It is fabulous to see Middle School students back on campus! While we have been very impressed with the way most students embraced learning online, it is great to see the students back where they belong. The smiles on their faces as they see each other and their energy and positivity as they rush off to class says that they are feeling good about ‘being back home’.
And of course, what a home they now have! The new Middle School building is a delight. Huge glass panels and “walls” of fine wire allow light to flood in from all directions. The classroom doors slide open to create large flexible learning spaces, and the central atrium seemingly brings the outside in.
Our new Centre for Creativity and Collaboration will allow students to experience a greater range of learning opportunities. The paired classrooms will be wonderful for team-teaching where groups of students will be able to work through different stations and be assisted by a number of teachers. The break-out spaces will allow small groups to collaborate on tasks, harnessing the independence that many have developed while studying online. There are quiet spaces where students might get in the zone to solve a problem their way, without being influenced by others’ ideas. The campfire spaces will allow for important group discussions, reflections and critiques and the performance staircases will allow for the sharing of projects and the delivery of peer feedback. And there is so much more to be excited about, like the art and maker spaces where design thinkers and makers can tinker and prototype and the green screens for video making.
All these opportunities will give students more ownership of their learning and create deeper thinking. Students will have the flexibility to learn in their own way in their own time. Those who are ready can be more independent and those who love collaborating will find a space to experience the sheer joy of working together. We are all going to be very privileged to teach and learn in these wonderful open, flexible spaces.
Of course, the student perspective is always important to hear, so Year 9 student Katy has written for us her first impressions of the new Middle School building in this newsletter as well!
However, buildings, no matter how wonderful, do not replace the importance of the real-world learning. Central to the Carey Middle School program is the opportunity for our students to get out and about and to learn directly from experts. This program has been disrupted by our period of online learning and we are working hard on returning to many of our interdisciplinary and experiential programs. Next week, all Year 7 students will be involved in the Enterprise week where students will be challenged to design a social enterprise that supports the local community. Year 8s will engage in the Human Rights Convention early next term, and hopefully by then we will also be able to return to our regular excursions program.
Believe it or not, Subject Preferences for 2021 are due on Thursday 30 July. We will start Term 3 with year level briefings to ensure that all students are aware of the exciting range of electives and core enrichment subjects. I will be encouraging students to be open-minded in their choices and avoid stereotypes. Creative Silicon Chips, Fashion, Writing Wizardry, Law and Order… the list goes on! It’s all about trying something new, planning your own adventure and being open to surprising yourself by enjoying something unexpected.
We are indeed open for business and excited about the learning ahead.
With best wishes,
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Learning