Friday, 28 October 2016

Quarter 2 - Positive Educational Experiences Ahoy!

Quarter 1 saw most of our students finish the session with a grade that reflected their achievements, and one they were proud of. For sure, starting a new school, meeting many new teachers and systems, as well as learning to time manage is a big challenge. So, congratulations to all students for making it this far and still being able to smile! It was great to be able to share these positive notes with parents at the PTC so thanks to everyone who came along.
As we move into Quarter 2, there will now be a change to the grading policy. Whereas before, students were given a grace period of up to a week before assignments were marked as 'F', from now on, you may see some assignments graded much quicker. This is to avoid students getting the the end of the quarter and panicking as they realise they have multiple assignments to submit. For some reason, the allocation of an 'F' grade seems to get students' attention faster than a 'missing' or 'incomplete' icon. I do not know for sure why this is, but if it alerts students more than other methods, it makes sense to use it.
This new grading practice is in combination with the catch-up sessions at lunchtime and after school.
What else are we doing to support student success?
  • In Advisory, we will be guiding students to create a weekly schedule where they fill in every hour of their day with priorities, and then fit the rest of their activities in the remaining time. Of course, we need to remember our Core Value of Balance in Life, so students will be encouraged to designate time for family, friends and relaxation.
  • Homework will be reduced in Language Arts as far as possible. NoRedInk and Lit Circles will still be a regular feature, but we will try to do as much in class time as we can.
  • In class, we will talk about the Pomodoro technique, and I will encourage all students to try it out over the next week. (Check out the video below.)
  • Students will be asked to install apps to help them focus, the first few of which will be Stay FocusedForest and Pomodoro Time- feel free to try them yourself! 
  • I am asking all parents to consider the impact of 'academies' and other after-school tuition. Recently, I have had 2 students tell me they cannot complete homework because their academy or tutor gave them other work to do. This jeopardises students' chances of success in SSIS, so I would greatly encourage everyone to consider whether extra classes are needed. Please remember teachers are available by appointment (for free!) if students need extra help with particular subjects. It does not always make sense to employ another person who probably will not be familiar with the content of our lessons anyway.
My hope is the above steps will reduce pressure on our teens, and help them have happy, healthy and productive weeks ahead. Stress is OK in moderation as it can motivate us to avoid procrastination, but too much is unhealthy, leads to unhappiness and can cause feelings of being overwhelmed.
Let's work together to ensure our students enjoy their education and maximise their learning.

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