Returning to School II – Shelley Shares Her Journey from AU

“The numbers probably wouldn’t seem huge to you, as numbers of new cases in the US are phenomenal, but they have been more than enough to scare the hell out of everybody here and the Victorian State Government to lock us back down for 6 weeks.”

Shelley Menhennet, Elementary Art Teacher, Victoria, Australia

Shelley Menhennet has been a long-time Hexagon Project participant.  She teaches Pre-K – Grade 6 at very diverse elementary school, Cambridge Primary School at Hopper’s Crossing, Victoria, Australia.  Over the past few weeks, she has shared her experiences going back to school in the Fall [June for them] and now, due to increased Covid-19 cases, another lock-down in winter! Below is her report on going through this process. Their government is much more “hands-on” prevention and it may be instructional to read about her experiences.  She has a very strong art program and teachers have been given time to plan together to integrate curriculum. Is there anything you can glean from this for use in your own school? Perhaps.  Read on!

She has a Classroom Blog which you can access here: http://thebackartroom.global2.vic.edu.au/2020/05/21/grade-3-week-7-remote-learning-2020/

July 9,2020.

Hi Beth,

I sort of feel like I need to write an update for the hexagon website, especially as things have gone berserk here and we are now back in lockdown.

The whole of metropolitan Melbourne, 5 million people, have recommenced lockdown as of today, as we have had huge numbers of new infections over the past week or so. The numbers probably wouldn’t seem huge to you, as numbers of new cases in the US are phenomenal, but they have been more than enough to scare the hell out of everybody here and the Victorian State Government to lock us back down for 6 weeks. Country Victoria has very few cases, some areas, none at all, which is why the government has just locked down metro Melb and only one country shire. All other states in Australia have closed their borders to us, which hasn’t happened in more than a hundred years, since the Spanish Flu pandemic!

In Victoria, our mid year school holidays of two weeks ends this weekend. The Victorian State Government has ordered ALL teachers back to school on Monday but only year 11 and 12 students have to go back , as well as all students that attend Specialist Schools (students with high level special needs).  My daughter Georgia, in year 11, is so happy to be going back to school as she did not cope well with remote learning last time. All Prep to year 10 students have been given an extra week’s holiday, which, I believe, will be for teachers to plan for going back to remote learning, although that hasn’t been announced yet. This is just for Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire. Schools in Country Victoria will just go back on Monday as normal.

Our local government area (yes, we are over governed but that is another story) is called the city of Wyndham. This includes Wyndhamvale, where I live and Hoppers Crossing, where Cambridge Primary School is, which is about 20 minutes drive away from my home. The City of Wyndham, nearby my school, has one of the largest outbreaks in the whole state, interestingly based at a non-government, private school, with well over 100 cases of students and teachers diagnosed over the last week, even though it is the school holidays!

Going back to school on Monday, without students, to a week full of Webex meetings and planning, was not the start of Term 3 I was looking forward to. I was obviously kidding myself as I was looking forward to perhaps an almost normal term 3.

Reshmi8 Gr 4 “Dream”

Remote teaching year 3, 4, 5 and 6 students in our last lockdown was demanding, stressful and utterly exhausting and then we had 5 weeks of term 2 back at school together. It was a very weird 5 weeks of yard duty upon yard duty, two timetables running throughout the school, 40 minute sessions for some grades, 55 minute sessions for others and some had 60 minutes,  two lunchtimes and two recesses and me perpetually wondering which timetable I was in and where I should be! I seriously wrote daily lists to help me stay on top of what I was doing and where I was supposed to be and I still got it wrong! I don’t think I have ever been as exhausted as I was after remote learning and then those 5 crazy weeks back together, and I was well and truly ready for my 2 weeks holidays to try to reset myself for term 3.  And now, three days out from the start of term 3, apart from the first week of meetings and planning, the rest of the term is still unknown.  I know, as teachers,  especially art teachers, we are flexible, strong and resilient, but, bloody hell,  I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed, before I even get there on Monday.

So, I have decided that from now, until I arrive at school on Monday, for my own mental health, these last precious few days, although technically in lockdown, ARE MINE, and I will not be thinking about anything to do with school until I get there!

Although I will put a post on my blog with links to some drawing videos for all my students as they are at home for at least another week of holidays and some may need to hear from me and have something new to do as their holidays roll on a little longer!!!

Take care and WASH YOUR HANDS!

Shell

“The affect on our mental health by going back into lockdown again cannot be underestimated as over the last 5 days I have worked in a double classroom with 6 other specialist teachers (PE/Science/Italian/Digi Tech) social distancing across the large room.”

Shelley, 7-17-20
Kethan27 Gr. 5 “We depend on our Frontline Heroes”

July 17, 2020

I think I am a little delirious today as I am so pleased it’s Saturday and I am not at school. It has been amazing to have the last 5 days at school to plan and get ready for remote teaching again next week but it has been so intense. The affect on our mental health by going back into lockdown again cannot be underestimated as over the last 5 days I have worked in a double classroom with 6 other specialist teachers (PE/Science/Italian/Digi Tech) social distancing across the large room. During that 5 days as we have worked together to get ready 5 of us have had total meltdowns for one reason or another, some sobbing and crying or running out of the room. We are all more fragile than ever, worried about our own families, etc, etc and for example I have been trying to learn how to use 3 different platforms ( seesaw/class dojo/Edmodo) that the classroom teachers are using as the access point for those families to get to my blog. The amount of work we have done rejigging curriculum, learning new platforms, writing up protocols, creating work logs and checklists, videoing lesson content, cross linking our content across several curriculum areas to create rich submission tasks so the students are only having to submit one piece of work which will then be assessed across 3 or 4 curriculum areas and I could go on and on, is nothing short of phenomenal!

Shell

Cambridge Primary School 

Carruthers Drive

Hoppers Crossing VIC 3029

Ph 97489011

Outer West Visual Art Teachers Network