Our ‘Values in Action’ series shines a light on how our Caulfield Grammar School employees live our School values.
Aaron Steel, Years 7 & 8 Learning Mentor at Caulfield Campus, shares how Embracing Diversity builds a culture of collaboration and community and enhances the student experience.
I started at Caulfield Grammar in Term 1 this year as a Learning Mentor for Year 7s. Each class group in Years 7 and 8 is supported by a Learning Mentor, a second qualified teacher in the learning environment who works with students and subject teachers to ensure the most effective learning is taking place in each class. I accompany my students throughout the range of learning experiences across the year and meet regularly with each student to discuss their learning progress.
Being a Learning Mentor is such a unique and rewarding role because you follow a student on their entire journey and guide them. It typifies what I love about teaching – educating students not only about the curriculum but about understanding themselves as learners.
We have an enormous impact as Learning Mentors and this is not lost on me. It really motivates me. Trying to get to know all the Year 7s and as many other students around the School as possible is a rewarding challenge. There is a real satisfaction in helping students connect with others outside their direct friendship circle. Meeting the Year 6s that come in on Transition Day and then watching them grow each day into confident presenters at exhibitions, music performances and public speaking gives me a real sense of pride. It’s a real team effort between teachers, students and families and I love this pastoral care aspect.
From a professional learning perspective, the Learning Mentor role enables me to get to know the teaching staff across all subjects and develop my understanding of the curriculum so that I can help my students see the interrelationship between all their subjects – from core subjects to Languages, Music and Art.
I also love watching other teachers teach and using what I learn to guide my own practice. They each have different experiences, views and teaching styles and this diversity is so important as each student learns in different ways and will connect with each teacher in different ways. I love emphasising to students how great their teachers are and also sharing their brilliance with staff who may not get a chance to see them in action.
I grew up in a small country town north of Bendigo and I am accustomed to small communities where everyone works together and each person brings something different to the table. From my very first day it was evident to me that Caulfield Grammar is a values-based school and invests time and energy into an environment that maximises the learning for students and instils its values into the School’s day to day learning.
The emphasis on embracing diversity, community and a positive team environment really resonated with me. Students benefit because their teachers love doing what they do and performing at their best which enhances the student experience.
This can be seen in so many day-to-day learning experiences. The ‘Our Culture Book’ was part of my employee induction pack, and the fact that the School has one speaks volumes. We talk about our Values in the classroom and staff are encouraged to explore opportunities within the School. In my first two weeks I got to milk cows in the working Dairy at YJ (Yarra Junction Campus) and experience the amazing Outdoor Education program through the students’ eyes.
The way the School welcomes you in and embraces you as part of the ‘family’ is really special. I have only been here a relatively short time, but working with such diverse, talented and like-minded people who share the same values has already been an incredible experience.