From the Head of Middle School

Those who care to learn will always find a teacher
As we move through the assessment period of first semester, it is interesting to note the amount of students who forget the power of positivity in building success. Most students (and sometime adults) focus on the end result and miss the importance of the journey, and then also miss the reflection opportunity of the result – positive or negative. We can help adolescents to develop a sense of personal academic achievement by focussing on the big picture and personal growth goals, rather than simply performance goals. When we encourage students to recognise their own improvements and mastery, we help them to consider their fortune in terms of their own efforts, thus establishing an internal locus of control.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the first term and a half of my new role has been the time spent talking with students, staff and parents about their journeys and hearing their stories, wisdom and passion for life. What is often evident is that the more ‘positive people’ display much greater resilience in the face of disappointing news or challenging situations; be it missing out on something, receiving a poor grade, getting tired and stressed, or having a negative friendship issue.

As I have mentioned before, parents, siblings, teachers and peers all play a massive role in helping students build positivity, but most of the grunt work needs to come from the individual. The more we can encourage young people to take responsibility for their own journeys and let them solve problems, deal with disappointment and allow for reflection from failure, the better. If we step in every time something doesn’t go to plan, we don’t allow them the chance to grow and build strategies to cope for themselves.

A really powerful way we can help our kids is supporting them to make multiple connections with a variety of peers and adults, creating and fostering lots of relationships (offline as well as online) in different settings. This allows students the opportunity to see the world from multiple standpoints. We can also help kids to feel a sense of positive self-concept, by providing a broad range of experiences where they can discover which things come easily, and which things require much more effort.

A beautiful example of the power of creating different learning opportunities was last week’s wonderful Carey Celebrates Literature festival which included a massive range of learning opportunities. There was the empowering and delightful Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa who took us all to a place of deep personal and societal reflection and mirth – encouraging us to be the ‘carnival of the bold’. There was Michael Camilleri and David Metzentehn’s coming together to make something much greater than its two halves. There was the humanity or hilarity of what it is to be vulnerable with Gabrielle Tozer – linking us all to the creative possibility that grows from a ‘feeling’ (even embarrassment). And there was understanding the complexity of adolescence, being male, being Australian, and family with Michael Hyde.

The Carey learning journey in Middle School is purposefully challenging, varied, fun and complex, and provides so many opportunities for growth. The secret is trying to get the most out of all the opportunities, as Philip succinctly challenges our students at the start of ever year: ‘be respectful of yourself and all those around you’, ‘do your best’, and ‘take every opportunity presented’.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School