Director of Boarding
In this week’s newsletter I thought I would write about each of the boarding houses – Girls, Junior Boys and Senior Boys – from the point of view of the Director of Boarding.
The senior boys have taken on the new prep procedures very well and the academic rigor during prep has been increasing as the term has progressed. During the prep time, the boys are seated in a specially set up section of the Resource Centre where they work in desks separated from their neighbour by a partition and the staff supervising can see their screens at all times. The boys do not have earphones or phones and the academic staff member on duty can work with individuals as the need arises. The boys also, at times, withdraw to another section of the library to work with another student to help clarify a point or receive peer tutoring. I will be analysing the data from reports as they are written for Term 3 and, although it is early days, I am hoping to see the new rigor reflected in improved marks for these boys. I will continue to monitor this and mentor individual boys if this is not happening and give encouragement to those whose results are on the rise.
I am asking the senior boys to improve the overall tidiness of their rooms in the boarding house. The areas which require the most focus are the regular putting in of laundry and the presentation of their beds. As parents, could you please ensure that your child has two sets of sheets for their beds as well as a mattress protector and quilt cover. This aspect of boarding life has improved over this year but, just like at home, teenage boys need constant reminders to change their sheets and ensure the dirty clothes are not mixed with the clean in their cupboards.
The senior boys, like all other sections of the College, have a very busy co-curricular load and there is a trend within this boarding house to spend time at the gym and other sporting pursuits. This is excellent and to be applauded but I would like to encourage the boys to be more mindful of what they are eating and drinking if they are to supplement this gym time with a healthy diet. The meals on offer in the dining room are nutritional and inviting but, at times, the boys will fill up on KFC or pizza beforehand. This is particularly true of weekends and I would encourage this practice to be on the rare occasions and not regular.
I have introduced a new system within this boarding house of weekly inspections of each boy’s area (including cupboards) and give them a rating from 1 – 10. There is a reward when boys receive a 10 and a penalty when the rating is 5 or less. To date, no junior boy has received less than a 6 and many of them have received a perfect 10. In fact, the junior boys’ boarding house is the neatest house on a regular basis. These boys also do an excellent job of ensuring their laundry is out on a Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday night and the smooth bagging up of the laundry by whoever is on the roster is a sight to behold. Well done boys, Mr Bailey, Mr Gleeson and Ms Stewart.
The junior boys really enjoyed the basketball competition which was held last Saturday night in the gym. Most of them had been playing rugby during the day but they played with enthusiasm and good sportsmanship throughout the evening. It was great to see some boys who do not usually participate in sport joining in with their team and having a great time.
The area I would like to continually work with the junior boys with is their reliance on technology to fill in their time when an organised activity is not on offer. The Xbox, computers and phones are used extensively and next year there will be some periods of time during the weekend which will be technology free. At times, within this boarding house, there are outside activities which become the ‘things to do’ eg riding bikes or fishing but, at present, the trend is to play computer games or watch movies. There needs to be a balance and this is the challenge for these boys as we move into 4th term.
The girls’ boarding house is such a busy place with girls coming and going for outside College activities as well as co-curricular commitments. It is wonderful to take stock of the wide diversity of the activities that are going on – debating, German lessons, swimming, all manner of sport and sport training, horse riding, Equestrian, tutoring, park run, gym – the list goes on and on. When this is added to the social aspects of the girls’ lives and, most importantly, their academic commitments it is obvious that, as a boarding staff, we must keep an eye on everyone to ensure they have a balance in their lives as well. It is so wonderful to see, especially on a Saturday or Sunday, groups of girls sitting around playing cards, doing hair styles, or just chatting and laughing together. Sometimes they wander off and grab a basketball or go for a run or just sit in the sun.
We have such a wide range of girls from such different backgrounds and, because we have students from Yr 6 through to 12 together, there is a lot of mentoring and big sister relationships become very important to both the younger and older girls. I listened the other night as an older student talked to a younger one, with such wisdom and understanding, about a home situation that both girls had experienced. I watch as girls learn about relationships and how what they say can affect another person – lift them up or crush them. I also observe as girls learn to share and to be tolerant of each other’s differences. This makes them more resilient and gives them great coping mechanisms for when they are living in a community where things don’t always revolve around them and their needs and wants.
We still need to improve the academic rigor for some girls. Many of them have built up strategies of procrastination and then, when work is due or an exam is looming, stress and anxiety takes over. I will be talking to them about, not just doing the set homework each night, but actually planning a study routine well before the exam or starting an assignment as soon as it is given. The enforced coming together for prep most evenings has started this process of just getting in and getting it done but I am hoping to run some sessions with the girls to talk about ways to study and invite the more organised to share what works for them. As with the boys, I will be looking closely at reports this term to try to work out where the most need is and to target these as we move forward.
Cheers, Michelle Brown