Climbing the mountain – Term 2

Mr Mark Richards | Director of Learning and Innovation

As the days shorten and the winter chill descends, we are trudging our way up what feels like a mountainous second term for our College.  Whilst it is fantastic to return to classes of smiling faces, inevitably this also signals the return of assessments and reports and the ogre of stress and struggle.  This term, more so than most, students and staff are feeling the pressure as we try to steer our educational journey towards the pursuit of excellence.  Managing this stress is a delicate balancing act.  We need to have a certain amount of stretch and strain in our education system to allow us to learn and grow, too much and we flounder and drown.

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” – Dolly Parton

The reality is, if you demand more from students, they will learn more.  As I look around my Year 12 Chemistry classroom, watching the learners taking part in a group discussion about their experiments, I find myself wondering what they are getting out of it in terms of language or confidence. Should I be content that most are using some English, occasionally incorporating some recently learned scientific terms?  Are my students being under-challenged?  Would my students learn more if I demanded more of them? And if so, what is the right kind of ‘more’ to demand?  Am I enabling them to aspire the College’s value of excellence?

Demanding more does not mean ‘making things more difficult’.  It is a demand that comes precisely at the point where the learner can take the next steps forward – and helping the learner meet that demand, rather than ignore it. This is a doable demand. On the other hand, simply making things more difficult (e.g. setting exercises that are too hard) is an unhelpful, undoable demand that actively discourages learning.

Here are a few snapshots from SCOTS PGC lessons. What thread runs through them?

  • A student gives the right answer to the teacher’s question (i.e. the right words in the right order). The teacher doesn’t say “Good” and close the matter, but rather asks: “Can you say that in a different way? How would you teach that to a younger student?”
  • The teacher does not just collect answers from the first two or three students who volunteer but puts questions to a range of people around the class, intuitively adjusting the difficulty to what she knows of each student.
  • The teacher gets students to listen and comment on each other’s answers, rather than designating any as correct or incorrect herself, at least until it is useful to do so.
  • The teacher withholds saying “excellent” or “very good” and instead gives precise feedback indicating how the student might improve some aspect of what he or she said.

In each case, the teacher is starting from where the student is and then hoping to go further, however good the student is. Nothing is being done just to ‘get it right’. The teacher is not concerned with closing a question to move on, only with pushing, nudging each student further along the road, from whatever their starting point is.

At the College we are constantly trying to improve and grow our students.  Instead of giving the correct answers straight away, we invite other students to state if they agree, or ask a student to explain an answer, or propose an alternative answer and ask the class to decide who is correct.  Our aim is not just to put a ‘tick’ next to the right answer, but to swim around it, to explore the language and the thinking that lies behind the question, and to involve as many learners as possible.  This is all to try and encourage tenacity and to inspire students to try and adopt a growth mindset, going beyond what is ‘right or wrong’ to start asking ‘why and how’.

The flipside of this is how we manage the stress that comes with assignments and exams.  These can be a challenging part of school life for children and young people and their parents or carers. There are ways to ease the stress; having someone to talk to about their work can help. Support from a parent, Tutor or study buddy can help young people share their worries and keep things in perspective.  Encourage your child to talk to a member of school staff who they feel is supportive. If you think your child is not coping, it may also be helpful for you to talk to their teachers.  We encourage all parents and carers to be involved with their child’s education as much as possible.  The community has shown how supportive, creative, and resilient it is throughout the Learning from Home program and it is imperative we continue this into the future.

Mr Richard’s 10 tips for dealing with exam stress featured image

Mr Richard’s 10 tips for dealing with exam stress

Mr Mark Richards | Director of Learning and Innovation Here’s some advice to help manage the stress of exams which is especially important next term …

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Mr Richard’s 10 tips for dealing with exam stress

Mr Mark Richards | Director of Learning and Innovation

Here’s some advice to help manage the stress of exams which is especially important next term for Year 12s as they start to prepare for external exams:

