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Digging Deep to Affect Change

I am not much of a gardener. At times, I have delusions of grandeur and over-purchase plants I can’t pronounce at some trendy nursery which serves coffee and breakfast. I buy the best soil (because it comes in the smallest bags and is easy to lift). I nod haplessly, as the checkout operator gives me instructions about the care of the plants.

Deep down, I scoff at the idea of plants being referred to as part of an infant patient outreach program. Then, I head home, armed with greenie enthusiasm and get started on the ‘prettying’ project. About a month later, the plants have either been eaten by an unrelenting possum or they have perished from malnutrition. I look over the carnage and swear it will be different next time. I set goals, but they are strategy-less. Fundamentally, my habits rarely change.

Habits are important. It isn’t enough to want something. One has to get into the routine of doing the things that make a difference (a theme for ATC this year). Making a difference is certainly an important lesson from a social justice point of view. It is also an important truth to all learning. True learning only occurs when one is prepared to do the things that matter. For one student this term, it was about making a study timetable and sticking to it. For another, it was about sitting away from peers who distracted him. For another, it was about pre-viewing maths concepts in Maths Online, prior to the content being taught in class.

Habits are really important. As much as we talk about boys needing engagement, they also need routine and habits. It has been gratifying to see some of our boys take up the offer of writing tutorials. Of course, there are 100 other places they would prefer to be. Importantly, they have realised that writing is central to all they do, and that improvement is not instantaneous. It requires commitment, discipline, routine and regular practise. In the plant world, the equivalents might be the right sun, regular watering, the appropriate insect deterrent. Already, some of them are starting to show good improvement in their capacity to respond to on-demand writing tasks. Hopefully more students will take up this opportunity when it is offered in 2018, making a difference to their own outcomes.

As I look out of my office window and spy the purple Jacaranda’s signifying the beginning of the assessment period, can I take this opportunity to wish all students luck in their remaining exams. I very much hope that the outcome will be what they are looking for, and, if not, that the holiday period is one where they can reassess their goals, strategies and routines, with a view to better in 2018.

Kath Little, Dean of Learning