From the Principal

Working from Home: The things that matter online

So most of our students and most of the country’s students are now working from home.

By now most families will have come to a form of accord over the general rules of domestic working/studying and interpersonal isolation engagement.

Here are a few of the standards you need to observe in regard to your online learning and communication as we “bunker down” for Term 2:

Dress

It is easy to forget how much what we wear has an impact on how we think and how effective we are in what we do. In a face-to-face world, research shows that we make instantaneous decisions about a person and their worth and status from what they wear (there are reams of studies on how a person’s shoes tell people about how important they are).

We are not going to police uniform during our studying at home phase but we believe that what you wear while you work and how you appear on screen will have an impact on you and the way others perceive you.

“Your style does more than just send messages, to your mind or to others. New research shows it actually impacts how you think. Professional dress, one study found, increases abstract thinking and gives people a broader perspective. So that tie might actually be switching on your creativity button. If you’re loafing around on a long weekend with half a box of pizza, you can probably get away with breaking out the frumpy comfortables. Taking intentional command of how you dress and present is a good step in empowering yourself, accomplishing your goals, and living a more lucid life at the helm of your decisions.”

Manners

Be respectful. While it is easier to say hurtful or disrespectful things without standing face-to-face with someone, it is important to remember that your classmates and teachers are real people who are affected by the words you say and how you deal with them online. It is essential to keep in mind the feelings and opinions of others, even if they differ from your own or you are feeling angry or isolated or want to do damage to your siblings for what they did earlier today.  And remember, don’t post or share (even privately) inappropriate material. Nothing is truly private online.

“In this Internet age, some people seem to dispense with the good manners they are taught as children. Emboldened by the remoteness of online communications, certain individuals are tempted to comment in ways they never would if the recipient was sitting beside them in the same room.”

Mute

Notice how everything echoes and there are strange noises distracting you during your Google-meet. It is probably because you and some other members of the meet are not muting your microphone when you are not talking.

“Not muting yourself is the biggest sin you can commit on a conference call. Every little sound you make is picked up, from the clacking of keys as you type to your roommate’s call in the other room. You can also avoid potential embarrassment if you have to keep shushing your dog from barking or asking your kids or roommates to stop talking. Most platforms have an option to start calls on mute, so make that your default.”

Background

You are responsible for what happens in your space during a google-meet. You have no right to offend, embarrass or upset any person by what you say or what they see happening or showing in the background. Posters, people etc need to be checked before you check-in. You have probably all seen the videos of people forgetting they are online and taking their device to the toilet etc without realising that everybody can see and hear everything. Offenders will be dealt with.

“Choosing a Bad Setting: If you want people to focus on what you are saying during your video conference, you need to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Distractions can arise if you choose a bad setting for your video conference. Ideally, you want to be in a well-lit room. You also want to make sure you are not backlit. A common mistake is to have a window behind where you are sitting. When video conferencing, if that window is not covered, your face will be dark while everything outside the window will be crystal clear.”

Timetables

We know that working from home is going to be different – No bells, no one next to you to remind you what subject you have next etc. Remember that staying in contact with your classmates and teachers is not just good for your education, it is good for your wellbeing. We are required to maintain school rolls, make sure you are OK etc. and will try to schedule Google meets etc. the best way possible for you. Stay in the community.

Five Tips to Work From Home

  • Stick to a schedule: routines do eventually change when working from home, but sticking to the same schedule as a regular office day is a good way to ease into it.
  • Keep in touch with the team: whether through a morning catch up or a group chat, keep communication flowing to avoid feelings of isolation.
  • Set regular breaks: take lunch, move about and have frequent breaks.
  • Start and end the workday: it’s easy to keep working overtime when at home, but to maintain work-life balance, it’s crucial to be able to switch off.
  • Choose the best work area: set up in an area of the home that’s comfortable, quiet, and set up for productivity.

Expectations — Communication protocols

The School has set up protocols in regard to how we are going to keep in contact with our students for curriculum and pastoral care reasons. You may think they do not suit your needs right now but please be aware that we are going to be doing this for a couple of months and the systems we are using are designed to be sustainable over that period for you and the teachers.

Know what the contact protocols are (time, frequency etc.) and use them effectively. If you need help contacting your child’s teacher through SEQTA, please view this instructional video.

Working remotely, you don’t have the luxury of body language or bumping into people in hallways, so communication becomes key. Decades psychological research has shown that a large portion of communication is nonverbal and body language is incredibly important to understanding people. Video goes a long, long way to give you that in-person experience.

Stay safe.
Stay smart.
Stay connected.
Stay sane.

A guide on How to Google Meet


Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School
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