Teaching with the Heart in Mind

As we move towards the end of the year, I find myself reflecting on the wonderful work that has occurred throughout 2022. What stands out to me as the A.B. point of difference is the strong relationships within the College. In particular, I have been blown away by the teaching body who have clearly adopted what educational leader John Hattie, would call 'Teaching with the Heart in Mind'.

Throughout the year we have been challenging staff to select an ‘Invisible Child’ in their class. The aim was to ensure that they selected a student that they felt would benefit from being empowered to come out of their shell and develop the confidence and means necessary to cope with the challenges that face many of them in the school context. We asked our teachers to purposefully develop relationships with their students that made them feel safe, empowered them to be themselves, and helped them develop the confidence to feel proud of their unique point of difference.

Beyond the social and emotional development of these children we cannot underestimate the impact that positive student-teacher relationships have on a student’s academic achievement. Hattie’s analysis of this student-teacher relationship reveals that the effect size is equivalent to nearly two years of growth.

The behaviours associated with emotional support to children include those that demonstrate warmth and human connection, sensitivity to a student’s academic and emotional states, and a regard for the child’s opinions and perspectives. Building relationships with students is hard work and requires daily re-investment. Students need to be able to trust the consistency of the classroom environment, which stabilizes learning. They crave respect that is unconditional. The schooling experience for students can be dramatically affected by the social and emotional support they receive. I am grateful to work in an environment where this is of paramount importance.

I wish to thank the staff who have undertaken this task during the year. I also want to congratulate every child who has made those steps to develop the confidence to present the very best version of themselves in all contexts. There are so many fine examples of young men and women of good character, who have worked alongside our staff to reach their endeavours in 2022. As a by-product of these teacher and student relationships I see so many of our children walk a little taller now than they did at the start of this year. Educators are often unaware of the impact that they have had on children until years later. But for now, I can say confidently that this is a responsibility that the staff at the College take very seriously.  

Darren Harvey | Assistant Principal