The day before ANZAC Day, we gathered not to glorify war or praise victors, but to remember those who had served our country during times of conflict and crisis, and to reflect upon their selfless sacrifice. To all Australians, ANZAC Day is a tradition, paid for in blood and celebrated in our freedom. In those battles, young Australians earned a reputation for courage, resilience, self-reliance and mateship.
When I hear stories about mateship on the battlefield, it makes me think about my mates; about my best friends. I love it when veterans of war speak about mateship, it always seems a little deeper than my experiences with my mates. Their sense of mateship refers to all the people they served with, of the bond they shared. Mateship is about personal integrity, courage, compassion, selflessness and dare I say it – love. The ANZAC spirit encourages us to live these qualities every day. When someone asked Jesus, Who is my neighbour?, they could have asked, Who is my mate? The story of the good Samaritan illustrates the fact that everyone is your mate particularly those who you find it most difficult to be mates with.
The school crossing supervisors have notified me of several close calls where drivers have gone through red lights and missed hitting students by seconds. This has proved to be very unnerving for both the students and the supervisors. The council offices have also been notified of these events. This is a timely reminder to all students using the crossing to please wait until the supervisor has blown their whistler indicating that it is safe to cross, not before. Please encourage your children to be safe and alert.
Our talented Year 8 and 9 students have their Art Portraits on display in the DATS Building. The most commonly drawing tools to use are pencil or graphite pen, ink pen, charcoal and crayons. The Year 8 and 9 students have been learning about:
Hands on Learning commenced this week with a total of 37 students joining the program. Warren Attwood has joined the team as the new Hands on Learning Technology Assistant to support myself in the smooth running of the program. Students participated in an orientation to Hands on Learning and got to know each other through a variety of ice breaker games. They did some testing of tools, cooked a BBQ together, played some basketball and started building a small structure in pairs. Students have shown a great amount of promise and are excitement about the program. Warren and I are very excited to see how our students progress.
Mathematics has long been a source of stress for students. I have been a teacher at St Francis Xavier College for twelve years and during this time I have taught many different subjects, across all year levels. Despite teaching Year 12 Biology for the majority of this time, I believe it is Mathematics that causes the most amount of stress for students, regardless of the year level. Mathematicians are often viewed as elitists, with a natural affinity for maths, that cannot be learnt. Math teachers and students who achieve the highest results in class, are viewed in the same light. I have heard students say, I am not great at maths like you and I will never be good at maths, countless times. I have heard similar comments from parents; maths was not my strength in school, I wish I could help my child with their maths homework.
So, what do I say in response to these sorts of comments? Anyone can learn mathematics!
In high school, I achieved good marks in mathematics for the most part, but I never felt good at it. I remember understanding the concepts in class when the teacher was explaining it, then going home and having no idea how to do my homework. I am very lucky because I love to learn and persistence with a concept is a strength of mine, but I understand how overwhelmed my students feel when they cannot complete a math question.
It is important for students to get out of the way of their own learning. I encourage my students to let go of pre-conceived ideas they have of themselves and their math ability. I explain to them that learning mathematics is like learning another language. Why is it that when they go into a Japanese class, they do not talk themselves out of learning the language, but in Maths class, students are reluctant to try from fear of failure.
I truly believe that anyone has the ability to learn mathematics. It is not a subject for the elite. It is not a subject only the academically gifted can excel in. Just like learning a new language becomes easier when you immerse yourself in it, so does learning maths. The more we practice, the more we improve. When we get better, we want to practice more. The reverse is true. Students need to be encouraged to practice their math skills, even when it doesn’t make them feel good. Perhaps especially when it doesn’t make them feel good. The more students become conformable with being uncomfortable, the more their math understanding will develop.
It is alright if you were not good at maths in school. It doesn’t matter if you struggle with the concepts now. Sit down with your child and struggle together. There are so many ways to perform math operations. Try to find a way that you are comfortable with and go for it. It can be so much fun.
I have been providing numeracy support in math classes since 2017, and during this time I have had the privilege of watching our students develop in confidence and math understanding. This Term, I am trialling a Pilot Numeracy Support Program I have created with some of our Year 8 and 9 students. Students have been selected based on PAT-M, NAPLAN and Maths Pathway data. Students learn fundamental numeracy skills, using a range of math resources, in classes of no more than twelve students. I hope to reduce their anxiety related to mathematics and help them realise their math potential. By the end of Term 2, these students will be on track to achieving a pathway into VCE mathematics. I look forward to reporting back to you how this goes.
For news about Wellbeing and the Benefit Mindset Challenge, please see the Wellbeing News.
Did you know? Even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention (eg when avoiding the temptation to check their phones) the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity. Having a smartphone turned on or off, lying face up or face down on a desk does not matter – having a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone.
Did you know? Multitasking is an illusion as our brain must literally switch back and for the between two activities which has a cost to attention and productivity. Even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks such as checking a phone can impact productivity by 40%.
Did you know that patterns of late arrival at school or missing classes are early warning signs for educators? Missing one day of school each week adds up to two months missed over a year. Each day absent in high school has an impact on skill development and social connections. Furthermore, poor attendance may be associated with future unemployment, criminal activity, substance abuse, and poorer health and life expectancy.
So what can you do as a parent to support your child to develop good attendance patterns?
Raising Children: www.raisingchildren.net.au
Youth Beyond Blue: www.youthbeyondblue.org.au
Kids Helpline: www.kidshelp.com.au or phone 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day, 7 days