“I love this College - it is truly a learning community.”
These were the words of US-based Professor Yong Zhao, our 2018 academic-in-residence, as he reflected this week on the work in which our students and staff have been engaged since his last visit in mid-2017.
It is indeed a privilege to be part of such a dynamic, passionate, inventive and inspiring learning community, and everywhere I look I see it. In fact, I paused to reflect (below) on just a few days of recent experience:
It is true to say that we have all felt very proud of the calm and mature manner in which our Year 11s and 12s (and a number of Year 10 students who are taking a Year 11 course this year) have approached their first set of exams in recent weeks. While focused on deepening their learning and achieving their best possible marks not only by their dedicated study (individually and in groups), but also by attending the out-of-hours classes our teachers offer, and so on, they have also been really supportive of one another. Further, throughout this time they have maintained their balanced approach to life via their cocurricular program, their hobbies and their jobs, amongst other things. We all appreciate the leadership our most senior students model, in this regard and in many ways.
The Year 11 and 12 General Pathway students have completed work placements as part of the SCSA Workplace Learning Program (ADWPL) over the last two weeks. These placements have been tailored to suit their specific needs and interests and, in some cases, to meet certain VET Certificate course requirements. Students have attended workplaces in a variety of settings including aviation and surveying, radio and sound production, heavy duty automotive and farming.
Our students can be commended on their ability to juggle their placements while still completing, in a number of cases, one or two exams and managing to attend TAFE.
On a recent Sunday, our rock band students had the opportunity, under the guidance of WAAPA staff, to rehearse at Mojo’s in readiness for our rock band concert at that venue the following night: I am sure that all of us who were present at that concert could see the significant growth in all performers’ skills, confidence and stage presence.
I also felt very proud of the way in which our Year 8s embraced all the learning opportunities at their Outdoor Learning Program in Waroona last week: when I visited them, they were busily collaborating to solve a range of problems and challenges, facing some fears and learning much about themselves along the way.
That same year group was also very impressive this week as, through their Creative Industries program, they used their Design Thinking skills to seek solutions to the real-world problems posed to them by representatives from our service providers such as Nulsen Disability Services, The Salvation Army and so on.
I also loved seeing the enthusiastic way in which some of our Year 6s were excitedly hurrying off to participate in an ICAS assessment, where they enjoyed the challenge of applying their learning and understanding in a national competition, and I really appreciated some other Year 6 (and 11) students’ thoughtful contribution to a Beyond Boundaries meeting in which they participated with industry leaders, Deans and leaders from our universities.
I was impressed with the funding proposal from a group of students in support of the cocurricular activity they are involved in – building an electric vehicle – and just recently, some of our Year 9s, inspired by their participation in the WonTok Conference hosted by ASC, decided to write a proposal to the College that would see them support refugee children – befriending them and assisting them with their English and other schoolwork.
And then there were our Year 2s: how wonderful it was to see a group of them having the initiative to seek out an opportunity to create new things in The Hangar (the home of Propeller Enterprises) – their free time has been spent measuring and hammering, flearning and learning together.
I was delighted (as I read a book to another group of Year 2s recently) to see the very sophisticated and insightful manner in which they were able to apply their predictive skills to the narrative unfolding before them: they were so thoughtfully and empathically engaged in not only the characters within the book, but also the structure of the narrative.
As I met with our Cross Country squad to wish them well for this week’s competition, I thanked and congratulated them on the learning about leadership and about “community before self” they have shown: the importance of getting out of a warm bed, for instance, to attend training in order to develop skills and, importantly, to provide moral support for one another and represent their community.
I love to see, whenever I pop into the Senior School Library before or after school, just so many students – in groups and individually – working with our staff on clarifying their understanding of their course work, sharing their love of learning and assisting each other in study groups.
I am most grateful for the way in which our staff lead our learning community, proactively modelling an enthusiastic and lifelong commitment to learning. A recent staff meeting saw a large number of our teachers offer to present to their peers the work they have been doing – the strategies they have found useful – in developing a culture of thinking in their classrooms, and it was pleasing to see the enthusiastic way in which they engaged with our visiting Professor, giving of their own time to talk with and learn from him.
I agree with Professor Zhao: ASC “is truly a learning community.”