From the Head of Middle School

Rest, rejuvenation, reflection, rejoice and results
I hope everyone had an opportunity for some rest, rejuvenation and reflection over the holidays or, at very least, a change of pace. Having time and space to stop and take stock of how things are travelling is such an important skill, and often under used. Ideally the break time provides families with a chance to have a conversation about the Semester 1 summative report that was sent home. Having calm and meaningful conversations about learning encourages students to think about their own learning and challenges them to articulate how they feel they have gone, and then identify strengths and growth points. Once a review of past learning has been completed, kids can start to think about what their next steps might be, how they are going to proceed with those next steps, how they are going to know they have achieved success, what they need more help to understand, and how they might achieve their learning goals.

Although the ‘Habits of Mind’ concepts have been around for a while, they can still be a really good reference point for reflecting on your ‘Semester 1 feedback’, and framing some areas on which you can improve. Analysing your ability to display persistence, managing impulsivity, listening with empathy and understanding, thinking flexibly, thinking about thinking, striving for accuracy and precision, questioning, applying past knowledge, communicating with clarity, gathering data, creating and innovating, taking responsible learning risks, thinking independently, and remaining open to continuous learning can assist in developing a wonderful Semester 2 mindset. Most of us could find a few things in that list that would be a great starting point for some simply goals for the rest of the year.

It is no secret that students learn best when they self-regulate – i.e. set their own academic goals, develop strategies to meet them, and reflect on their academic performance. High-achieving students know what needs to be done and how to get it done. At the core of self-regulation, students need strategies to manage cognition, but motivation is often the missing variable – you need the ‘will’ as well as the ‘skill’.

It is helpful to think of self-regulation in three phases:

  • Forethought. Students set short-term, challenging but attainable academic goals. They also estimate their ability to reach those goals.
  • Performance. Students adopt powerful learning strategies, such as scheduling study time, using mnemonics and outlining course content.
  • Self-reflection. Students evaluate how effectively their strategies help them meet their academic goals and adjust strategies accordingly.

Mentors will discuss the Semester 1 results with students to plan learning goals over the next couple of weeks.

Over the next couple of weeks students will be briefed about their subject selections for 2016. The Year 10 2016 Information Evening will have provided Year 9 students with an important overview and Heads of House, Mentors and Senior Curriculum Leaders from Senior School will be able to provide sound advice and discuss options for 2016 in the coming weeks. Pathways@Carey is available on our Carey website and student login details for subject selection will be emailed out shortly. Please note that the due date for online selections for all year levels is Thursday 4 August. As this falls during the Year 8 program, families will need to be particularly vigilant to ensure that the discussions about selections have taken place and that the deadline is met. House Mentors must sign off on selections before they are handed in. It will be important to do this while students are on campus for the Human Rights Convention.

We wish Year 8 students and our staff all the best as they head off on the Challenge and Choice program to Hattah, Rural, and the Human Rights Convention over the next three weeks. Your households will be a little quieter, but you can expect some great stories when students return from their real world experiences.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School