Each morning across the Port Macquarie Hastings region many thousands of students walk through their school gates.
Some enter their school because the law requires them to be at school. Some because they recognise that a good education is a key to a life of opportunities and others because……So many individuals, so many motivations.
If you drive past a school, it is instructive to see the attitude towards going to school reflected in the way students walk and talk.
For some it appears that schooling is very much an ordeal to be faced, rather than an opportunity to be grasped.
For others it appears that the social aspect of schooling and the potential for growth both excite and motivate their stride.
Each morning at St Columba, nearly twelve hundred students walk into our school.
Most mornings I get to see most of them as they approach the stairs and head into the embrace of the School.
“When you walk onto a school campus, you can immediately get a sense of the school climate by watching the interactions between people and noticing the school’s physical environment…Do the teachers, students, and school leaders seem happy to be there and are they treating each other with respect? Is the school clean and orderly? Are students engaged in their learning?”
How to Create a Positive School Climate, V. Zakrzewski, 2013
Overwhelmingly, despite forgotten ties, musical instruments left on the bus, uniform malfunctions and last minute assessment rushes, the atmosphere at our entrance is positive.
Our students smile, they greet friends, they fist bump, rush to basketball, to running group or join their fellow band members or choristers.
They huddle together in shared interest and the joy of friendship.
It is wonderful to see and constantly reminds me that a school is much more than its buildings, its academic results or its uniform.
A school is a community and like all communities it is the attitude of those who choose to join that make the difference in what can be achieved.
That difference can not only be seen in the happiness and engagement of the students and their willingness to climb those steps into school each day but also in the results they achieve.
“School culture and school climate are intangible, but essential elements within a school environment. Climate is more relational; it is illustrated by the attitudes and behaviors of the school staff and is focused on the style of the school’s organizational system. Whereas, culture is a deeper level of reflection of shared values, beliefs, and traditions between staff members. …. Positive school cultures provide a safe, supportive, encouraging, inviting, and challenging environment for students and staff, which in turn allows students’ academic achievement to evolve.” The Importance of a Positive School Culture.
A positive school culture and climate does not mean that our students get it “easy”.
In fact an environment where opportunity and challenge co-exist seems almost mandatory in ensuring that schooling is a positive and developmental experience.
An environment of trust is essential for a positive school culture.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R. Covey
Part of growing a positive school attitude is about growing trust – getting people to trust each other and getting people to develop positive relationships with each other.
We accept and value the trust parents place in the school to guide and educate their children. We need to be able to show parents that they can trust the school’s structures and staff to provide a professional, safe learning environment, where we limit distractions, while promoting opportunities.
After that it is up to the students to choose to take up the opportunities laid before them.
If they take advantage of what we offer, we know that our School will remain a positive and fruitful environment and that can make all the difference.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln.
Attitude really is a matter of choice.
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School