As we start the second week of the school year, it is now time to start making sure that the young men are starting to develop routines that support their learning. In the younger grades of Years 5, 6 & 7 I appreciate that there will still be much energy and anxiety around knowing the school routines and reforming or making new friendships. This concern should never be underestimated and I would encourage all parents/carers of the young men in these grades to spend some time in discussing how they are feeling about being at school. This is particularly important for...
As we start the second week of the school year, it is now time to start making sure that the young men are starting to develop routines that support their learning. In the younger grades of Years 5, 6 & 7 I appreciate that there will still be much energy and anxiety around knowing the school routines and reforming or making new friendships. This concern should never be underestimated and I would encourage all parents/carers of the young men in these grades to spend some time in discussing how they are feeling about being at school. This is particularly important for students who are new to the College. If you have any concerns from these conversations, please do not hesitate to contact your son’s House Dean or other relevant staff member. It is important to us that they feel a part of this College community and not feel isolated or alone.
I have been particularly impressed with the job that the Year 12 “Big Brothers” have done so far. They have certainly worked hard to make sure that all of the new students have felt welcomed and comfortable at St Patrick’s. I am sure that this relationship with the younger students will blossom as the year continues.
I mentioned in last week’s edition that during staff week the teaching staff undertook a workshop on developing a growth mindset. The information was relevant to each of us personally and also because it assists us to work with our young men and help them also develop a growth mindset for themselves. During his presentation, Luke McKenna identified three inhibitors to a growth mindset. These were: (1) A belief that our talents and intelligence are fixed traits, (2) A lowered resilience in the face of setbacks and reduced recognition of persistent, focussed effort and (3) Student stress, anxiety, depression and general lack of mental health.
In this week’s article, I would like to review the first of these inhibitors. As adults, we approach most problems from an experienced world view and a “tool-kit” to solve problems. We understand that there can be more ways than one to address an issue and reach a solution. Our young men do not have that experience and start with a limited world view and “tool-kit”. Often this means that they may not be equipped to solve a problem or only know of limited ways to do so and if they do not work, they have no alternatives. They need to be shown other ways of doing things. This will require persistence and added effort. A fixed mindset simply directs a young man to say this is too hard, I cannot do it.
The addition of one simple word onto the end of that statement makes all of the difference to this mindset. “This is too hard, I cannot do it yet.” The implication is that he will get to deal with a challenge or solve the problem, it just requires more persistence, effort and possible different ways of thinking. Students who develop fixed mindsets can develop characteristics such as ….
- An unwillingness to consider changing their skills to work at new challenges or situations;
- Avoiding situations/challenges or feeling overwhelmed by them;
- Not understanding that effort is linked to trying to solving challenges not just natural ability. This can lead them to think that they are not good enough;
- Becoming defensive to feedback;
- Blaming others and believing that it is not their fault when they face setbacks which can lead to becoming very easily discourage to attempt things.
Mc Kenna suggests that students who develop a growth mindset portray the following understandings:
- They can always improve their skills and that this comes from increased effort;
- Their attitude allows them to embrace challenges seeing them as an opportunity for change;
- Dealing with challenges or problems requires persistence;
- Effort is essential to further improvement and mastery;
- Feedback is welcomed, essential, useful and a positive thing to accomplish improvement;
- Setbacks are a normal part of life and an opportunity to learn and can be a focus for making change.
The implication for teachers and parents/carers is to create environments around our young men that encourage a growth mindset. However setting up this environment is not good enough unless it is complimented with language and actions that encourage students to have a positive attitude to challenges, persistence to see the job done and challenge met and an understanding that persistence requires greater effort.
In his presentation to staff, McKenna spoke strongly about avoiding statements such as “you have done well, you must be really smart.” His point was that students may perceive this as they have a natural intelligence and could be possibly “flattened” if their next results are not as strong. He proposed using language around connecting good achievement to good effort. So the statement changes to “you have done well, you must have worked really hard at that, that’s a great effort.”
It is our intention as a College to develop skills as teachers to encourage a growth mindset amongst our students. This will occur through some organisational changes such as group tutors working with students to set targets and discuss their report outcomes, through to the type of language that we use in the classroom and in formal gatherings such as assemblies etc. I would also encourage all parents/carers to consider these concepts as well. It will mean in some cases, that the young men will need to be given a little more independence in their own learning and encouragement to accept responsibility for their own actions as well and to work with you to plan on how to deal with challenges and setbacks rather than expect you to do this for them.
We commence our first round of AIC sporting fixtures this weekend. Our Cricket and Volleyball teams compete against Villanova College and our swimming team competes against St Pater’s Lutheran College, St Laurence’s College and Iona College at St Peter’s. Congratulations to Pearson Locke (cricket) and Brock McLean (volleyball) for their selection as captain for their particular sports. Both young men have displayed a great work ethic, effort and leadership skills leading into the season. I am very confident that both will do a great job in leading the cricket and volleyball players throughout the season.
The AIC season commenced with an Ecumenical service and leadership workshop for some of our students today.
Thank you to the many parents and students who attended the House BBQs and Years 5, 6 and 7 Information night on Monday evening. Also to the parents/carers of the Year 9 students in attending the Rite Journey information session on Monday. On Wednesday evening, many of our Year 11 students and parents/carers attended their Information session. We will endeavour to have the presentations available to parents. Mrs Jackie Upton will communicate this to parents when it is available. I hope that the evenings were relevant and useful to you and I would encourage any feedback to be forwarded either to Mrs Upton or myself.
I look forward to meeting with the Year 10 and 12 students and parents/carers next week.