Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck”

Dalai Lama

I would like to take this opportunity to once again officially welcome everyone to the 2020-21 school year. I hope that all of our students, those who are returning to a familiar environment and those who are new and still adjusting to what it means to be part Lancaster School (like me!), have had an excellent and motivational first two weeks of classes and that routines are coming together as we once again habituate ourselves to the combination of school and home.

As I sat down to write this first Newsletter, as the new Director, I found myself with the same mixture of emotions that I imagine the majority of you are also feeling. I am, first and foremost, excited and eager to get to grips with new challenges. I am enjoying very much meeting the different members of the community with whom I have been lucky enough to converse during the last fourteen days. On the other hand, I find myself intensely frustrated and disappointed with the circumstances in which these initial steps are being taken.

As such, I have been reminding myself (and, I hope, others) of the very real advantages and opportunities offered by the online learning format and the ways in which we can optimize the learning of students by taking advantage of the lemons that life has presented us with.

Firstly, flexibility. There is no doubt that when we talk about personalized learning experiences that the online format, with its asynchronous elements, allows for student autonomy and independence to a degree that surpasses that which has been achieved in the classroom. Of course, this brings with it a set of challenges as students of all ages, including staff, work on a new way of organizing and motivating themselves.

Secondly, we are given the chance to offer  truly experiential learning about what it means to be a media literate, digital citizen. Of course, we have been covering these topics on the curriculum for a number of years, but what better setting could we ask for to allow students to make connections with their own real life experiences? This is no longer just the realm of languages and IT – all subjects are able to support students in navigating the on-line world and to help students to make responsible, appropriate decisions regarding their use of all the resources that are available.

We must, of course, be thinking about how we can take all of the things that we have learned from this experience back to our physical classrooms when circumstances allow. Such swift acquisition of new skills and understandings for both teachers and students cannot be left behind and forgotten – we will be presented with more challenges when we make the transition back to presential learning, be that in our hybrid model, or in a full time return.

So, while I am sure we are all feeling frustration, I hope that we are also able to look for those ‘silver linings’ and remember that we are also, in many ways very lucky to belong to a community like that of Lancaster School.

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