One of the most common research areas in global learning throughout the past two years has been around the term ‘academic balance’. This is not just in schools, it is applicable to almost all settings. With the impacts of COVID on many work environments, a new meaning has been enlightened on what ‘balance’ really is and isn’t in terms of learning, efficiency, effectiveness and community connection.
For the past two years, a major focus for Scotch Oakburn has been the embedding of our SOC2035 Strategic Strands. These strands combined strive to ensure that our learners, our people and our community experience and flourish in a holistic learning experience. At the heart of this is the explicit teaching and learning with our College’s Learner Attributes. These attributes are critical if we are going to achieve a ‘sense of balance’ in learning.
At this time of every Term, a feeling of due work and upcoming assessment tasks fill the air and conversations are heard in and around the Middle School learning studios. These set learning tasks, assessments or tests are all part of a holistic approach, but they are not everything! They are important but underneath the test result or score is much deeper learning. The chance to learn more about yourself as a learner is just as important in this process. Self-reflections such as ‘how have I time managed my learning?’, ‘did I ask deep questions?’, ‘have I explored a concept deeper or worked well with others?’. These will all significantly contribute to achieving a holistic experience, an emphasis on process and product is the ‘balance’ intended.
Often I am asked about the importance of formal test scores. My response is all about balance. At times it is really important to prepare well for a known test and do your best at it, at other times it is just as important to test yourself and not wait to be asked to be tested. Put yourself forward and find out more about your own abilities. This could mean joining a new team, accepting an invite for an art project, choosing a camp experience based on your interests and not following your peers, or being a leader for a new student for a day. We must all keep the perspective that we need to have balance in all aspects of our learning: academic, social, emotional and physical.
Some of the greatest advice I can share is that ‘academic balance’ is never achieved for long! Keep finding yourself in respectful dynamic teams, where you learn from the attitudes, attributes and knowledge of your teammates. Use this to then be best prepared for the known formal tests and also for the ‘testing moments’ where you need to be creative, analytical and ethical. In short, be ready for the known headwinds and the unpredictable storms!