Working together across the curriculum can provide the platform for highly engaging pastoral care experiences.This experiri profile is from Term 2 2013 and was contributed by Deanne Hamilton, Coordinator of Mission and Community Development at Canterbury College.
What was the need or challenge being addressed?
Providing a room full of energetic and spirited Middle schoolers with engaging learning experiences can be a challenge at the best of times! We know teenagers have a great deal to offer our community but we also know through current research that they are certainly vulnerable to engaging in negative behaviours if they don’t feel connected – to themselves, each other, family and community. What could we do in our pastoral care program in year 8 to ensure this engagement and this connection was felt by our students?
What was the response to the need?
The answer was to align our Spiritual Development course to the HPE curriculum with the linchpin being the values from our College Charter. The highly regarded ‘Rock and Water’ program is conducted during HPE lessons. Students are learning that with strength and intelligence they can calmly choose their actions and responses to difficult situations. The power of their choices is then further explored through Spiritual Development lessons. Having the strength to stand by your choices and defend your decisions can be hard – the Bible stories and passages studied highlight to our students that they are not alone. A supportive curriculum and pastoral care team and year level coordinator, guides students through physical activities and carefully selected focus questions that bring together the experiences. These are then expressed in a reflective journal.
What was the impact?
Massive!!! Self-confidence, self-awareness and an obvious increase in resilience when dealing with stressful and challenging situations has been evident in the cohort. The students are seeing why people value religion and are also understanding how the power of words and attitudes can bless or destroy. Considering what the Bible says is worth treasuring is powerful stuff for Middle School students – it’s even more powerful when they can really make a connection and relate the scripture to their own lives. Our Year 8 cohort has been provided with not just a rich experience but a program that feels real.
What were the greatest challenges?
Timetable and staffing are always difficult when attempting something ‘new’. We have been fortunate, through the support of senior leadership, to allocate staff to the program in a way that works to the strengths of the teachers and supports the needs of the students. It is certainly a ‘learn by doing’ process in this, our first year but our team communication is strong as is our vision for this program.