A Culture of Thinking, Leader in Me and Academic Care at Masada College

More about the Culture of Thinking

Taking our inspiration from the Project Zero research team at Harvard University, our Culture of Thinking has two goals: to nurture students’ thinking dispositions, and to deepen their understanding of content. We help our students develop curious, reflective and critical mindsets, encouraging them to notice thinking and learning opportunities and become eager to take them.

At its core, the Culture of Thinking is about developing dispositions to apply thinking skills while making use of routines to encourage this way of learning. For example, the “See Think Wonder” routine is not an activity set for a certain date, but a method which encourages children to describe, interpret and ask questions about the content of their courses. It also means being flexible with thinking so that students are open to ideas from their peers and answer questions such as ‘what makes you say that?’. It’s not a program that we implement – it’s a Culture of Thinking.
In the classroom, this means that teachers are encouraged to create environments where students make their own connections and conclusions and most importantly, feel safe doing so; where they become an active part of the learning process, realising that learning doesn’t happen to us, but rather, it happens with us.

Masada was one of the earliest adopters of this pedagogy and have now become renowned for it, with other schools coming to us for our Critical and Creative Thinking Courses.

While Ryan Gill, Head of Teaching and Learning Years 7-12 and HSIE Department teacher and Carla Gagliano, Head of Teaching and Learning ELC to Year 6 and Year 2 class teacher, spearhead Masada’s Culture of Thinking, all teachers are involved in study groups which meet fortnightly to discuss how to achieve the teaching goals they’ve set for themselves. Skills such as problems solving, coordinating with others, critical thinking and people management are all acquired by immersing students in a Culture of Thinking, resulting in us producing students who stand out for their confidence and the diversity of their thinking.

More about the Leader in Me

At Masada College we aim to equip our students with the tools to develop life skills and personality traits that will guide them through life in the 21st century. Stephen Covey’s The Leader in Me® program, which is part of our Leading Learning educational package, strongly supports this aim.

Through The Leader in Me® program, each student is introduced to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, enabling them to learn to:

  • Take responsibility for their actions (be proactive)
  • Set goals (start with the end in mind)
  • Prioritise (first things first)
  • Resolve conflicts (win-win)
  • Build effective interpersonal relationships (seek first to understand and then be understood)
  • Communicate effectively with others and work as a team (synergise)
  • Have a balanced lifestyle (sharpen the saw)
  • Create their own vision for success (mission statements)

Not only does incorporating the common language of the 7 Habits into the curriculum as well as into playground activities deepen our students’ understanding of the values that underpin Masada College, it gives them the EDGE they need when they leave the comfort of Masada’s doors and enter the workforce as confident, secure and successful adults.

Academic Care at Masada College

Student wellbeing underpins the educational experience of all students at Masada College, ELC – Year 12. As a College we believe that by providing a supportive and nurturing environment the school contributes to the development of students’ sense of self worth, enthusiasm for learning and optimism for the future (Adelaide Declaration, 2000, p1). The College prides itself on a whole school approach, acknowledging that wellbeing can be influenced by a number of factors, which can impact a student’s learning and connectedness to the classroom.

Academic Care uses the school’s existing organisational structures of classroom teachers (ELC – Y6) and Year Patrons (Y7 – Y12) to promote well-being in an inclusive environment. The College believes all educators are teachers of well-being and are responsible for ensuring that students’ needs are met in a nurturing and supportive environment. Our student wellbeing program is based on the College ethos and is delivered through a variety of structured programs and experiences.

In the Senior School, Each year is cared for by their Patron who is the link between students, staff and parents. It is the Patron who greets students on their first school day, provides them with buddies if they join throughout the course of the year and accompanies students on camps. They are their ‘parent figure’ at school. Patrons keep a close watch on not only the academic needs of their students but also their emotional and social needs. They do this by observing the students in the classroom situation and in the playground; by liaising regularly with parents and staff.
The Patrons hold a fortnightly meeting with all the staff in their year groups, at which each student in the grade are discussed in order to gain an impression of their overall progress or any issues that may be emerging. Our aim is to be proactive rather than reactive to situations. Discussions with parents and/or students may be initiated from the information gleaned at Patron meetings.
Prior to commencing in Year 7 the Patron organises an orientation program in Term 4 as part of our transition programs for Senior School. In the first weeks of Year 7 the Patron takes the cohort on a three day camp where the activities are aimed at allowing students to build relationships with each other and with staff.

The Patron is the first port of call for parents who have a general concern about their child or information that may affect a student’s performance or behaviour, such as events on the homefront, which the Patron will then disseminate, as appropriate, to staff.

Each year group has a weekly meeting time with their patron, where issues can be discussed but this is also when our student wellbeing program is enacted. Students are engaged in programs that are specific to each year group and are based on topics that may be affecting students during this time of their life. Our program touches on topics such as study skills, stress management, cyber safety, healthy relationships, drugs and alcohol awareness and students are fortunate enough to be addressed by industry professionals, specialising in adolescent development and wellness.These topics are also covered for parents on our very informative School TV on the home page of the Masada website.

Parent/Teacher Nights are held twice a year but feedback can be given to parents at any time of the year and Patrons are able to supply informal reports to parents on request or as needed.

Led by our College Counsellor, our Senior School Learning Support Team works with students with specific additional needs. These needs are diverse and range from issues with handwriting, perceptual difficulties, comprehension issues to difficulty with breaking down assignments.

For International students, we have additional support through the enrolments office, as well as an external guardianship service, that liaise between the College and the students’ parents, ensuring each International student is settling well into life at Masada College and in Australia.

Taking our inspiration from the Project Zero research team at Harvard University, our Culture of Thinking has two goals: to nurture students' thinking dispositions, and to deepen their understanding of content. This is why we help our students develop curious, reflective and critical mindsets, encouraging them to notice thinking and learning opportunities and become eager to take them.

Our teachers are skilled in planning learning programs that actively encourage thinking and metacognition. Unlike any other school in Australia, all our teachers attend fortnightly study groups, sharing ideas and research to enrich our students’ learning experiences.

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We encourage students to explore, strive for and achieve academic excellence. Each of them has the opportunity to develop and widen their skills and interests through our differentiated curriculum, together with our enrichment, extension and learning support programs.

We support our students to enjoy and find meaning in learning and understand that it involves experiences beyond the classroom. Our intention is for our students to graduate with a life-long love of learning.

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