Head of the River is on next weekend and if you have not been up to Lake Barrington before, please consider coming along on Saturday 26 March to cheer on our rowers.
Back in 2018, I distinctly remember going out in a tinny with the rowers one cold dark morning. The coach gave me a run down on rowing at the School. One thing seemed clear: we never won at rowing, or at least this century we had not. The coach did not believe this was going to change any time soon. We were too small a school to be competitive. We did not train enough. We gave senior students the option of going on an overseas trip in early December.
As I sat and listened, I was acutely aware of how little about rowing I knew. What I did know was that research from the last fifty years has consistently found that teachers’ beliefs and expectations of their students impact profoundly on their students’ growth and development.
While there are too many studies to name here, one which has always stuck with me saw hundreds of students asked to write an essay. All students received feedback. For half of the students, an extra sentence was randomly added at the end of the feedback with these words: “I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you”. Fast forward one year and students who randomly received this sentence were performing at higher levels than those who did not receive it.
As parents and carers, we are most often our children’s first and most enduring teacher. While our relationship as parents differs to that of teachers, the power of our beliefs is also incredibly significant. I was reminded of this recently when an alumna shared with me about the impact her parents had on her entrepreneurial journey. Lauren Holder, a recent graduate (Class of 2019) started her business when she was in Grade 5 and since then the business has evolved and grown to now generate more income than most parents earn in a year. Lauren reflected on just how powerful for her encouragement from parents had been. Instead of shutting down her business ideas they told her to persevere. Lauren observed, “I have had friends come up with their own business ideas but who never chose to progress further after their parents told them it was a bad idea, or that they wouldn’t make any money. I had lots of bad ideas until I came up with a good one. I may have never reached that good idea if they [my parents] hadn’t continued to remain positive and encouraging.”
Like most adults, young people are full of self-doubt about who they are and what they can achieve. They are acutely aware of their weaknesses and from their teachers, coaches and parents alike they need to regularly hear, “You are better than you think you are”. It is easy to do this with young people who appear motivated but it is even more important to communicate positive beliefs and expectations to students who appear to be struggling and unmotivated.
Most of all students need to know that they matter. In a world of hyper-comparison and fuelled by social media, it is all too easy for young people to lose sight of the fact that they are uniquely and wonderfully made. As an Anglican school, we continue to reinforce this message to students as it aligns with our belief that every student is intrinsically valuable and infinitely precious.
Through our words and actions all adults have the opportunity to reframe for young people who they are and how they imagine the journey they are on.
One of the ways we communicate to young people our belief and high regard for their efforts and progress is by the simple act of turning up. Over the next few weeks I would encourage you and your families to do just that – whether it be visiting Poimena to see the extraordinary art of our TCE students, attending the TCE Drama production in Week 9 or even making your way to Lake Barrington to support our rowers over the next two weekends.
I am very proud of how each of our students are progressing in many areas as it is their progress, rather than their performance, which is what we want to measure. I am sure that is what you too will be noticing when you come along to one of these events. I look forward to seeing you there.