Reflections on Open Evening

Parents would be aware that the College ran our Open Evening on Wednesday 3 May. This event assists prospective parents to add to the knowledge they gained on the tours running for the past two months and to have an opportunity to speak with our students and staff about their experiences and our programs.

We have consciously structured the Open Evening to maximise the opportunity to see and hear the many programs, including our curriculum, that we have at Norwood. The level of access to students and staff, we were told, is a strong point of difference between ourselves and other schools. Given that, it was very pleasing to have so many of our visitors pass extremely favourable comments about the quality of our students, their knowledge of the programs and their enthusiasm for the school.

Students were involved in presenting on stage in the Hall, speaking in class-based activities, playing music (in the Hall and at various points around the College), cooking and serving snacks and guiding our visitors as they navigated our buildings. Thank you to the many students who were involved in the evening. We were delighted with both the pride they showed in being ‘ambassadors’ for the College and the depth of their knowledge of so many aspects of the school – including our Values and our expectations of our students.

Staff were also spoken of very favourably. So many visitors wanted me to know that our staff were ‘so welcoming’ and so positive about ‘their school’. I was, myself, particularly impressed with the quality of the presentations that staff had created in their rooms. It was a fascinating insight into the range of matters that are covered across the Key Learning Areas and I watched primary school students be captivated by displays and the activities being run.

It led me to reflect on the complexity of the role of a classroom teacher. Our teachers are asked to do a lot. We expect them to cater to the needs of every child – even when that may mean many different levels in one class. We ask them to be interested in the personal development of each child – a challenge when the lives of some of our students can be very complex. We want them to not only teach our children, but also to help them to learn how to learn – because when they leave school, there will still be occasions when they have to learn new skills or new jobs and don’t have a teacher standing next to them as they try.

I read an article recently that drew an analogy between the work of teachers and an iceberg. Only 10% of the iceberg’s mass is visible - the other 90% is hidden underwater … but it is there. I believe the work done by teachers and support staff in a school is the same - 10% observable and 90% unseen.

Whilst some may believe that classroom teachers work only during the normal school day, it is my experience that this is a substantial underestimation. Planning, preparation and correction, collaboration with colleagues, curriculum writing, communicating with parents, attending meetings and professional development, considering how to best address the individual needs of students (and rewriting programs to accommodate), coaching sport teams, leading performing arts events, running camps ... teachers do all of these and are one of the few professional groups who do not get payment for ‘overtime’.

Finally, teachers have an involvement in the development of the ‘whole person’. Our staff take a particular interest in the personal growth of our students – your children. Their concern with their students goes far beyond simply teaching them subject content. It is a rich and varied vocation, teaching.

I am in no doubt that the reputation the College has built over many years, for the quality of our alumni, is a consequence of the level of care and genuine interest shown by staff and the understanding of our families that working as a ‘team’ with the school will lead to the best outcomes. I trust that our families recognise the investment our staff put into our students, on their journey with us.