2 December 2020

Success – allusive, difficult to define – but possible

Heads of SchoolMiddle School
Success – allusive, difficult to define – but possible
Success – allusive, difficult to define – but possible
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‘The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.’ – Michelangelo

At the end of such an unusual and challenging year, we have an opportunity to reflect on what we may have learnt from the experience of 2020. Many of us are just happy that we have made it through!

Learning comes in many forms and, for most of us, because we juggled many things at once and were impacted on so many levels, we found learning and success a bit allusive this year. There does seem, however, to be a collection of characteristics we see in students that lead to successful learning outcomes ­– especially in a COVID-19 impacted year. Cultivating them in the learning community is a big part of what schools endeavour to do.

Successful kids reflect the following characteristics:

  • Commitment – students who are dedicated to being the best they can be, setting some achievable and realistic goals and working carefully and proactively towards them.
  • Self-Belief – realistic inner self-belief is a wonderful trait to foster in young people. We as parents and teachers should talk a lot about a cultivating a sense of hope and optimism.
  • Consistency – the idea that to persist and persevere until a task is completed is a massive challenge for many people. The more we can support kids with strategies to plan, organise and develop a work ethic the better.
  • Individual responsibility – kids who know that it is the result of their actions that governs their success tend to be champions of their own destiny. Proactively accessing the requisite resources, for example, is a great quality to foster as you move through school.
  • Courage – getting better at something and ultimately achieving success often requires a risk. Being happy to fail a few times in order to grow is wonderful strength for students to develop.
  • Leadership – leading oneself and others in the pursuit of a goal is a terrific skill, an empowering experience and, importantly, can be achieved without a School Leader badge.

Achieving success consistently is no accident and the ability to be resilient is something that we learn when we reflect on how we handle adversity. Resilience and success are the end result of an ongoing commitment to the pursuit of a goal – studies indicate that a calm, sustained and sequential approach yields the best results. As students reflect back over the past year in all areas of their 2020 experience – socially, academically and as a family – it is worth some discussion around which characteristic could be growth points for next year and which characteristics are already well honed and polished.

I have had a few discussions with the Year 9s over the past couple of weeks during their C-Change Challenge week, Outdoor Education experiences and Civics program. I outlined the importance for them individually and collectively continuing to develop their own moral compasses as they hit the threshold of adulthood and are exposed to the challenges of social activities, moving into Senior School and an increasingly connected social world. I hope this year has been a catalyst for some rich conversations at home and that we will ultimately help our young people to grow from adversity and help them develop the complex social skills of adulthood. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. I hope that 2020 has created a portal through which we can develop a refreshed outlook for next year and, as we celebrate together over the summer, families can see all that we gained as well as that was lost throughout 2020.

The last week or so has been very busy and engaging for the students as we have pivoted many of our normal Term 4 activities and events to ensure that students have a rich end to the year. Our Year 7s enjoyed both our STEAM challenge of building a solar car and immersing themselves in their maths day as well as spending some time outdoors, our Year 8s have spent time looking at geology and erosion as they hiked down at Cape Schanck and were immersed in collaboration activities that helped develop leadership and communication skills and our Year 9s have completed a wonderful modified version of their normal end-of-year program. As we have continued to enjoy being back at school, it has been wonderful to be able to build these things into the program as a powerful way of ensuring students have the diversity of learning that they need to grow as ‘whole people’.

On Monday 7 December, all Middle School students will take part in a Summer Sports day and then on Tuesday, we will finish the year with a Year 9 assembly and House celebrations – please note on Tuesday Year 9s arrive and 9.00am and Year 7s and 8s at 10.00am, with all finishing at 11.45am. We wish everyone a wonderful holiday and a special Christmas with family and friends.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School


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