From the Head of Middle School

Celebrating the ‘little wins’

Fostering a love of learning and life is a key part of an educational journey. Nearing the completion of Term 3, students are faced with a myriad of competing tasks, pieces of advice, experiences and demands. Summative work requirements are frantically being completed for the end of term, Houses are getting ready for the Athletic Sports Day, the sun is beginning to shine, our slightly dormant social lives are starting to blossom with extended days and the anticipation of Spring, the plans for the holidays are beginning to develop momentum, and energy levels are slowly returning after a Winter of colds and flus.

Traditionally, the end of Term 3 and the beginning of Term 4 is a flurry of activity, and it is a great time for students to be supported in developing some strategies around organisation, prioritising, and putting things into perspective. Proactively helping students take control and stock of the competing demands will hopefully allow then to better handle the pressure, improve outcomes, and ensure that there is a little room in each day for joy. Strategies such as list making, making an evening and weekend timetable, and reflecting on each day’s successes are all ways that families can help in avoiding the stress at this busy time of the year.

I am constantly encouraged by the goodwill in Middle School. It is living proof that when students are supported systematically, calmly and with a great sense of perspective they absolutely thrive. If students are finding it difficult or presenting at home with a diminishing sense of enthusiasm or joy, it is really helpful if you can share this with either the mentor or the Head of House, as often it is difficult to intervene when students are struggling right at the end of the year. As parents and educators it is how we make a student ‘feel’ rather than ‘what we did or said’ that impacts their personal growth – if we can help students feel supported, calm, joyous, happy, and in control, this will go a long way to allowing them to find a sense of resilience and success.

Over the next couple of weeks, another stressful and complex process is the appointment of students for our Exchange program, Robinson River and Middle School leadership. This can be a really stressful and disappointing time for some students. Students and families choose to pursue experiences and leadership roles for many different reasons, and also add widely differing levels of gravity on the success of achieving these roles. I have spoken to a lot of Year 8s both individually and collectively about my strong belief that you can lead incredibly well without a badge in Middle School, and that there are a huge variety of other opportunities for diverse experiences at Carey. Thankfully this message has resonated really well with the cohort, and I am hoping that as roles are allocated and students miss out they can reflect and make commitments to leading despite not having an official role. I encourage families to work with students to focus on the journey of leadership aspiration and not the destination, although difficult to accept we know when we take the emotion out of the equation we learn a great deal more from how we handle disappointment than we do success.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School