‘We will remember them’.  

These solemn words rung out across Tullow on Thursday as we paused to commemorate Remembrance Day. In our church, the month of November is a time for remembering those who have gone before us marked with the holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day on the first two days of November. Earlier this year when I was researching our theme of wonder I came across some thinking about the power of memory. John O’Donoghue suggested that technological advancements can rob people of the joy of memory, which he saw as a great source of wonder. “You can actually go back within yourself to great things that happened to you and enjoy them and allow them to shelter and bless you again,” he said of the power of memory. “Memory keeps presence alive,” he wrote. “[It is] always bringing out of what seemed to be absent new forms of presence.” Over these next few weeks of November, we pause to thank God for the wonderful people who have graced our lives – family, friends colleagues, mentors. In a recent article titled ‘Remember, pray, love’ Lisa Hughes from MACS wrote that when we pray for those who have died in November we are not just remembering the past but praying in the present, that our prayers become the love letters that bind us. It reminds us that love is eternal not even broken by death and that is why we remember. 

Clonard has always prided itself on being a community that is outward-facing and seeks to advocate and work for justice. We are expressing our solidarity with our Kildare Ministries community by actively supporting the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) goods appeal. We know that BASP has a very small core team supported by an active group of volunteers and that we can make a real difference to the work of this ministry through our generosity. Each year level has been assigned a particular focus and we hope that all families will be able to find a small way to get behind this appeal. 

Whilst the presence of COVID 19 in our community continues to be felt in various ways we are joyfully embracing the opportunity to return some of the significant events that are community markers and milestones to our calendar before the end of the year. Next week we welcome back our Year 12s for their celebration morning and final assembly at the conclusion of their exams and then we pray for fine weather as our Class of 2021 and their families will gather on Tullow Lawn to celebrate their Graduation. Year 11 exams are underway next week and timetables are being prepared for early commencement for Years 10 and 11 students commencing 22 November with a shortened introduction to 2022 for Years 7-9 in the final week of school. These opportunities will enable students to be prepared and take responsibility over the summer break to be ready to step straight into the learning program in 2022. After not being able to celebrate last year we are concluding the year with our annual Brigidine Day which we hope will be a memorable way to mark the end of the year. It will be my first so I am especially looking forward to it!! 

Along with planning for end of year celebrations our staff and leaders are considering the evidence sets that inform how we have implemented our annual action plan. Our Extended Leadership Team is working to distil this information to commence the designing of our annual action plan for 2022 whilst ensuring overall alignment with our 2021-2024 School Improvement Plan. After the students finish staff will be undertaking some significant learning and professional development aligned to our School Improvement Plan which will form a critical foundation for much of our work in 2022. 

Our staff days will include: 

  • New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Workshop 
  • Introduction to Positive Behaviour for Learning Framework 
  • Microsoft Gold School Training 
  • Gender and Sexual Diversity and Inclusion Training 
  • eXcel: Wellbeing Framework and PERMAH Wellbeing Domains Workshop 
  • Annual First Aid and CPR Training 
  • Presentation of our Leadership Challenges for staff who have undertaken the Leading from Within Program this year. 

As we start to look towards 2022 with renewed hope, dreaming and vision for what might be possible we are listening and paying attention to the international conversation about embracing the disruption of the pandemic to reexamine, reevaluate and even reimagine what is possible for learning and education. This week Jo Ryan and I have been engaged in 3 international workshops with participants from 14 countries all asking the question how can we do this better for the learners of today and find the best fit for the world of today. Many of the questions are related to the way we assess and measure success. Some of the provocations from the conversations so far include: 

What if instead of asking ‘how good is your child’ we could ask ‘how is your child good’? 

What if we spoke about learning ambitions instead of curriculum? 

What if we were able to complement a final score eg. ATAR or ‘Satisfactory’ with a profile of a learner’s strengths across an array of valued competencies? 

What if we were able to find a way of evidencing complex capabilities and competencies such as character, collaboration, creativity with the same level and trust that we have in high stakes exams results? 

What if….. 

The questions are being asked and we are ensuring we are a part of the conversation at a national level through the New Metrics for Success Partnership with the University of Melbourne and through the global networks we are joining. Our young women deserve this from us. We look forward to continuing to share our wonderings and learning with you in the months ahead. 

Blessings 

Luci