  • Eat well. A balanced diet is vital for your child’s health and can help them feel well during exam periods.
  • Good sleep improves thinking and concentration. Most teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
  • Stay calm. Remember, exams do not last forever.
  • Study regularly. Have somewhere comfortable to study and get the whole family involved.  Small chunks of regular revision are better than cramming at the last minute.
  • Set Goals. Think about your goals in life and how revision and exams are related to them.
  • Be positive. It is normal to feel anxious, nervousness is a natural reaction to exams. The key is to put these nerves to positive use.  Failing is not the end of the world.
  • Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind, and relieve stress. It does not matter what it is – walking, cycling, swimming, football and dancing are all effective.
  • Reflect. After each exam, discuss the parts that went well rather than focusing on the difficult questions. Then move on and focus on the next test, rather than dwelling on things that cannot be changed.
  • Reward yourself. Think about rewards for doing revision and getting through each exam.  Rewards do not need to be big or expensive. They can include simple things like having your favourite meal or watching your favourite TV program.
  • Celebrate. When the exams are over, organise an end-of-exams treat.

Some young people feel much better when exams are over, but that is not the case for all young people.  If your child needs any additional support, please do not hesitate to contact the College and we will be able to advise the best way forward.

Together we can enable our boys and girls to reach their potential, whatever pathway that they may take.  To inspire them to be the best human they can be and always aim higher.  It is, as ever, a privilege to be a part of the SCOTS PGC community and to have a small part in enabling a brighter future for all our students.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you will go!” – Dr Seuss

Casual Clothes Day | Thursday 18 June featured image

Casual Clothes Day | Thursday 18 June

Next Thursday 18 June, students are invited to take part in a Casual Clothes day to raise money for the RBWH Foundation and Year 12 …

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Casual Clothes Day | Thursday 18 June

Next Thursday 18 June, students are invited to take part in a Casual Clothes day to raise money for the RBWH Foundation and Year 12 Cardinal fundraising.

Please bring a gold coin donation in order to participate.

As always, students are reminded of the following dress code:

  • No beachwear
  • No pyjamas, slippers or ugg boots
  • No inappropriate slogans/designs
  • Closed in shoes must be worn
  • Shorts and skirts must be of a modest length
Athletics and Cross Country | Term 3 featured image

Athletics and Cross Country | Term 3

Term 3 College Athletics and Cross Country Championships Further to our announcement in last week’s newsletter we can now clarify dates for the College Interclan …

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Athletics and Cross Country | Term 3

Term 3 College Athletics and Cross Country Championships

Further to our announcement in last week’s newsletter we can now clarify dates for the College Interclan Athletics and Cross Country events.

In line with the Queensland Government’s Roadmap for easing restrictions it is intended to run the College Interclan Athletics Carnival over 6 days, and our Cross Country over 2 days in Term 3.

To ensure these events do not exceed mandated crowd limits, unfortunately, no spectators will be permitted unless we have a significant further lifting of restrictions.

Only two age groups will compete each day over the Athletic Carnivals, and our Cross Country will be spread over two days in Week 4.

The rationale here is to reintroduce sport and a sense of competition, belonging and connectedness to our school for our students.

The dates and age groups are as follows:

Athletics:

Week 1 | Wednesday 15 July – 5, 6, 7 and 8 years events

Week 1 | Thursday 16 July – 9 and 10 years events

Week 1 | Friday 17 July – 11 and 12 years events

Week 2 | Wednesday 22 July – 13 and 14 years events

Week 2 | Thursday 23 July –  15 and 16 years events

Week 2 | Friday 24 July – 17/18 years events plus 13, 14, 15, 16 years Triple Jump Events

Cross Country:

Week 3 | Friday 31 July – 14, 15  and 16/18 years events

Week 4 | Friday 7 August – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 years events

The Lion and the Thistle – A history lesson! featured image

The Lion and the Thistle – A history lesson!

If you’ve been following the College Facebook page, you’ll see this week, we released the sixth episode of the College documentary series, The Lion and …

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The Lion and the Thistle – A history lesson!

If you’ve been following the College Facebook page, you’ll see this week, we released the sixth episode of the College documentary series, The Lion and the Thistle.

In honour of the College Centenary, our resident videographer and past student, Ralph Noga has put together a fantastic tribute that retells the history of how the College was formed and who has shaped it to be the great school we all enjoy today.

If you don’t have Facebook, all six episodes are available on YouTube for viewing as well.  The links are set out below:

Happy viewing!