Mr David Mowbray
Hello to all the Traralgon College community. I would like to share a little background: I was previously the Principal at Yarram Secondary College from October 2014. Within this role, I was directly responsible for the leadership and strategic management of staff along with meeting students’ educational outcomes and parent expectations. Previous to that role, I was the Guthridge Campus Principal of Sale College for several years. I have also worked internationally – from 2007 to 2010, as a Cluster Manager: K-12 Government Schools in the United Arab Emirates employed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) in supporting various schools and principals undertake a whole-system reform, and I also spent the school year 2000/2001 teaching Physical Education and Sport in the UK. As far as teaching, my area is Physical Education and SOSE. I started my teaching career at Sale Technical School back in 1986 and then transferred to Sale High School and eventually, journeyed through the merger of both these schools in the mid-1990s to become Sale College.
So far, in my short time here, I have focused on getting up to speed with understanding where the school is positioned regarding the Priority Review from 2016, the focus for 2017’s school improvement efforts, meeting staff and students, and working with the leadership team on the school’s medium and long-term strategic direction.
Fundamentally, Traralgon College is fully committed to building a robust, relevant learning and personal development program for each student - as education remains the fundamental building block for success in life. This mission is achieved only when everyone’s role in the school (staff, students and parents) faces and meets delivery of the same high expectations whereby:
- We each feel responsible for each student achieving excellence and growth in all of the nominated student outcomes – it is at the heart of everything we do as a school community.
- We work with others – in partnership, within and beyond our own school or office walls.
- We ground our practice in the best available evidence and data, including in the classroom.
- We focus on the few things that will make the biggest difference for students, and do them very well.
- We learn from and with each other, always striving to do better.
It is important to note that our school has positioned itself, based on the outcomes of the 2016 school review, to meet certain fundamental expectations, priority areas and initiatives to ensure that we are building a sound improvement plan around key areas and in the right sequence. The 2017 annual plan – see High Performing Plan diagram - has identified the following key areas: creating a safe and orderly environment; building leadership capacity across the college; developing a strong and effective instructional model; and creating a positive, connected and engaged school community.
Already, there has been a visible positive change and the current climate of the college is one more reflective of our core values: respect, responsibility and resilience. The strong core school engagement focus on having all students be compliant with our expectations on being on-time to class, uniform requirements, not using phones in class has made significant impact to how students approach and engage in their learning.
Our next College-wide focus is moving on to the submission of learning assessment tasks. All student assessment tasks will be posted on Compass for students and parents to see what the assessment is, when it is due and the feedback / results of the assessment. This action is aimed at increasing the students’ cognitive engagement in the learning by monitoring submission of assessment to better enable teachers to know where students are at in their learning and how they can plan for the phase of learning.
We appreciate and acknowledge the important role parents play supporting the school in achieving the school community’s expectations of what we would all like the school to be like for their children and with this in mind I would like to share an important message from the book “How to Raise an Adult” by former Stanford University Dean Julie Lythcott-Haims.
Schools are often the place where childhood friendships blossom into lifelong connections. However, sometimes getting to this point is a lot of trial and error, falling in and out of the ‘friends group’, disagreements and spats, and some of these occasions get nasty. When trying to help our kids, with nothing but great intentions, we actually do more harm by over-parenting.
Most people do not wish or plan to become over-parent, or be helicopter parents. Parents know and love their children and have their children’s best interest at heart. They are motivated to provide their children with access to safety, happiness and success. Yet it is in the small moments of subtle communication of expectations throughout childhood that children learn the habits and values that remain ingrained in their behaviours.
Parents must also allow their children to adjust their learning or behavioural habits to meet the school’s behaviour expectations, increased subject rigor, work for grades they deserve and find their own voices should self-advocacy become necessary. This means parents should not call the school or teacher if their child receives less than a high grade / score on an assignment, or receives a detention and change the outcome. Why? Because while these parent ideas or actions seem appropriate and helpful for the child, it could be argued that for children to successfully manage life after high school they need to do without the constant assistance of hovering parents to develop and establish healthy habits long before age 18.
All parents need to be reassured that Traralgon College is working extremely hard to provide a safe, supportive and friendly environment that grows and develops strong capable young adults by the end of Year 12. We do have the occasional hiccups when students struggle social, behaviourally and emotionally. This is mostly a temporary setback that is well managed, supported by high level solutions, by our extremely competent staff. It is also a time when adults (parents and teachers) can step back and give young children time to identify and solve problems, provide the opportunity for children to learn and develop important skills such as self-regulation, empathy, problem-solving, creativity, tenacity, perseverance and patience. These are all very important skills and character strengths needed to move through life successfully.
We respect and support parents. When parents are aware of school / teachers’ goals and watch how they interact with students they may notice the expectations for children in their child’s current year level. This is valuable because although parents have great expertise on their own children, schools have many years of experience with that age group. Teachers and other caring adults in the lives of children are viewed as partners working toward a common goal, not adversaries.
We use natural consequences to run their course by regarding setbacks as learning opportunities. Failure and disappointment are a regular part of life from childhood to old age. When children are given the opportunity to deal with setbacks early, within a loving, supportive context, they build skills that will help them later in life. When a child loses a board game, they can learn about good sportsmanship. If children do not secure a spot on the best team, or if they are passed over for a starring role in the annual production, they may learn to deal with disappointment and work harder to try again.
Children who are given opportunities to develop their voices and take charge of their learning and behaviour, by teachers and parents, who incorporate these positive practices, will be well-equipped to deal with challenges. Children of all ages need adults (teachers, coaches, parents) as positive role models to offer love, support, encouragement, safety and shelter. Kids are capable of learning, speaking, choosing, doing, trying, failing and trying again, knowing that their caring, supportive adults are right beside them, encouraging them to move forward to bigger things.