Primary Ethics volunteer bulletin June 2021

High schools – from pilot to fully-fledged program | Why CST? | Covid | Staff photos | More…

Well done on getting to the end of term 2.

We know that restrictions following  the Covid outbreak in Sydney are playing havoc with school holiday travel plans and even local school holiday plans. We hope you all nevertheless manage to have a good term break – good luck to the parents under stay-at-home restrictions with their children.

Check out our Covid FAQ web page and of course contact the Helpdesk if you have any concerns volunteering this week or at any time.

We always welcome your feedback, questions and photos. For those who do Facebook, please join in on our Primary Ethics volunteer group – and don’t forget to keep an eye on your local network Chatter group in EVIE.

Farewell Maria
Many of you will have known Maria McCarthy who was a volunteer manager with Primary Ethics for 10 years until she left at the end of January. Maria was a powerhouse who helped very many Primary Ethics volunteers in all aspects of the training and work. She came back to the office for her belated farewell lunch last week and we took the opportunity to get a (most-of) staff photo.

Back: Evan Hannah CEO, Karen Lee Training Manager, Maria McCarthy, Paula Lam Helpdesk supremo, Carey Francis Volunteer Manager, John Burgess Volunteer Manager
Lower: Emma Doran Helpdesk support, Anuya Velpanur Area Manager, Elizabeth Allen Engagement & Administration Manager, Darcie Funk Training Administrator


The pilot high school program gets its wings
The two-term pilot program at Fort Street High School in Sydney’s inner-west concludes this week, with Marie Del Monte, Claudia Lema and Graham Smith delivering the last lesson to 32 Year 7 students. Since the beginning of the school year, classes have explored topics that include Life under Covidthe Cost of a Human Life and Yuck. Does it matter if something is disgusting?

Marie, Claudia and Graham reported that by term 2, the students demonstrated growing confidence and trust in one another, engaged enthusiastically in thinking and in hearing what others think on ethical issues. The teachers have been well supported by CST member Mike Godfrey, who observed lessons and provided support and the motivation to keep improving. The ethics teachers have provided us with invaluable feedback, in particular about the new curriculum, and this has led to further refinements.

The hard work and commitment of the teachers and of ethics coordinator Jenny Curtis to bring ethics lessons to high school students was rewarded with the news that Fort Street HS will be continuing past the pilot with ethics lessons for Year 7. The school will also offer the parents of current Year 8s the option to have their student in ethics lessons for the remainder of this year.

Congratulations Jenny, Marie (seen at left), Claudia and Graham!

Meanwhile, the pilot will continue in Term 3 at James Ruse Agricultural HS and Katoomba HS and the work of evaluating the pilot will shift up a gear. We’re very pleased that Rebecca Iliffe has agreed to act as consultant for the High School pilot evaluation. Rebecca was Project Consultant for the South West Sydney Schools Project (2019), Primary Ethics’ first location-specific research project, and her work on that was highly praised for its rigor, thoroughness and utility.

Focus and circuit breaker suggestion
Looking for ideas to focus your students at the beginning of a lesson? Here’s a short routine the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir use to warm up their voices, bodies and minds. You could also use it as a circuit breaker.Students start by sitting in their chairs, then they lean forward, lean back, to the left, to the right, stand up, sit down and repeat.The children’s choir sing the instructions, but you could just say the words and clap the rhythm. See it in action here, from 25.30 minutes:

For older children, you could add the second verse: A stamp, a slap, a clap and a click – then do it backwards. And repeat.

It gets more complex, but this is a good place to stop. Keep it short so that it’s not cutting into your lesson time.

And if you do give it a try, please let us know how it goes!

Why is the CST (Classroom Support Team) contacting me?

Some CST members (the people in black!) in the office recently: Mike Godfrey, Diana Dagg, John Clayton and Coral Sturgess, Manager

We get many requests for back-up from our Classroom Support Team. Since the school year began, close to 100 of you have had CST contact, most of those in term 2.

Support can range from just a phone call, through to meeting for a chat, all the way to a CST member sitting in on your lesson/s and giving their structured feedback in a follow-up session.

Sometimes someone from the CST will call you – and you might be surprised or even feel you’ve done something wrong.

There’s no need to feel like that! Often we’re just checking in.

The CST is non-judgemental. CST members are usually teachers just like you, often with a background in adult learning or coaching. They all have in common a strong commitment to helping ethics teachers be your very best and to get satisfaction from your role.

At Primary Ethics we believe we owe our volunteers a duty of care. We provide high level training to become a teacher – but that is just the beginning. We want to look after you and support you. We don’t want you to feel tense or isolated and unsure how to handle your class. Even those who have been volunteers for some years may run into a challenging class and need a sympathetic and informed ear. That’s where the CST comes in.

Primary Ethics hears you. We’re actively listening. We read the end-of-training surveys and surveys from those who have finished volunteering with us. We read the comments in our Facebook group and try to quickly fix problems that are mentioned there.

The CST now follows up on post-class reports each week and if you consistently say there’s an issue, we’ll get in touch to see if we can help you improve the situation. Volunteers regularly tell us they are pleased their concerns have been heard and attended to by such caring professionals.

The CST is first and foremost here to support you.

Volunteer of the year nominations
Is there someone in your school team who you think is an exceptional volunteer? You have another two weeks to nominate them for recognition in the 2021 Volunteer of the Year Awards, which close at 5pm on Friday 9 July

Calling parent-teachers
Many of you teach in your children’s school and are subscribed to our parent newsletter Parents@Home. We’re having a rethink of @Home and want to ask for your input about what you as a parent want to hear about your children’s ethics lessons. So watch your inbox for a short survey, coming soon.