In my previous blog post, I considered the importance of taking space to reflect on these extraordinary times. In education, we often focus on the 'outside world'; however, research related to well-being tells us 'inward focus' is just as important (Helen Immordino-Yang, 2012). Taking time for inward reflection impacts the way we build memories and make meaning.
This week, I wanted to share some thoughtful reflections written by our staff and students. They each share voices that will mark an important time in history. Members of our community were asked to reflect on the following question:
I love films, so sitting in a cinema with others as we collectively experience the product of someone’s imagination is what will be high on my list post lockdown. There is something about a shared experience of beauty that feeds the soul. I am also looking forward to reconnecting with my loved ones and friends in person. Zoom, Teams and Skype were vital to remain connected over lockdown but don’t come near to replacing face to face contact.
Helaina Coote, English teacher
I have missed my kids. Being a blended family with 5 kids (Well they are not actually kids with the youngest being 22) we have a family tradition called 'flatties tea night' when they all come to our place for tea, and boy can they eat. I have missed this. Zoom 'flatties tea night' just didn't' work. They spent most of their time changing the background and turning themselves into talking pickles etc, but still lots of laughs and nothing too serious. This is exactly what I miss and what the next flatties tea night is going to look like, but without the talking pickles.
Brent Cummack, Science teacher
I missed classroom energy! Although online learning got us through a bizarre situation, I really missed the 'buzz' of school. The screen provided a great conduit for learning; however, it could not turn personality, congeniality and the love of learning into bits and bytes. This was also true of anyone other socialising or meetings over Zoom etc.
Kristian Giles, Mathematics teacher
I, like many others during quarantine, missed contact with other people. While I enjoyed much of lockdown, such as the laid-back pace or time with family, I missed talking to people outside of my bubble or that weren’t on the other side of a screen. I felt that close, face-to-face contact with people creates a much more intimate feel and banter that cannot be replicated on social media platforms. It was great to return to that.
Toby, Year 11
When lockdown began, the small rural town I live in felt deserted with no cars around which was a sight neither myself nor my parents had seen in 17 years of living there. To me, this was the wake-up call showing how significant and serious the lockdown was going to be. After lockdown I am looking forward to seeing friends and having a bit of a social life again. I’m also looking forward to going back to my part time job and returning to school to learn in person rather than online, both of which I thoroughly missed during the lockdown period. Whilst we’ve all made sacrifices in lockdown, some more than others, I am grateful for the time I spent with my family who were all at home over the lockdown period and being able to use technology to still communicate with people.
Nick, Year 13
What I missed during lockdown...
“Brightening your day as you brighten mine,
Expressive faces, warm smiles, the unexpected.
Gestures, laughter, just watching…
Eye contact, movement, the touch of a hand…
Shared experiences, feeling others’ pain and joy.
Community…being there for you
And truly seeing
who we are meant to be.”
Christine Leighton, Rector
I missed home. My home became a workplace, a place of focus on schoolwork. Before the lockdown, I couldn’t wait to get home just to relax and rewind. Coming home on a normal school day would be a relief, a chance for a snack, a short nap, and a time to catch up with the rest of the world. With my bedroom being the classroom, my kitchen being the cafeteria, and my phone being the back of the classroom distraction, the place which I once used to relax and forget about work, had now become a constant reminder of the stress and pressure associated with school. There was always a thought in the back of my mind, when I was watching videos or playing games, that I had work to do, and it was just a click away. Being back at school now offers a chance to reclaim my unwinding space, where I can sit back and not have to think about all the tests and internals which are happening at the moment.
James, Year 13
In lockdown, I reflected on the joy I experience while travelling to foreign places. One simple thing I missed is the feeling I get when I am part of the buzz of a lively place and I know no one. I am thinking a busy café, a concert, an airport or a museum. I love taking space to observe people I have never met. It is about novelty: overhearing and contributing to random conversations and having an encounter that surprises me.
Kerry Larby, Geography teacher
After everything dies down, I am most looking forward to normality without that tinge of weirdness. Things like hand sanitising at the start of every class, seeing not one single airplane in the sky, and of course, hugging my friends without breaking the rules. Things that make life just a little bit less enjoyable.
