Runcorn State High School is preparing to welcome around 220 Year 7 and Year 8 students in 2015. Two of the school’s current Junior Secondary teachers, Bronwyn Darben, an English and social studies teacher, and Chris Godde , a mathematics teacher, share what they think is the most exciting part about teaching young adolescents, and how they are planning to support these new students as they adjust to high school.
What is the best thing about teaching Junior Secondary students?
Bronwyn: “Students in the Junior Secondary years, which from next year will be Years 7 to 9, are so enthusiastic. If you can get them excited about something, you can keep them going, and get them learning. That is what’s really exciting for me—their enthusiasm feeds yours as a teacher.”
Chris: “Young adolescents are full of ideas and innovation and I really believe that they have the opportunity to make something great out of their lives. I’m always telling them that it’s all about the choices they make, so if they are putting in their utmost and they are trying their best, there is nothing they can’t achieve at school.
“Students in the early years of high school are hungry for knowledge and full of hope and expectancy for the future. I’m proud to be able to contribute to their lives. It’s very exciting.”
How important is connecting with students?
Bronwyn: “I think developing rapport is very important for learning and I think establishing respect within the classroom is at the heart of developing a good relationship with students. It’s a two-way street – teachers must respect students and the students must respect their teachers.
“It can be basic things that make a big difference, so I take the time to get to know my students’ outside interests as well, so I can have conversations about how football went on the weekend or how their dance concert went.
Chris: “I agree, kids don’t care about my skillset or expertise unless they know that I value them. So I spend a lot of time trying to build rapport with my students. I try to connect with their interests, and understand their history and background.
“When they know that I care about their performance and that their success means something to me, I see the kids come alive. They lift more, they give more.”
Are students encouraged to join in activities outside of the classroom?
Chris: “School is more than just learning in the classroom. One of the wonderful things about Junior Secondary is the opportunities students have to get involved in some of the community service activities organised by Runcorn State High School. Our kids are involved in World Vision, the Red Kite charity and numerous environmental projects, which bring the outside world into the school and helps students to see that they part of a much larger community.”
How does Runcorn State High School support students?
Bronwyn: “The school runs the Rippa Attitude program as part of our student wellbeing syllabus, which is about developing positive relationships and a positive attitude. For those students that need some extra assistance, we also have student services, student liaison and a guidance counsellor who all work together to provide extra support.”