The last of student led conferences tonight, where students of St Lukes reflect upon the work that they’ve done in their core classes, but relate them to how they work within our pillars. Essentially, how they witness in the way of Christ, relate to others, manage themselves, think, inquire and create. They use evidence of work that they’ve done in class to support their achievement of these pillars.
Having a conversation with some of the staff afterwards, what really struck me is the amount of love that our families have for their kids. Of course they all want to do their kids to do their best, but they’re also proud of the students ability to stand there and present for 20 minutes about their chosen topic. To be honest, I’m proud. And so are our teachers.
I’m proud that a student can stand there and say “I want to improve my focus by sitting away from people that distract me” or “I want to focus on improving my work by adding detail because I’m a tick box person and try and get it done”.
Each year I’ve done this I pick a few student interviews to sit in on. Some of these are students (or parents) that have flagged for some reason (good or bad), some are to make sure that the first year teacher isn’t left to interview for the first time by themselves. And some I actually just enjoy seeing the parents (#favouriteparents). I’ve then, unbeknownst to both student and teacher, keep checking in with this student’s student led over the (“vast”) history of our school. Students are surprised when I turn up (again). As are students that are my new “drop ins” that I will see the next year.
This is what I really love about my job though….the ability to see student growth. And what better time. It’s almost like the joy that you see in airport reunions. The joy and pride that you see in both parents and students…there’s a whole lot of love in those rooms.
Sitting having coffee with our head of mission on the way home (Starbucks is on our side), we chatted about where we’ve seen this before.
For me, major works night where a student who’s not been successful in any schooling in their life suddenly creates a beautifully crafted piece of work, and stands proudly by it while their friends ooo and ahhh, and parents snap photos. For Julie, similarly, seeing kids achieving in practical subjects like cooking….where kids who find their joy in places like this shine.
For the kid in stage 2, who loves electric cars….he’s an industrial technology student hoping to survive school to make it through to where he can do industrial tech. And the kid in stage 3, that is an amazing artist and loves to draw.
This is what I love seeing. Joy that they’ve done something well. The first principal I ever worked for used to call year 12 kids in and tell them their grandparents wouldn’t care if the band 6 that they got their mention of in the paper for was construction. They care about the fact their grandsons name was in the paper.
This is what makes me makes me a bit sad when we talk about “other klas”.
Yes, literacy and numeracy are foundational and are essentials in learning.
But, to loosely quote Robin Williams, art, music, dance, this is what we live for. This is what we write and read about.
And for some of our kids, this is what they drag their bodies through school for. To once a week learn about torture in medieval Europe (HSIE excursion today), or to work in the makerspace to laser cut or just to even sand timber for an hour.
How can we tap into this excitement for learning in science and music to encourage kids to write?
We can start by figuring out what to call them other than “other klas” because honestly, every time I hear the term, I read the word “unimportant” in the middle of them. “Other unimportant klas”. And for those kids whose love of music, art, science, technology, HSIE or PDHPE, what kind of message are you sending to that student? That where they find their joy is “unimportant”. That it’s less.
And because every time we say “other klas” they are the time that gets interrupted. It’s the time when we put on assemblies and masses, when we have excursions and carnivals. Because they’re the “other klas”
Remember: this is what we live for. This is what we read and write about. Let’s start bringing that message to our students.