But at the same time, I am looking forward to incorporating aspects of my lockdown life into my normal life. Taking breaks, doing yoga, and spending more time with my family are all things that benefited my well-being, that I wouldn't have normally taken the time for.
Grace, Year 11
I missed the daily commute. The sturdy hum of the Blue Line bus, how it wearily exhaled at each embark, encumbered by the increase in weight. I missed leaving home under the darkness of an unripe dawn, my Dad sitting next to me, Mum’s silhouette in the kitchen stark against the yellowed windowpane. Walking with purpose from one place to another, enveloped and guided by the flow of people on the sidewalk. Having a destination, my path interweaving with the paths of others.
Mackenna, Year 13
My brother and sister both stayed at their flat in lockdown, so after lockdown I am most looking forward to a 'normal' family dinner. I have enjoyed life being slowed down over lockdown, and having more time to myself to enjoy the little things in life. I am very much looking forward to seeing everyone again and getting back into the school routine.
The first thing I looked forward to doing after lockdown was reconnecting with my family. Despite being able to connect via Facebook and Zoom, I really missed being able to see my nephews in particular. As all three of my nephews are under the age of 10, it doesn’t take long for them to grow and learn new things, so even two months without being able to see them meant that I was missing watching them grow. The first chance my family and I got after lockdown, we met up for pizza and just hung out and chatted for hours.
Longer term, I look forward to being able to travel overseas again. Seeing the borders between countries close really brought home to me, the realisation of how lucky we are to be able to travel overseas when we do.
James Jenkinson, English teacher
Lockdown has confirmed for me that I am a creature of simple habits. Family is the most important thing in my life and I spent lockdown at home with my husband, three children and our dogs and cat. I was in my happy place – I had time to exercise, time to cook, time to eat and drink (too much), time to read, time to just be. The sun shone and the colours of autumn were more vibrant than ever before. Did I miss anything during lockdown? No…I was surrounded with all I needed and actually began to dread the return to the fast-paced treadmill, realising we would never have that time together again.
Bronwyn Radcliffe, French teacher
The first thing I'll do after lockdown is... Reconnect my son with his grandparents, both in Christchurch and Auckland. And sit back and watch the special bond that they have. With his grandfather in Christchurch being immuno-compromised it felt like forever since they had seen each other in person. Facetime was cool but there's nothing having that person-to-person bond between people. So as soon as Level 2 was announced, we took a roadie across town to meet one set and booked flights for a weeks' time to meet the other. I certainly know that George missed his grandparents dearly.
Mikae Tuu'u, Head of Middle School
During lockdown many people discovered gardening as a way of coping with uncertainty. It has always been my solace and healing place and it made me very happy to see others discovering the joy of growing things. Personally, I looked forward to more of the same when lockdown came to an end and have been impressed and moved by the enthusiasm of new gardeners who are embracing a quieter, yet fruitful life. I wrote this while we sheltered:
A quiet fire
I’d like a quiet fire on the driveway.
Just a few embers in a fire pit or maybe a chimenea
a pear-shaped rotundity, a clay creature
to welcome and embrace me in a time of isolation.
A place to contemplate the mesclun
as the world grows anxiously silent.
Crackling logs, the comforting chit chat
of friendly flames. By day the greedy cement
sequesters the sunlight so in the thin margins of soil
I planted a reach of peas and hollow stemmed courgettes.
Tendrils and giant fan-hands lean over
my shoulder seeking warmth in the twilight.
I’d like a quiet fire on my narrow suburban drive
where the neighbours see me commune with cats and cucumbers.
My eyes golden in the fire light, slow blinking
body pendulous, placidly dangling.
Marisa Capetta, Poet and receptionist
There is no doubt our current situation provides an opportunity to reflect on what we value and what we are grateful for. I enjoyed reading through these reflections as it reminds us that, in the end, it is the simple things that matter the most. How often do you connect with your inner horizons? What did you miss most in lockdown?
Kerry Larby, Head of Well-being and Positive Education
Thursday 4 June 2020