Connecting parents to learning

I hope the year has begun well for your family and that everyone is settling into the school year. I particularly welcome those families that are new to Carey. Middle School is a place where long-lasting connections and friendships are made and so it has been important to see the return of our busy program and special events.

The APS summer season has been setting Bulleen alive, the many bands and orchestras are a joy to hear and students are getting ready to audition for our musical, Strictly Ballroom. The launch of the Carey Community Groups (Environment, Social Justice, Pride and Gender Equity) is an exciting initiative in bringing students together to explore issues. We have also seen Year 7s heading off to Toona and enjoying their afternoon of Online Connected Learning. There has also been an International Women’s Day assembly, House Swimming, some House Chapels, Summer Sports Day and lots more!

Of course, feeling connected in the classroom is of critical importance too. Subject teachers have been working hard to make students feel safe and ready to learn in the classroom. Remembering names and learning styles, having informal ‘get to know you’ chats and establishing classroom routines, are all important strategies. Teachers have also been getting to know the learning needs of their students and are aiming to reach that delicate balance between providing sufficient challenge to provoke thought and growth but not too much to undermine confidence.

At this stage of the term, you may hear the words ‘Assessment Task’ being mentioned. In Middle School, there are both Summative and Formative tasks. Formative tasks are completed along the learning journey and help students establish ‘next steps’. They may be a quiz, a short paragraph, a Kahoot or even a mind-map. Summative tasks are generally at the end of the unit and are more likely to be an essay or a test. They represent a summation of the learning achieved by the student. Summative tasks are the ones that you may hear about as the due date nears, but really, these are no more important than the formative tasks which unpack misconceptions and allow for increased learning through the drafting and discussion process. Our wonderful Canvas system allows parents and students to be connected to all learning activities. You can see all task details on the Assignment tab in each student’s course. Grades and feedback are also easily accessible by using the Marks tab. You can expect feedback to be available about two weeks after the submission date.

Parents can also stay connected and informed on their child’s learning through our formal reporting structures. Each semester, we cycle through Interim reports, Interviews and the Semester report. Interim reports are based on observation of student learning behaviours. These will be available on Friday 19 March in Canvas.

The link to the Parent Student Teacher Interview portal will be sent later this week and all interviews will be completed this term. There is always much discussion in my house about how many interviews to request. We have tried various methods. One year, we met with the ‘problem’ areas, but that ended up being a bit too confronting. We rebounded by meeting the teachers of the ‘favourite’ subjects: we all had a good evening but on reflection, we didn’t learn much. We have also tried meeting with every teacher but found that was information overload. We now talk with our children before requesting any interviews. We discuss what they have been learning, what strategies have been working, how relationships have been developing, and what feedback has been provided. We then choose to meet the teachers with whom we feel we can work together with to help our child grow. Of course, you can always request an interview to simply put a name to a face!

The new school year always brings challenges as students, teachers and parents transition into new subjects and year levels. Please feel free to contact me if I can help in any way with your child’s learning.

Meredith Plaisted
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Learning

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