Principal's Blog - 22 February 2018

19 Feb 2018

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

Rituals and symbols are valuable and useful instruments which provide meaning and understanding of significant events in our lives. They are particularly important elements when attempting to understand and experience significant religious events and concepts. In our shared Catholic tradition, we have many religious rituals and symbols which assist us to commemorate and better understand significant times in our Churches’ year.

At Marcellin last week our community came together to remember one such time in our Church calendar, the season of Lent. I was particularly impressed with the way our boys and staff approached this important and slightly confronting ritual. After all, the placing of ashes on our forehead could feel a bit invasive and unnatural. Some people are even inclined to rub them off before they go out in public as they can feel a little self-conscious. This did not appear to be the case with our boys and staff, most of whom I noticed retained the ashes throughout the day. The ashes themselves are there to remind us that we are all human and therefore we make mistakes requiring us to repent/make good on the errors we make in our lives, particularly those which impact negatively on the lives of others.

Repentance is not an easy concept to put into practice. Our Lenten tradition provides us with a few practical ways that we can make things right with our neighbour and with God. Prayer, Abstinence and Almsgiving are traditionally three ways that we can prepare ourselves for the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Recently, our great Pope Francis provided a simple yet powerful understanding of the value and meaning of each of these actions.

Pope Francis calls the Lenten practices of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting a “soothing remedy”. Prayer allows us to eradicate “secret lies” and “self-deception,” and we find “the consolation God offers,” he says. Almsgiving frees us from greed; it helps us regard others as brothers and sisters. “How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us!” he says. Fasting “weakens our tendency to violence” reviving “our desire to obey God,” who alone can satisfy our hunger.

Perhaps this Lent each of us could take the time to practice each of these virtues in our own way. In doing so we might make our part of the world a better place and perhaps even come a bit closer to God.

Learning at Marcellin
I am constantly encouraged by and in awe of the staff of our College who devote themselves to providing the most effective and productive learning environment they can to improve the outcomes of our students. So much of this work and cutting edge innovation goes largely unnoticed. Throughout this year I will endeavour to present you with a snapshot of some of these learning initiatives and the value they bring to the learning of your sons.

One such initiative is an increasing focus on the use of student educational data as a tool to better know our students and equally importantly to inform our practice. At Marcellin we speak about the importance of knowing our students. From a pastoral perspective I believe we do this extremely well. From a learning perspective, data can provide a rich source of information which can help to understand the unique background, strengths and challenges of each of our students as learners. A knowledge of student data assists not only teachers to know where our boys need extra support, but it can assist parents to know what actions they can take to support their child. Additionally, it can assist the students to better understand their own strengths and challenges. For data to be most effective, the focus needs to shift from purely its collection to prioritising its effective use by teachers and educational leaders.

At the end of 2017, the College invested time throughout our Professional Learning schedule to engage in a better understanding of the value of student data. The challenge presented to us as educators is to develop strategies to use such data to inform our teaching and discuss areas we could focus on to best support students with their studies.

At the commencement of this year our College leadership group spent time with Carmel Richardson, an expert in data analysis, who walked us through the Colleges’ VCE data to provide us with a better understanding of student performance and teacher practice. At our first staff professional learning day, Carmel led the entire staff through this same information and provided them with an opportunity to engage in conversations about how best to use this data to inform their practice.

In 2018 our we will further engage in this environment through initiatives such as Data Driven Dialogue led by our Assistant Principal (Learning), Andrew Bryson and other Professional Learning opportunities led by  Joshua Di Pietro, Director of Learning and our senior learning leaders and their teams. Throughout term 1 we will also be engaging with VCE students about how best to use their data to better understand themselves as learners.

North East Link
In December last year I met with the Matthew Guy (Leader of the State Opposition) and Michael O’Brien (Shadow Treasurer) to discuss their view regarding the North East Link Project. Mr. Guy stated that he did not support option A and believed that option C provided a more wholistic response. Mr. Guy said that he would assist Marcellin by being a voice for our concerns in State parliament. As I pointed out to Mr. Guy in our meeting, the College would always remain neutral regarding political matters. However, we would support any platform which provided a positive outcome for Marcellin College. 

Throughout 2018, the East Link Authority will hold community consultation workshops. If you are interested in attending please see the following website.

Mark Murphy