Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    From the Principal

    Article by Mr Michael Exton

    From the Principal


    Student motivation

    A student staring at the wall when she/he should be doing their homework assignment; a student who still won’t do her/his homework even when she/he’s in danger of missing out on something for not doing it. In such cases, it appears that these students lack motivation, but according to Jessica Minahan1 the reason may not be what might think.  She points to one or more of these aspects of executive functioning:

    • Accurate thinking – assessing how difficult a task is, how long it will take, and one’s ability to do it;

    • Initiation – organising one’s thoughts and getting started;

    • Persistence – sustaining effort in the face of errors and difficulty; and

    • Help-seeking – knowing when to ask for support.

    These are some of the mental skills that help us to get things done and are collectively referred to as ‘executive function.’ These skills are controlled by the frontal lobe area of our brains.

    The use of punishments and rewards won’t likely help develop these skills or improve students’ behaviour for those whose lack of motivation may be affected by their mental skill level and could lead to students feeling misunderstood and rejected.  You would not be surprised that Minahan suggests using a “training wheels” approach. As they undertake learning tasks, we need to make accommodations as students learn how to think accurately about challenges, get going, persist, and ask for help.  If we remove the supports when students are first learning to ride a bike before they are ready, they’ll crash.  To prevent this for our students, in helping your daughter/son with her/his learning tasks you could use some of the following ‘supports’ at home:

    • Break tasks into smaller pieces with their own deadline

    • Give step-by-step instructions

    • Use checklists

    • Use colour coding

    • Use graphic organisers or mind-mapping

    • Follow a daily homework schedule that builds time in for breaks

    • Make sure that assignment tasks from school are recorded

    • Talk with your daughter/son’s teacher about accommodations and informal supports that you can make

    • Improve the home working environment- assist the student to organise their workspace and minimise clutter

    • Provide two types of information - provide the student with written (or visual) instructions as well as oral instructions

    • Demonstrate processes and praise the use of effective procedures as well as effort on task.

    Helping students at home with schoolwork can be a challenge for families.  However, it can also be an opportunity for parents to find out about what their daughter/sons are learning at school and to support their learning.  Student learning is improved when they have opportunities to share and practise at home what they are learning at school.

    Parents don’t need to have all the answers when their daughter/son has difficulties with her/his schoolwork.  And in secondary school, parents would not be expected to know the answer to all schoolwork problems.  As you would understand, in most cases, it would not be helpful in the long run if parents simply provide the answer.  It is far better for parents to help by guiding learning and thinking and supporting their daughter/son to try for her/himself. 

    In just the same way that “training wheels” approach provides temporary support to a novice bicycle rider, parents can also support their daughter/son’s learning.  Showing students how to learn by developing their mental skills and a growth mindset, will make it more likely that they will succeed.

    1.     “Move Forward” by Jessica Minahan in Educational Leadership, December 2017/January 2018 cited in “Principals’ Digests Newsletter 8, 2018.”


    Semester One Reports

    After a short term one, we knew we were in for a long term two, however, it seems to have gone so quickly, and I find it hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of this term! There wouldn’t be a week that goes by without many varied and valuable activities happening at the College on top of the academic program that makes it such a vibrant learning community; no wonder time flies. 

    Our students have been very busy finishing assessment tasks and undertaking tests or exams to finish-up the semester.  Teachers have been very busy with corrections and writing the Semester One Reports. 

    These reports will be available online through the parent portal from 5 pm on Monday 2nd July 2018.  We do not have scheduled Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences to follow-up on these reports, however, parents are most welcome to contact teachers early next term to make a time to discuss student progress in response to these reports.


    Arrangements for tomorrow, last day of term two

    On the last day of this term, Friday 29th June 2018, the students will be dismissed at 2.20pm due to the special school bus timetable for the afternoon of the last day of term two.  We will run six shortened periods so that all Friday classes will have some time on the day.


    Commencement of Term Three 

    Please note that classes for term three resume on Tuesday 17th July 2018.  (Yr 12 VCE students will complete a mid-year English exam at the College on Monday 16th July between 9 am and 12:15 pm.) 

