Student agency, the ELC naming ceremony and 2017 education goals

ELC Naming Ceremony

Last week we held a naming ceremony for the ELC building, now named the Peter and Elaine Mussared building. This building together with the Rectory forms the ELC campus.

Mr Peter Mussared has been a long-time, loyal and avid supporter of St John’s Grammar, and with 14 grandchildren journeying through the School over the years, has a very well vested interest in it. Peter spent almost 15 years on the School Board in the 80’s and 90’s and was an extremely influential Chair who, in numerous ways, shaped the future of the School into what it is today. We are proud to name this building after such an integral and influential man in our School’s history.

More details and photographs can be found on our Facebook page.

2017 Education Goals

Each year we have particular educational goals that are aimed at continual improvement and ensuring that we are preparing our students well for their future role in society. This year we have 6 goals and I will explain one in each upcoming newsletter. The first is;

Developing Student Agency

Why is it important?

  • Students are more successful in their academic endeavours when student agency is high.
  • They develop skills and attributes to be active citizens and change agents in their world. (Sussman, A 2015)
  • It is only students who truly know what helps and hinders their learning.
  • Students can contribute significantly to improving the operation of the school.
  • With increased student agency can come higher levels of engagement and commitment to the learning process. (Quality Learning Australia, 2015)
  • The more you can empower students the greater impact on student learning. (John Hattie, 2009)

Why have we chosen to make this a focus?

  • Our Diagnostic Inventory of School Alignment survey conducted in 2016 revealed that staff, students and parents agree that students should be enabled to have more say in the way their learning is conducted in the school.

What is it?

  • “The level of control, autonomy and power that a student experiences in an educational setting. It can be manifested in the choice of learning environment, subject matter, approach and/or pace.” (Ed Tech 101, 2014)
  • “Agency is the capacity and propensity to take purposeful initiative – the opposite of helplessness. Young people with a high level of agency do not respond passively to their circumstances; they tend to seek meaning and act with purpose to achieve the conditions they desire in their own and others’ lives.” (Vander Ark, T 2015)
  • Agency is the ability to make choices about and take an active role in one’s life path, rather than solely being the product of one’s circumstances. Agency requires the intentionality and forethought to derive a course of action and adjust that course as needed to reflect one’s identity, competencies, knowledge and skills, mindsets, and values.” (The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2015)

Progress so far:

At the commencement of the year all teaching staff and some current students from Junior, Middle and Senior Schools, began understanding the goal of increasing student agency. It covered;

  • What it is;
  • Where the idea came from;
  • Why it is important;
  • Report of our baseline data collected in Term 4 2016;
  • Examples in our current practice; and,
  • Small group brainstorming of how student agency could be developed in classroom learning.

The first Secondary Assembly this term included an explanation of this goal and an outline of the student forums and classroom discussions that will occur.

Secondary and Junior School staff meetings have focused on how to increase the level of agency.

The Reconciliation Ambassadors, Stuart and Millie attended both meetings and explained how they felt they had the agency to plan the RAP and its launch. That agency did not develop from one experience but a combination of many over the years. The next steps include student led forums and teachers sharing effective strategies.

It is important to note that teachers do not hand over all the power to students in this approach. They are the education experts and know what students need to be able to master for them to be successful. Rather they are focusing on listening to students in regard to how they learn, the pace that they move at and how the classroom is arranged.

Meningococcal B Herd Immunity Study

I am pleased to inform you that there has been an 80% response rate to this vaccine study open to our Year 10, 11 and 12 students. The attachment has some more details of the study and perhaps a last chance to be involved. Last Friday was our cut-off date, but if you are keen to be involved please send in your completed approval document and we will do our best to have your child included in the program.
Cheryl Bauer