We are now three weeks into the Spring Term and our newly opened phase 2 rooms already seem like home. It has been fantastic to see so many students making use of the HKK room and cooking up many delicious items, whilst in the woodwork room students have been preparing to make bird boxes. Our art room is being well used during both lesson times and break times when it is available as an open art space. More laboratory equipment is being unpacked and ready for use in practical science lessons and the textile room is filling up with beautiful coloured wools and fabrics.
All class mentors have been preparing for student-teacher-parent (STP) meetings which will take place during week 5. Obviously, during these Covid times, all appointments will have to take place by video calls. Nevertheless, these will be really important opportunities for mentors to work with their students and their parents/carers to review the goals set in September 2020, create new SMART goals and discuss next steps.
This week saw the return of our students after the Christmas break. We were delighted to welcome returning students and some new students. We look forward to growing together as a community over the coming weeks and months.
We are continuing to work hard, on a daily basis, to adapt and respond to the challenges of trying to keep our school as safe as possible during these Covid times. The challenges increased on Tuesday morning when we all awoke to the huge amounts of snow that had fallen the previous night and continued to do so throughout the day. I was so impressed by my staff's determination to get to work and we were able to keep the school running for all the students who were able to attend. A true demonstration of a sisu mindset.
The first week of term has been used for re-setting our ethos and values, settling into new classrooms and getting used to the new schedules. From week 3, study sessions will begin again and information about these has been posted on SchoolSoft. The mentors are also preparing for the student-teacher-parent (STP) meetings that will be arranged for weeks 4 and 5. Obviously, these will be conducted by video calls.
On Thursday 7th January 2021 I was delighted to welcome all of my staff back to IES Östersund for the first of two staff training days. Whilst the Fritids staff have continued to care for many of our children over the Christmas holiday period, for the rest of the staff, this was their first time back to school after a two and a half week break. It was really good to see everyone again and to see that we were all healthy and feeling excited to be back. During Thursday and Friday we did some work to re-focus on our school goals, to receive first aid training and to prepare for lessons to re-start on Monday 11th January.
At the moment we are all concerned about the worsening news about Covid-19 and the safety of our students and staff is my primary concern. I am in regular communication with IES Headquarters, health officials, union representatives and colleagues. I and my team are constantly reviewing our procedures to make sure that we are making well-informed decisions. As of writing this (January 8th 2021) the decision is that school will re-open for all students on Monday 11th January and we expect all students to be at school for their mentor time which begins at 08:15. We will continue to keep parents and carers updated via SchoolSoft and our social media platforms.
Week 51 has been filled with plenty of festive celebrations and IES Östersund has felt a wonderfully, cosy place to be. I am so very proud of all our students and staff who have worked incredibly hard all term and yet kept standards high throughout the last week of the autumn term. Grades have been set for our Year 6s and 7s and subject rubrics updated and developmental comments written. Although lessons continued as normal throughout the week, we still had time to participate in some fun. There were three different tipspromenad (scavenger hunts with multiple choice questions to answer) to participate in, festive food to eat at lunchtime and special dress up days.
Phase 2 of our school building is now open and so several mentor groups also took some time to move classrooms on the last day of term. This means that when the spring term starts on Monday 11th January 2021, all classes will be ready to start learning again in their new locations. We will also have all our practical rooms in operation and I know that teachers and students are really excited to finally have lessons in the custom built cookery (HKK), craft (slöjd), art (bild) and science (NO) rooms.
One of the activities for all students on the last day of term was to watch a short film which celebrated many of our achievements since the start of August. It reminded me that although many things have felt new, strange, difficult and often uncomfortable for staff, students and caregivers over the past few months, we also have so much to celebrate and be proud of.
I have spoken to all IES Östersund students about sisu. Sisu is a Finnish word and it is used to describe a mindset. Sisu is about resilience and grit and determination. Sisu is about never giving up, even when things seem unfair or difficult or even impossible. Sisu is about developing skills to persevere even when things do not feel comfortable and cosy. I firmly believe that sisu is a characteristic that is a good fit with our IES core values and message. What we have all (students, staff and caregivers) achieved over the past five months has only been possible as a result of a collective desire to build a school which has a clear and unified culture. I would like to thank everyone involved in our journey so far for their cooperation and patience. It has not always been easy. It has not been perfect. But, everyday, we all try to do our best and every day we have taken another step in building a school that we believe in. Thank you so much, merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy new year! We look forward to welcoming all students back at 08:15 on Monday 11th January 2021.
This week it felt like the countdown to the Christmas break had really begun! These are difficult times and we have to constantly adapt and be careful to act in a way that is in accordance with health guidelines. But that is why it is even more important that we at IES Östersund work creatively to set up our end of term traditions. On 10th December we held our first Nobel Day and then on 11th December we celebrated Lucia. Our large hall meant that it was possible to have a Luciatåg and our Year 7s sung in three separate performances to enable all students and staff to participate in a socially distanced way. The events were fantastic and were yet another opportunity for me to feel extremely proud of what the staff and students have been able to achieve in such a short time and in such challenging circumstances.
I am so looking forward to the special events that we have planned for our final week of term in week 51. However, I know that my teaching staff are also working extremely hard to complete the gradings for all Year 6 and Year 7 and to also update subject rubrics and information on SchoolSoft for all students from FSKL upwards. As a result of Covid restrictions we have not been able to hold parent information sessions about grading but there is information available on SchoolSoft and our student-teacher-parent meetings in weeks 4 and 5 will provide opportunities for more discussion about next steps for students.