Last week we enjoyed videos and performances by our Year 12 students as we got ready to send them off to their next chapter. As I watched those videos and thought about the high school experience through the eyes of a Year 12 student, I tried to figure out what they felt like they learned in their time here. I’m sure if you asked them formally they would mention things like Physics or English but those certainly aren’t the things they focused on in their videos.
Relationships. Without a doubt, relationships were the main focus of each of the six videos shared by the Year 12 students. They celebrated the strong bonds formed over the last few years. They recognized the ups and downs, rejoicing in the unity of their particular cohorts. The power and strength of those bonds built through hard work and resilience demonstrates just how important it is for the success of students to have strong social-emotional skills.
Our counselors have recently done a lot of work to help incorporate some of these skills into the every day curriculum. That work is an essential part of our school’s mission but also to the what we’re trying to accomplish academically. Students who “demonstrate integrity, respect and empathy toward others” and “respond with confidence and reason to an ever changing world” aren’t created by studying a textbook, doing lab experiments or writing research papers. These skills lie deep within the social-emotional lessons that our students need to learn. Kudos to the work our counselors have done recently to integrate more of these skills and lessons into the curriculum, there is still more to do though and the work must continue.
The other thing that came through in the Year 12 videos, albeit more implicitly, is the idea of being adaptable. Many of those stories start off highlighting the nervousness of being put into a new cohort, working with different people and being completely out of their comfort zones. Over time, however, as they learned to adapt and find their place within their new classes, these Year 12s showed an incredible ability to adapt and make the best of the situation. I see this as more than being resilient. Resilience, while very important, means bouncing back from difficulties and continuing on. What I saw in our kids was more than that, not only did they bounce back but they adapted as needed to continue forward…a very big step!
As teachers, we can learn a lot from these students. It’s important to remember just how crucial it is for us to build relationships with our students, who are constantly changing and growing. Additionally so with our colleagues, developing a program that meets the needs of a diverse range of learners doesn’t happen in isolation, building strong relationships with colleagues creates a positive work environment. I frequently stress the importance of positive relationships (I would argue they’re the most important thing in a school) and it was interesting to see our Year 12s focus on their importance as well.
Generally speaking, younger people are less set in their ways and more adaptable than their more experienced (older) counterparts. As we learn, grow and gain experience in the world, it is important to remember the we must remain flexible in our thinking. Being able to adapt is the hallmark of a successful educator. We are in a professional field that is entering the early days of a revolution, more than 100 years of doing the same thing has proven insufficient for success in education. We, as the leaders of that change, must adapt and grow to ensure the success of our students.
We’ve got a little over two weeks left and we’ll be doing a lot of celebrating and reflecting during that time. Take a few minutes every now and again to think about all that our students have learned over the last year. Additionally, think about how we can adapt to improve the learning process for them next year and beyond. It’s an exciting time to be an educator, the revolution is coming, what will be your role in the process?