The COVID-19 pandemic caused a seismic shift in the delivery of education. As a faith-based community, our charism shaped our decision-making as we developed Siena Connect, a fully integrated program of learning and wellbeing in the Dominican way. Our learning model embraced the opportunity to reimagine curriculum delivery while holding at its core, considerations of student wellbeing. Siena Connect offered a variety of rich learning experiences as teaching staff turned challenges into opportunities.
We elected to continue with our normal timetable, albeit making adjustments such as 15-minute breaks between periods to allow staff and students to ‘reset’ before each class. Each day, we delivered six periods of synchronous lesson delivery via Microsoft Teams, with students uploading assessments to our learning management system as per normal practice.
Wellbeing is essential to our physical, mental and social health, therefore comprehensive wellness and spirituality resources were developed. Siena Connect included weekly wellness lessons to teach our students about the importance of self-care, sleep hygiene, positive goal-setting, and creating and maintaining friendships in the changed situation. Through this considered approach, students were provided with the opportunity to practise gratitude and kindness towards themselves and, more importantly, others.
In the spirit of collaboration, the Wellbeing Team and the Mission and Identity Team created a series of lessons that deepened our students’ understanding of ‘Dadirri’, the deep listening to country that is sacred to our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
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