Caring Learning Environments
Mr Brett Hartley, Principal
Students, parents and teachers invest a great deal of time and emotional energy into helping our students to learn and achieve to the best of their ability.
Parents seek to structure a home life that is conducive to completing homework, assignments and studying for exams. Teachers construct a classroom environment where a diverse range of students can learn new things and improve their fundamental skills.
In turn, we hope that our students will engage in the learning process and achieve a range of important, positive learning outcomes.
In our community
Sadly, in a sinful and broken world this positive ideal isn’t as easy to achieve as it might sound. In a community of over 800 students there are always going to be some students, teachers or parents struggling with personal issues. Sometimes there will be students who choose to do the wrong thing and adversely affect the learning of others.
I am thankful for the positive working relationship between teachers and parents as the teachers seek to wisely manage situations that arise that may disrupt learning. I recently spoke to Mr Smith, our Head of Secondary, about the tone of learning in Years 7 to 12. He enthusiastically commented on how settled his section of the school has been. Mr Carter shared similar sentiments to me yesterday about the Junior School.
Another, much less discussed, factor affecting student learning and behaviour is sleep. A large-scale British national survey of 10,000 children between the ages of 3 and 11 revealed some concerning information about children who have variable bedtimes:
- They are more likely to receive lower scores in maths, reading and spatial awareness tests.
- Their mothers and teachers reveal that these children have worse social behaviour.
- They are more likely to have lower self-esteem and be less satisfied with their physical bodies.
- Other research has also revealed that poor sleep patterns in childhood increase the risk of emotional and behavioural problems in adolescence and beyond.
When considering teenagers and sleep, the National Sleep Foundation in the USA recommends that teens sleep between 8 and 10 hours per night. There is substantial evidence that when teenagers have less sleep than this their learning is adversely affected and they are possibly more predisposed to take dangerous risks.
Some simple, practical tips that may help students to sleep well and therefore achieve to the best of their ability at school include:
- Going to bed at the same time eachnight.
- Not going to bed dehydrated. Drink water rather than fruit juice or soft drink withdinner.
- If at all possible don’t allow any technology in children’s bedrooms, particularly mobilephones.
- Don’t allow children to use technology in the last half hour before they go to bed.
I’m sure that many parents are already adopting these approaches; however,
I trust that these reflections are helpful.