Our first Rock Your Socks and pyjamas day was a big success! I even went as far as to wear an odd pair of shoes with my special pink and green socks which had been designed and made in our local Woolpower factory! It was wonderful to meet students in their crazy and colourful socks and even though many students and staff were dressed in their pyjamas we still maintained a calm and orderly learning environment and kept high expectations for all. Although it was fun for us to come to school in cozy clothes it was also an important way to celebrate that we are all different...and that is a good thing! All class mentors have been working with their students to raise awareness of Down Syndrome and the importance of inclusion and acceptance.
Our return to school after the Sports Break felt a bit unusual because all of our Year 7s were on distance learning for the week. We were following the official guidelines and recommendations given to us to help reduce the spread of Covid. I was very impressed by how the staff and students adapted to this new way of teaching and learning. None of this would have been possible without the hard work and support of our IT rep - Mrs Östling. The day before Sports Break, Mrs Östling made sure that all the Year 7 Chrome Books were correctly set up for the Year 7s to take home with them and use during distance learning.
We are really looking forward to the return of our Year 7s in week 12. It will also be good to receive their feedback about how their experiences of distance learning went. It would be nice to think that week 11 was a unique situation but, the reality is that we will need to be prepared to repeat the process in the future. We obviously want to learn from students, parents and carers and our staff's experiences and so please do share any ideas or suggestions with mentors or me.
The week before we finished for Sports Break was a week of firsts! We welcomed Ms Maria Holmlund to IES Östersund. Ms Holmlund will be working as a classroom teacher with FSKL B and we are very pleased to welcome her to our IES family. I know that her new students made her feel at home from her very first day and they greeted her with beautiful hand drawn welcome cards and lots of big smiles.
The whole school also enjoyed our very first Winter Sports Day during week 9. The weather had not been kind to us and my staff worked really hard to adapt plans in response to the melting ice and warmer weather conditions. It was disappointing that the ice fishing and ice skating groups had to be cancelled and students were allocated to different activity groups. However, we were still able to run ski-ing, sledging, team-building games and cook outs and everyone was able to enjoy themselves in a safe and orderly way. Hopefully next year we will be able to participate in a wider range of winter sports!
Finally, the week ended with preparations for our first IES Östersund Sports Break. Our Fritids will be open throughout week 10 to provide activities and care for students who have been pre-booked. For everyone else, I wish you all a very happy and relaxing week away from school. It is important that we all take responsibility for our actions so that we stay as healthy and safe as possible. I have written to all students and their parents/carers, through SchoolSoft, and provided a reminder of the official advice for how to act during these Covid times.
Each morning I stand at the school gate and welcome students to school. It is such a great way to start the day. A simple 'Good morning' to each and every student who passes me. The rewards are huge. I almost always receive a 'Good morning' or 'Hej!' in return and almost every student gives me a smile too. Sometimes I even get a cheery wave or a Covid-safe high-5! The daily meet and greet is a super way to connect with the students, show we care for their welfare and safety and also pick up on any issues that may be concerning them or their parents and carers who may be dropping them off at school too.
Starting the day outside has also given me the opportunity to notice the ever-lightening days. Long gone are the mornings of standing outside in the dark of night. Now the sky is a bright, light blue and the sun is already shining over the school roof. Spring, or at least vårvinter, is nearly here.
On Monday mornings, all students start the day with 30 minutes mentor time. This is a really important way for the mentors to check-in with their students to develop and strengthen relationships, provide important messages for the week ahead and support the students with setting or reviewing academic goals. Our student care team (SCT) have also been collaborating with all mentors on the theme of sisu superpowers. I have spoken about sisu before and we are working hard to develop a school culture of grit over challenge and adversity. Recently, there has been a focus on the special nature of autism and ADHD and how people can find their own unique strengths by overcoming challenges that these diagnoses present. I am so proud of the open, inclusive and supportive mindset that we are building amongst all of our students and staff at IES Östersund.
Over the past few weeks all mentors at IES Östersund have been hard at work preparing for, and hosting, the second student-teacher-parent (STP) meetings of the school year. Obviously, if these were not Covid times, the STPs would be held face-to-face, at school. Communication is always clearer and more effective that way. However, these are tough times and we have to make adaptations to make sure that everyone in our school community stays safe.
Therefore, all STPs have taken place remotely by video meetings. Every IES mentor took time to review academic achievement and attendance data before individual STPs and all students were encouraged to reflect on the SMART goals that they set during the first STPs which were held in September 2020. The Spring Term STPs were a really valuable opportunity for students, parents/carers and mentors to work together to review those goals' progress and to either set new goals or adapt existing goals.
I want to thank everyone who has taken part in the recent STPs for the time that they have invested in the meetings, the thoughtful reflection that took place and the really useful feedback that came out of so many of the meetings