The Beauty of Now and the Beauty of Before

Kyle Thompson | Principal

About three weeks ago, on the last Friday of Term 1, I remember finishing work and walking home, tired, but glad to be able to seek some rest and solitude on the front deck to my residence. I remember settling on the outdoor lounge and looking out towards the Condamine, cool drink in hand, and taking a deep breath as I enjoyed the wonderful outlook (as also captured in my sunset photo highlighted in the online sunset photo competition).

A few minutes into this unwind, a massive, moving, white blanket appeared to fill the sky as literally 1000 corellas descended, firstly into the paddock on the other side of the trees and then finally taking their places in the Gums along the river bank.

As someone who still considers themselves to be relatively new to rural and regional life, I thought ‘How great is this?’ Sitting on my deck, looking over the Condamine River, watching and listening to the native wildlife as the sun set behind the trees. It was a truly spectacular setting and a special experience. I thought to myself how much better to sit and listen to the sound of cockatoos and observe nature than the many years of my city observations, watching traffic pass my house (cars and trucks) and basking in the glow of a streetlight rather than the ambient light from the setting sun. I genuinely thought ‘How cool is this’. And it was.

Some three weeks later, this is no longer ‘cool’! I have since heard these crazy feathered fools create ruckus after ruckus. They go off at 3am, just before dawn, then at about 7:30am. They return again late afternoon and go off about 4pm and then again, big time, at dusk. The novelty has well and truly worn off the sound of their arrival and posturing. Now the sight of them flying in, masquerading as an airborne white blanket, makes me shake my head in helpless frustration as I know the peace and serenity will again be shattered at all hours of the day and night.

I still recognise the beauty and excitement I felt at the beginning of this new experience. However, I also recognise that this new experience is something I don’t wish to experience permanently and in fact I long for how it was before their arrival.

To some degree, this is how I feel about our current teaching and learning environment. I would begin by saying how brilliant our staff have been. And, I use the word brilliant deliberately. I would also reference how incredible our families have been, students and parents, in their support of the staff and the College as we have entered this new experience. It seems to be pretty special in a lot of ways.

Just as I felt with the arrival of 1000 corellas, I feel our whole community has embraced this ‘new world’ experience. We have all thrown ourselves into this new experience and all its challenges and learnings. There appears to be a real energy from our staff and students as we embrace the newness of this experience and marvel at the technical abilities and different ways in which we can stay connected. I fear though, that just as the novelty of the corellas wore thin, at some stage we will all feel the fatigue and potentially frustration as we begin to remember the beauty of how things were before we entered this new world. As excited and energised as we are to be able to have this new experience, deep down we know that schools aren’t the same without actually having students in rooms with teachers. There is so much more to teaching than content delivery. The magic is in the relationships and interactions. As educators, we don’t just teach, we spend our professional lives learning constantly as well. Such has been this experience.

I look forward to the day we welcome all of our students back to the classroom, greeting our boys and girls at our metaphorical gate. I look forward to walking past our rooms and seeing the vibrancy of students’ interactions in the same space as their teachers. I am sure we all, if we aren’t already, look forward to a return of the old normal and the rest and comfort this might bring after a period of intensity never before experienced in education.

Thank you once again, to our entire community for supporting each other and embracing the ‘new’. I still wouldn’t trade the Condie, sunset and birds for the cars, trucks and street lights! Welcome back to Term 2.