November 4 2012

Building connections

I love my year group. My role as year advisor is one of the things I’m most proud of in my current position at my school. I’ve been working with these kids since they were in year 6, tiny little things by comparison to the almost-adults who tower over me now, visiting our school for taster lessons and orientation day, and they are such a huge part of my everyday experiences at Evans.

It’s the nature of every school that there are changes. Students leave. Students arrive. We have an Intensive English Centre at our school, which has a frequently changing student population, and pretty much every year our year group has gained new members from the IEC, as well as all the usual comings and goings. One of the challenges for any year advisor is to build a sense of connection amongst your student group. In a school like ours, that poses some extra challenges. This year in particular, as they face the prospect of HSC, Vocational training, figuring out where the future is likely to take them, and negotiating all the complexities of senior study, looming adulthood, driving, drinking, relationships … it’s a lot for them to get their heads around, and it’s a lot for ME to get my head around!

So, how can we support them? We are running a new program this year. Called Planning My Future, it’s 2 periods a week, working on social skills, study skills, drug and alcohol education, and a whole lot more stuff to support them in whatever they are dealing with, personally and academically. It’s going pretty well … some problems, as to be expected with a new program, but we are getting there, and we’ve made some solid progress on implementing a sustainable whole-school program to support our students.

As well as this, we have bigger picture events – like our camp, which I posted about a few weeks ago. One of the amazing outcomes for me from camp has been the increased connections between the kids since they’ve come back. They are really supporting each other, and I’m proud of the way they have each others’ backs.

We have the remainder of the term to keep working though our PMF program. This term, we developed a series of electives for the kids to be a part of. We have some participating in a mural project, where they are designing and painting an artwork to support out school’s PBL focus. Some are doing a mentoring program, and they will be working with one of our year 7 classes to build connections. We have a group who are working with teachers who are on Stage 5 sport, providing coaching and management support for the staff, and helping the stage 5 students get engaged in sport. And we have some who are doing a workshop on “Positive Thinking.” Varied topics, yes, but all with the same focus. We want all students, regardless of the group they are participating in, to have an increased sense of their own capacity to make a positive difference in their world.

I’m after a “Keynote” event to support all this. Someone, or something, to present at a year meeting, to tie it all together. To focus on the choices we make in our lives, and the importance of making positive ones. Any ideas? Hit me with your best speakers!! I know, it’s not a lot of notice … I want something that we can do before the end of the year. That’s the problem with working on a program that is flexible and meets the needs of your year group as they come up – it doesn’t always fit in with my OCD desire to forward plan, and know what is going on!!


If you’ve done something wonderful in this area, too, I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for stopping by!

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Posted November 4, 2012 by Tamara Reads in category Ponderings on Education

About the Author

She/her. On Whadjuk Noongar land. NSWPRC Officer, Teacher Librarian, English teacher and social media advocate. I've been teaching in Western Sydney for my entire teaching career, and love my job more than I love Neil Gaiman. (That's a lot, in case you're wondering!) I stalk authors (but always politely), fangirl over books, and drink coffee. And one of my guilty prides about my children is that they all have favourite authors. All opinions are my own.

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