TASIS England is introducing a series of thought leadership articles on topics such as well-being, transitioning to online education and staying connected during these challenging times.
This week’s post The Pathway to Flourishing in the Face of Adversity is written by Jason Tait, Director of Pastoral Care and Designated Safeguarding Lead, TASIS England
By Jason Tait, Director of Pastoral Care and Designated Safeguarding Lead, TASIS England.
As the world of education takes a giant step into the unknown world of technology-driven online learning programs, it is the strength of the teacher-student relationship that will provide much-needed certainty for school communities during the most troubling of times. In a time of universal uncertainty, the enduring need for attachment and the human touch has never been more important.
Compassion and Care
While schools quite rightly will be making every effort to maintain teaching and learning, the provision of compassion and care for students and their families will be equally if not more important.
TASIS is creatively providing opportunities for students to connect with each other and their advisor or homeroom teacher as a central component of online learning in the coming weeks and months. Such moments will provide the comfort of routine opportunities to connect and re-affirm important attachments. The importance of such moments cannot be underestimated in a school community that has students in every corner of the world.
With the worldwide reach of the pandemic we are facing, the truly international nature of our student body, and the widely differing stages, impact, and national responses to the coronavirus, we have recognized that safeguarding has taken on an even more central and potentially complex role in the life of our online school. This unique challenge requires a creative solution.
Within two days of the start of online learning, TASIS was able to identify those students who were not engaging with teachers. Our Upper School Dean of Students and her attendance team created a system that allowed them to gather and share information from colleagues, enabling us to provide support for those students who were facing a variety of difficulties and challenges in their new learning environment.
Communication and Connection
If compassion, care, and creativity are the building blocks that will allow school communities to flourish during this time, then communication and connection are the glue that will cement those all-important relationships. Therefore, all of our responses to student needs are personal and from the member of faculty with whom that student and/or parents have a strong relationship and attachment.
Despite the Coronavirus, the designated role of educators has not changed, whether in person or online. As teachers, we exist to be constant, caring, and compassionate figures for our students and their families, seeking at all times to meaningfully connect through effective and personal communication.
As we seek to comprehend our current and future position, the words of the founder of TASIS England, Mary Crist Fleming, provide timeless and much-needed perspective:
“You ask, what can I, one small person, do against the enormity of it all?
And I answer you, start in a small but daily way – becoming the kind of human being who cares first about immediate things and immediate people – your roommate, your friends, your family, some sick person you know who is suffering, some old person who is lonely, a gesture, a note, a word, a call, the smallest thoughtful action that means so much to those needing it – the reaching out of a hand – in doing so, as you grow, you become that kind of person… You are no longer one small person, you have become a force, a force to be counted, a force that can change current events, can change history!”
Mary Crist Fleming, speech to students, 1991
When the day comes for our international community to carry on our learning journey in person and together, we will do so safely in the knowledge that our relationships flourished because of, and not in spite of, the events of Spring/Summer 2020.