monitor the situation. At the moment it seems we will probably see a return for many schools across Japan after the spring break dependent on advice from MEXT and the local education authorities. This situation, however, is difficult to predict.

A Transition Back to On-Campus School: We understand that our families are in a variety of situations with very different needs and regardless of when we return to school, there may be some families who are reluctant to restart for a while. We also understand that there are families who would be comfortable restarting school at the scheduled time. For this reason, we would like to view the restart of on-campus school as a transition period for a further couple of weeks. Any students who do not come back to school will not be marked absent and can continue to work from home. We feel that it is important to provide families with as much choice as possible considering the uncertainties associated with the current situation.

When we do restart school on Monday 30th March, we will not be running our After Schools Clubs Program. It seems prudent to cancel this second semester of clubs so students can travel directly home after school. We will also cancel the Sports Day due to the uncertainty associated with the coming weeks and months. We would, however, like to hold HIS Idol if at all possible at the very end of the year. We will keep an eye on that.

A Transition Model of Teaching and Learning: This leads us to the model of teaching and learning that we will use. Our normal mode of school is on-campus. We can do this very well, of course, as we have had lots of practice. The new model, which we have been improving on over the last 9-days is distance learning. Both are very intense experiences for the teacher, so a dual model where both approaches run simultaneously is not possible. We would, however, moving back to our regular on-campus teaching and learning model,  use some of the strategies that we have experimented with over the past 9-days to enable us to provide stimulating work and connect with any students who may not return to campus straight away. This would be a hybrid model where selected distance learning strategies are incorporated into our regular on-campus classes. I just wanted to stress that it will not be a continuation of the full distance learning approach due to time constraints (i.e. the teachers will have classes all day) but we are in a better position now to support students remotely using some of the strategies that have worked well for us such as Zoom check-ins. We will be flexible and creative, just like we want our students to be.

What makes a good life?

I thought that you may like to join the 31 million people who have viewed this TED Talk. When asking, ‘What makes a good life?’ it seems that fortunately for me, money and fame may not be the answer. It seems that good relationships keep us happier and healthier. In this sense, this school closure may well make us all live a little longer. Actually, that could be a stretch, however, I love the message of this TED Talk.

Kind regards

Damian Rentoule