Academic & Pastoral … you cannot split the two

“They may forget what you said but they will not forget how they made you feel”

(Carl W. Buechner)

When you think back to your days at high school, what memories spring to mind? I am guessing it isn’t necessarily Friday afternoon’s math’s or history lesson (these subjects have been chosen randomly!). This is not to say in any way that knowledge is not important! Nor is it to suggest that it cannot inspire learners. I am guessing that you may, however, remember the teacher in this lesson.  I am sure that for many parents, like me, the memories that really stand out are of the relationships developed during these years. Those friends that made you laugh and feel good about yourself … and those teachers who did the same.

What we need to remember, as educators, is that we put young people first, not subjects. Yes, we need teachers who are passionate about their subject area, know and understand the content, and have a good understanding of a variety of successful teaching and learning practices and how best to implement them. These are of course vitally important. But what is also essential is the teacher who knows and loves their students, your children, and can demonstrate this each day. Ultimately, our young people remember how a teacher made them feel, not necessarily the wonderful lessons they created.

No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. Essentially all learning is understanding relationships. I’m sure all of us have been affected by a teacher or an adult. Teaching, I believe, is one of the noblest professions in society. To be delegated the daily task of caring for your children, and educating future generations, is ultimately a great honour. In the past, I have at times referred to the following quote by educator Rita Pierson. Her TED talk is well worth watching.

“Teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

In short, a teacher’s job is both academic and pastoral – you cannot split the two. This division has become widely accepted, and while “it may be a convenient way of ‘divvying up the jobs’, it does not reflect the interconnectedness between who your students are and what they learn” *(Claire Jarmy, 2019). In short, learning and wellbeing are intertwined.

With this is mind, a new school provides the opportunity to implement structures which support the merging of both learning and wellbeing. While the predominant practice has been to recognise that wellbeing affects academic progress, we need to acknowledge the influence that learning can have on one’s wellbeing. In our community learning and wellbeing are treated as equal and synergising partners. Learning and wellbeing are not mutually exclusive. Earlier this week we launched our CMCC Wellbeing for Learning Framework, titled ‘myARC’.

This framework will guide our college in equipping students with the skills and tools to thrive in a dynamic, globally connected world. Underpinning our wellbeing practices is our common language of our six global competencies: Character, Citizenship, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration & Communication, supported by our college values of Courage, Compassion, Hospitality & Faith in Action.

A focus on the 6Cs immunises and protects against social and emotional difficulties thus building positive and mental health resilience. Learning and wellbeing are intertwined, one supporting the other ensuring that CMCC students are “good at learning and good at life”.

Our mission is to co-create learning environments where faith, purpose fulfilment and joy are experienced by all. Teaching & learning should be joyful! Our framework will ensure students experience genuine autonomy in their learning. This autonomy increases intrinsic motivation and leads to authentic engagement.

Students who feel a genuine sense of agency in their learning see relevance in what they are doing. Learning is more joyful and has greater purpose and meaning, with students better able to learn and practice social and emotional skills. Autonomy supports ‘Voice, Choice & Agency’ and plays a key role in developing wellbeing skills which result in a number of benefits for young people.

myARC supports purposeful choices for our young people which are flexible and target individual learning needs, passions, interests & strengths, allowing for deeper, richer learning experiences. myARC, or my story, respects each student’s personal journey and provides a framework that seeks to fulfil our College Moral Imperative of empowering agile, reflective and confident learners.

* Source: (Jarmy, Claire. 2019. ‘Teachers’ jobs are academic and pastoral. You can’t split the two.’ http://www.tes.com.)

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