Has your practice changed dramatically over the last six months? This question may differ slightly for Victorians and New Zealanders. However, one thing we know is that we certainly didn’t have time to prepare for COVID19 even if we had the best risk management policies in place. So how have you managed? How will you manage into 2021?

Life has changed so much, even for those States and Territories who have managed the COVID period so well. We now have a good understanding of how adaptable our teachers had to be during COVID19 and how adaptable our teachers need to be. We also know how student life has altered although we won’t know the repercussions of these alterations for some time.

Do we know how the lives of our Professional Teams have had to change? How have they been affected, altered, progressed? What brilliant adaptations did we make? When will we sit and estimate which of these changes has longevity and which should be archived for re-use when another crisis occurs? We all know that our core purpose and our mission remain the same. The issues may be “nuancing” and enhancing. Keeping the Principal well-briefed is now more important than at any time in the past. Through the Principal, informing the community about new ways of connecting, show-casing the communications’ team to the community, so that the community has confidence in our new systems.

We know we have had to navigate new systems for remote learning, adopt new processes, meet differently, communicate differently. For many of these scenarios, there were no manuals at the bottom of the filing cabinet, no book on the library shelf.

Establishing which part of your practice, and your team’s practice, is more important and necessary to your current and positive delivery, takes some thought and time. We have learned that we need to be digitally savvy. We need to determine what technology, currently in place, can be better supported and used. This is the time for consultation, with your colleagues, your community, your students. You can be the masters of your digital future, asking your community what they liked, what didn’t they like, etc. We have learned how important professional development is.

Change happens daily – it is a constant, especially during these last few months. These changes impact not only the teaching and professional support staff, but they also heavily impact the school community. Many of these changes will be retained in our, dare I say it, COVID NORMAL working environment. There are many scenarios to cover, just to name a few.

  • Raising our team’s level of communication expertise and management
  • The team’s circle of influence
  • The team’s strategy – increased number of meetings held online rather than in person until we have a vaccine.

However, post lock-down and post vaccine, I am sure the best practice professional teams will not go back to life as we knew it. The impact on society as a whole will, in many ways, affect our daily routine operations. The ‘’new normal” will be constructively and professionally abnormal. One thing we do know is that relationship building will be paramount to everything we do, emphasising personal contact in one of our chosen communication environments, whenever, and wherever, possible.

This is the time for strategic thinking, the development of your communications’ team Master Plan, and the projection over the short and mid-term of the resources you will need, both human and financial, to make it work. Where can we really make things happen, add value, improve work practices? Since lock-down and staged restrictions, some of our work practices have become more efficient, especially when it comes to zoom meetings and the duration of these. Perhaps some zoom meetings are here to stay and should be here to stay. Zoom practice needs to be refined, honed, well-administered. Whilst we would not want to see face-to-face meetings disappear, it may be that not all staff/committee/leadership meetings need to be face-to-face.

The “new abnormal” – it’s here to stay. For a while, at the very least.

Geraldine Wilson

September 2020