Like so many other schools around the world, the start of this new academic year meant opening our doors exclusively to faculty and staff, without the usual excitement of seeing our students again and welcoming them back after a long summer holiday.
Although we had anticipated this situation months ago, as we planned for the “new normal,” there is obvious disappointment in the lack of face-to-face engagement with our community. Nevertheless, in an effort to mitigate the impact of the ongoing crisis, our school has reframed the year’s usual shortlist of whole-school goals, focusing instead on the opportunities for reflection and refinement. This is our Year of Recovery.
Over the past few months, we have come to appreciate some of the unexpected, positive outcomes of this crisis. Yes, there have been significant losses, but this experience has also taught us how to do the hard things.
First and foremost, it is reinforcing the real value in holding fast to our school’s vision and mission—our anchor in rough waters. This is not the time to compromise our values or dilute those aspects of our educational programs that we deem essential for student growth. Of course, we have to trim “non-essentials,” such as school trips and most extra-curriculars, valuable though they may be. However, if our vision statement is more than just an idealistic goal, then we should develop organic ways to bring this to fruition within our existing distance learning program. In so doing, we maintain the integrity of who we are as a school.
Healthy recovery also demands that our whole team function with a shared purpose, and that each member be valued. At the start of this extraordinary year, we are more mindful of the strengths and capacity of each and every faculty member. In particular, we are newly appreciative of our local national teachers, many of whom hold advanced degrees in their fields and extensive training in our programs. In the past, most of our local teachers served in a variety of supporting roles, as co-teachers and assistants. Admittedly, this structure did not always perfectly align with our ethos. It simply was the way things had always been done.
With the impact of travel restrictions and protracted limitations on hiring foreign staff, our local national colleagues are now finding new opportunities to contribute more meaningfully. The school is making a greater effort to effectively utilize our human resources, giving due consideration to the readiness of local teachers to step into leadership roles. We still enjoy a diverse, international teaching staff, but now we are more balanced, integrated, connected as a whole faculty.
Another interesting outcome of the crisis has been strengthened partnerships with provincial ministries and local organizations. With the indefinite, mandated closure of all school campuses in our region, everyone is concerned about the immediate and long-term impact on students and the community. At the start of the new term, we are working closely with local authorities to plan and execute safe activities for small groups of students on our campus playing fields and outdoor spaces. Some of the regional football clubs have also been granted special permission to use our fields for training purposes. These phased measures ensure that, as an international school, we continue to nurture relationships within our host country.
As the crisis continues, we must remember who we are as a learning community, strengthening our relationships from within and without. It is time to embody the vision statements that define “who we want to be when we grow up.” This will require ongoing reflection, as we refine our practices and philosophies in this Year of Recovery. Ultimately, our success will be measured in the resilience of the individual learner, the parent, the educator, and the institution.
Kimberly Kingry is the Principal of Yogyakarta Independent School, an IB World School in Central Java.
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09/17/2020 - None
Thanks for the article . I hope highly qualified And experienced host nationals be considered to take up leadership roles in the near future .
We have a diverse of students and so a diverse leadership could make a more balanced ,integrated and connected faculty as mentioned in the article. Now is the time for a change in education .