Principal's Blog - 1 March 2019

25 Feb 2019

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

I often wonder how many people I encounter in our College every day. When I walk through the yard on the way to meet someone or wander down a corridor, or into the staffroom or classroom, I interact with a lot of people. I try to make sure that every person I pass along the way is given a “Hi, how are you going?”. In doing so I believe I am making a connection with each person with whom I cross paths. However, in thinking this way I am probably kidding myself a bit. Is there any real value in this brief encounter? Sure, it is polite and perhaps even a social norm, however, what benefit do we really derive from this interaction? To authentically connect with people, we need to interact on a deeper level. We need to ask questions which allows us to know the person and their interests, beliefs and passions.

It is the same in the classroom. As teachers, our primary objective is to connect our young men to learning. Some people believe that it is enough that we provide them with information, to fill their heads with knowledge. Perhaps there was a time in some byegone era where this was enough. However, in a rapidly changing world where technology, globalisation, the changing nature of the workplace amongst other things are part of our new reality, this approach to classroom practice has gone the way of the Dodo.

In a recent article from The Australian Society for Evidence Based Teaching entitled 'What Everyone Needs to Know About High-Performance, Teacher Student Relationships', the writers suggest that the more encouraging, constructive and productive the relationship between teacher and student is, the more positive and lasting the impact is for the student. The great educational theorist John Hattie hangs much of his research on student achievement on this idea. He says…

It is teachers who have created positive teacher student relationships that are more likely to have the above average effects on student achievement.
John Hattie

It really isn’t rocket science! Just think for a moment about the teachers who made the greatest positive impact on you as a student. They would generally have been those who did more than ask you, "How are a you going?". They would have taken an active interest in you. More than this they would have done their homework on you as a student. Knowing your capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, preferred learning styles, etc.

Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Adapted from Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt was obviously a man ahead of his time. As educators we recognise that showing our students that we genuinely care about them is one of the keys to supporting them in reaching their potential in the classroom.

It is not enough however just to build sound positive relationships with students, we also need to let them know that we believe in their capability to achieve success and then press them to do so.

This is not only our educational purpose but our Christian obligation. Jesus himself speaks about coming so that we may have life to the full. He also speaks of the need to treat each person as a child of God. Our Marist Educational Philosophy also challenges us to place our students at the centre of our concerns.

Following Marcellin, we encourage them always to strive to improve, to give the best of themselves and we communicate our belief in their potential for growth and achievement.
From In the footsteps of Champagnat

I present these educational thoughts to you as an example of foundational philosophy of Polaris which will begin implementation in 2020.

Much of the motivation for this new learning program is predicated on the development of strong student teacher relationships and collective teacher efficacy.

Shortly you will receive a document which will provide greater detail about Polaris. I look forward to engaging with you about this exciting program in the months ahead.

Mark Murphy