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CHARTING COURSE: Conversations Matter

Category: Option E Educating


Submitted by on Tue 27/10/15 17:56

When my kids were little and we were driving in the car together, I used to love listening to them chatter to each other in the back seat. It was a bit like being a fly on the wall. As they got deeper and deeper into their favourite topics, I’d get ‘busy’ with the driving, not ask any questions or add any opinions, just use my ears. This was not always easy for someone who likes to talk! 

Being a fly on the wall provided me with a window into what they were thinking, who they were becoming, what was important to them and what was troubling them.

If you could be a fly on the wall at BAC, you would hear our conversations revolving around very intentional themes. They would give you an insight into who we are and what we are becoming. Allow me to open a window for you on some of our current topics.

HOW CAN WE MAKE GOD THE CENTRE OF OUR COLLEGE? 

Having God at the centre of everything in our College is very important. Our school motto is ‘Everything with God’, and therefore something that we stand for, but it is also what we believe. We know that if we let God into every aspect of our lives, we don’t need validation from elsewhere. Even Abraham had to be reminded (at the ripe old age of 99) to keep God at the centre of everything: “I am the Almighty. Walk and live habitually before me and be blameless, wholehearted and complete” (Genesis 17:1). I can imagine God wanting Abraham to stop concerning himself over what others thought, and start considering how he might bring glory rather than disrespect to God through his actions. With this approach, many of the other things that concern us just fall into place.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO WORK AS A TEAM? 

I was a PE teacher for many years, so it should come as no surprise that I believe in the power of ‘Team’. When we believe in what we’re doing, and pull together as we put in a good effort, we succeed. The truth of this is demonstrated time and again by our favourite sporting teams. The same dynamic applies in music. Choirs that sing from the same song sheet and whose individuals do their part to support the melody, not only create beautiful music, but uplift everyone around them. Choirs that don’t pull together are disharmonious and dissonant. So at school right now, we are talking about ways we can apply the principle of good teamwork to class, friendships, sport and the wider school. Great teams prove the truth of the old saying that the ‘whole is greater than the sum of the parts’.

CAN FEEDBACK HELP ME AS A LEARNER? 

We’ve been talking a lot about how to be more ‘reflective’ in our practices, whether that is in teaching or learning. Reflective learning involves consciously thinking about what we are doing, being reflective about our progress, and planning ways to improve. Research shows that when we are more reflective, our learning becomes more meaningful and tends to stick with us. Quality feedback is a crucial part of this process of learning and improvement. Feedback gives students every opportunity to present their best possible work and see their learning as something that is continual. We want our school to be a safe environment where errors are accepted as a normal part of learning and where we’re each willing to help, motivate and inspire each other.

WHAT IS OUR BAC CULTURE REALLY LIKE? 

Lately, we’ve been openly discussing the current College culture of learning, behaviour, service, collaboration, and the quality of our relationships. We want to get real about the status quo and understand our individual responsibility and impact on positive school culture. We get an insight into the amazing cooperation, strength and friendship that exists in extracurricular activities like StormCo, Sonship, the school musical, sports teams and team events like The Kokoda Challenge. But how can we translate that right across the school? Through culture, we unite. 

WHAT DO WE VALUE AT BAC? 

You would normally find a school’s values listed in double-spaced special font in the ‘About School’ section of their website or prospectus. But is that the only place they exist? Are they just nice words? They shouldn’t be. Values should determine the behaviours we all agree upon. They should align people. They should come together in thought and action to create school ‘character’, forming the basis for strategies in the staffroom as well as behaviour in the playground. Our discussions at BAC are about what our College values really mean to us. Why are they important? How do they translate into concrete, real-world ways of thinking and behaving?

 

As you can see, we are having lots of ‘reflective’ conversations at the moment. We’re interrogating who we are and what we believe as individuals and a school community. I believe that these conversations will not only make us stronger, but better instruments for education and for God.

Why don’t you ask your children about these things? Come along to our weekly Chapel sessions and be a fly on the wall. If you would like to contribute to our current conversations, please email me on principal@bac.qld.edu.au or call Karen at reception to book an interview (3347 6444).

Leanne Entermann

College Principal


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