Building connections with and between parents
Chris Ivey / Community
As we come to the end of our first full week
05 February 2021
From Our Principal Reverend Chris Ivey: Building connections with and between parents
Dear St Andrew’s community,
As we come to the end of our first full week, it’s been great to see such energy and commitment from our students and staff. As more activities get underway the routine begins to check in and become more comfortable, I do hope that everyone is settling in to the 2021 academic year.
Building Connections with and between parents
It was great to see so many new and current families join us on the Aquatic Centre balcony for drinks last Tuesday. Events such as these are great ways for our parents to connect with each other, both new and not so new to the College. While some parents might think this is not so important, it ultimately helps your children to settle into the year, knowing that parents are connecting with their teachers, other parents and their world. Our plan for 2021 is to provide more of these events, particularly focusing on enabling parents to meet with other parents in similar year levels. There is such strong evidence to support the fact that when parents know the other parents of the children in the class or year level, then the capacity to feel supported during some of those more challenging times is increased. The College is part of the journey with you, but so are other parents, they can be so helpful at times when you need to connect with someone else whose children are going through the same developmental stage as yours. Part of our strategic focus on building connections will hopefully see us facilitate these events. As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village!’. For parents who are not new to the College please remember what it is like to always be new to every occasion and how much like hard work this can be, so extend a friendly welcome wherever possible to newcomers to our College community. Please do keep an eye out for coffee catch ups, class play dates and an end of term Sunset Sips and lock in the dates.
At the same time, we are looking at re-launching our parent’s connection opportunities through what are calling Parent Ambassador Program. Please consider volunteering for this in the coming weeks as we look to utilise the knowledge and enthusiasm of our current parents to help with setting up an event or two for your other class or year group parents. Their first priority will be to help connect with new families.
We are also hosting a business networking function this term which we hope will become a more regular event. The purpose is two-fold. Firstly, to enable parents to link in and understand the sorts of opportunities available within our parent community. Secondly, to see if there are ways in which our parents can add value to the opportunities here at the College for our students. We know our Senior students genuinely appreciate hearing from people with ‘real-world’ experience so we would be looking to connect with parents who may be able to assist us with our Pathways program which supports students from Years 9 to 12. It’s just an hour or two of your time building into the next generation with sharing your expertise.
Learning in Action
In my previous article, I mentioned our Learning in Action Framework. Our first pillar goes to the heart of learning and that is the pillar that asks our students to be engaged, by having a positive attitude, by being focused, by knowing what they are learning and by asking questions, listening, getting involved and being an active rather than a passive learner. As parents, we often need to assist in this part of the learning journey. For example, ask your child, ‘do you turn up to class ready to listen and learn?‘ To explain this further, are they ready to ask questions, to listen fully, and to get involved in the dynamics of the classroom?
Just as importantly, does your child know WHAT they are learning, if you asked them what they did in Mathematics that day, you would hope that they would be able to answer with more than, ‘We did page 52, Exercise 14 and 15’! Rather, they would know or attempt to explain the learning intention of the teacher. If your child is focused on their lessons, they should be able to tell you what they learned today – ‘nothing’ is never going to be a satisfactory answer. It’s about finding ways to encourage your child to review the lesson in their head and try to tell you something about what they remember or learnt. This reinforces the learning pathway, by explaining it to someone else after it has been explained or taught to them.
We want our students to go home at the end of their school day bursting with stories and entertain the family with what they have experienced that day- and hopefully something they have learned! In that way, you will know that they have been truly engaged in learning. Just as we ask our students to be engaged, we also ask our teachers to be engaging and inspiring and this is one of the equivalent pillars of their teaching and learning framework which sits alongside our students’ Learning in Action framework. So at the same time as you ask the questions posed above, from time to time ask your children, does your teacher tell you what you will be learning, as well as what you will be doing? Is your teacher excited and passionate about their subject? Is your teacher challenging your thinking? Are they encouraging you to be creative in thinking and problem-solving? Most importantly, we need to entrust the student with the responsibility of owning their learning journey, knowing that every teacher does have a different personality, which can take a bit of time to settle in to, so the learning journey for each and every student is going to be different but always moving forward in their learning.
A student who is engaged and a teacher who is engaging is a powerful combination, whether it is learning a new mathematical concept, discussing an historical revelation, or learning to read for the very first time. As St Andrew’s parents, we also ask you to be engaged; engaged in your child’s learning journey. This will understandably look different if your child is in Prep to if your child is in Year 9 or Year 12. If you have questions about your child’s level of ongoing level of enthusiasm and motivation, please contact your child’s teacher or Head of Year; that way we can ask the right questions and assist both our students and our teachers to perform to their personal capacity.
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