Thank you to the many people in our community who have welcomed me back from my six months of Long Service Leave. One parent even said, ‘Welcome home!’ Carey certainly feels like home, and I missed being around the ‘people’ of Carey, especially those younger people of our Junior School.
There is much talk and rhetoric about the sort of knowledge and skills 21st century educators need to equip them to teach the future citizens of tomorrow. I follow George Couros on Twitter, and I enjoy his posts about innovation, mindsets and leadership. He talks about the crucial skillset teachers need to be educating our students. However, I would argue that these skillsets are being taught to our students now, and are not exclusively for teachers. I will elaborate on a few of these essential characteristics.
Positive Education is infused into the life of the Junior School. Our staff help the children to know themselves better as a person and learner by providing experiences for the students to build resilience, tolerance, compassion, and service to others. Examples of this include our CARE program from Prep to Year 6, our cross-age House program, the Restorative Justice approach we use daily for solving conflict resolution, and the Community Service initiatives we undertake – especially at the Year 4 and 6 levels.
Effective leaders influence others and they do not necessarily lead from the front. We provide opportunities for the students to lead from where they are. A recent example of this was our Year 6 Leadership Day earlier in the term where staff from Just One Day led our students through simulations, enabling our students to reflect on world issues such as global food distribution, safety, and hunger. Another example is our encouragement of leadership amongst our younger students via the recent announcement of our ‘tech experts’. They are the ‘go to’ people in the class when there is a technical issue or problem that needs solving. They are mentored by Anna Davidson, our Junior School Librarian and eLearning Co-ordinator. She supports those students to help others. She also learns from and with the children.
Networked/Collaborative and Inclusive
Couros says that the best ideas and experiences can come from anywhere and anyone; you just need access. Tapping into the strengths of others and bringing those in to the classroom helps build community. A lot of collaboration takes place almost daily in our Junior School. Recent examples of this are the Year 11 IB students who have been assisting some of our upper primary students with their reading and Chinese studies. Some of our Upper Primary students have been helping the Preps with their coding skills. The buzz that happens when this cross-age collaboration happens is palpable. Our Year 5 students held their Market stall this week. This was a culmination of a term’s work on an Economics unit, and it demanded that the students collaborate, use their imagination to upcycle products to sell, work in a group to plan, design, use their entrepreneurial skills, and make their products. This experience for the Year 5 students is challenging and, importantly, all profits raised go to the JMB Foundation – a cause very close to Carey’s heart.
Modelling openness to learning and change as our world continuously moves forward is important. Equipping our students with STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics) skills is one way forward. National Science Week was from 12–20 August; however, for many of our students, Term 3 has been a National Science Term! The students from Prep to Year 4 have had many hands-on learning experiences from incursions, guest speakers who are scientists, and visits to our Science laboratories in the Centre for Learning and Innovation. Dr Julie Wetherbee, Head of Science, was astounded by what the Year 4 students were able to demonstrate when they had their lab lessons. Our visiting student teachers from Kansai University in Japan gave exemplary Science lessons to some of our students as well.
Educators should provide learning experiences that not only make a connection to the head but also to the heart. All of the staff and students in the ELC and Junior School have been making a poppy from clay in preparation for this year’s Remembrance Day, under the supervision of our Art staff and artist-in-residence Mandi Thorpe. Making and firing 800 poppies is no mean feat but this venture is teaching and reminding our students about the poppy as a memorial symbol to the fallen. We look forward to that coming to fruition in November.
Deputy Head – Student Learning