    Monday 16th July 2018 will be a Staff In-service day.  Teachers will be attending the Geelong Catholic Secondary Schools Professional Learning Day - ‘Growing teacher expertise to improve student learning’ at the Italian Social Club at Moolap.

    Dr Simon Breakspear will facilitate the day.  Dr Breakspear is well known in education circles.  He is the founder and Executive Director of Agile Schools and has advised educational leaders from many different countries about managing change, developing innovation capabilities and driving continuous improvement for better learning.  In particular, he will be facilitating the use of “Learning Sprints,” a practical approach to support teachers in continually enhancing their practice as they strive to improve student learning outcomes.

    I am grateful to Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM) for supporting this initiative.  CEM are sponsoring the day and representatives will be on site observing the delivery of the day. 

    CEM are providing printing, technical and other related support including payment of the facilitator.

    Another outcome of the day will be the strengthening of relationships between the Geelong Catholic Colleges.


    Year 10 Work Experience Week

    Best wishes to Year 10 students as they undertake their Work Experience placement this week. 

    The aims of the program include the following:

    • to build self-confidence and independence by learning to cope with new situations and new people;

    • to learn about the changes taking place in society and the workplace;

    • to learn practically;

    • to explore a variety of career opportunities and decide how these relate to the student’s interests, skills, values and goals; and

    • to prepare students for life after school and provide an insight into the world of work.

    Some Work Experience positions were made available through school; however, students and their families were encouraged to use their initiative to secure a suitable and interesting place themselves.  When I signed the Work Experience forms, it was interesting to see the diverse range of placements that our students have been able to obtain.

    Thank you to Mr Bruce Connor (Work and Further Education Coordinator) for his efforts to coordinate this program and Mr Brendan O’Brien (YLC) for his support in this area and the Yr 10 Teachers involved.


    East Timor Immersion experience

    On Sunday, two of our Year 11 students, Maddie Crothers and Sam Salisbury, travelled to Dili, East Timor with a group of Year 11 students and teachers from Jesuit and Jesuit Companion Schools from across Australia.  This “immersion” experience for the students will involve them visiting the Jesuit school and touring some of the surrounding areas.  They will return late in the first week of the holidays.  I wish them all an enriching and safe experience.

    We look forward to finding out about Maddie and Sam’s experiences through the newsletter early next term.


    Year 12 Winter Ball

    After much collaboration and organisation undertaken by the senior Student Leaders of all four Geelong Catholic Secondary Colleges, this evening a Winter Charity Ball will be held at Croatian Community Centre, Cox Rd, Nth Geelong.

    The Ball is only available to Year 12 students from Clonard, Sacred Heart, Saint Ignatius and St Joseph’s Colleges.  Parents/guardians need not attend, however, staff from all four colleges will be in attendance to supervise.  The evening will commence at 7:00 pm and conclude at 10.00 pm. 

    Individual travel arrangements will need to be made between students and parents/guardians.  We ask that parents/guardians support the College by dropping off and picking up their son or daughter from the venue by the start and finishing times indicated. 

    Any profits generated from this event will be donated to ‘Ocean Mind,’ a local group that runs programs (“therapeutic surf courses”) for youth experiencing difficulties. 

    The Winter Ball will be an alcohol-free event with all school rules being applied.

    Please note that we don’t want students to have to purchase expensive clothing to be able to attend this social event.  Students are asked to dress in neat attire appropriate for a semi-formal/formal evening supporting this event.

    Year 12 Students interested in attending have received a letter from the College Captains and Mr McLean (Year 12 Level Coordinator) explaining the Winter Charity Ball in more detail and a parental permission slip that needs to be completed. 


    Best wishes for the holidays

    I wish all students a restful break and encourage them to spend some time revising and preparing for next term.  In particular, VCE students should be using some of this time to revise the work-covered to-date, preview and prepare for the work ahead and complete any set work given by teachers.

    Michael Exton  Principal


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