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Being a Worthy Citizen.

In schools, we often measure our success by numbers, data and results. This alone, isn’t enough and the recent bushfire devastation has reminded me of this.

It doesn’t matter what part of our wonderful country you live in, there is no doubt you would be touched in some way by the horrific tragedy of the bushfires. I feel for the many families who have been directly affected by losing loved ones, their home, their school or maybe just their favourite holiday spot. I am sure it’s been a very difficult Christmas and New Year period.

As January progresses, there are lots of teachers and students around Australia who are preparing to return to the classroom for the 2020 school year, and I couldn’t help but think about how this recent devastation could play out in classrooms and staffrooms.

I could talk about the big issues that would generate interesting debate. These issues include areas around leadership, global warming and forest management techniques. Like most people, I have an opinion but I’m not well placed to talk about any of these issues so I’ll leave them alone today.

What I will talk about is something that I have been drawn to throughout this whole crisis and for me, it has been quite heart-warming and uplifting.

As I’ve watched the response from millions of Australians to the bushfire crisis, many of them young people, it has reinforced to me the importance of our role in contributing to the creation of great citizens. It’s not something we can do alone and I’m not shifting the responsibility away from families but in schools, it’s something we can contribute too. 

The message we can share across our classrooms and one we should be proud of, is during challenging times, we have seen so many people doing their best and modelling the traits of being a great citizen.

It’s easy to get caught up in the bad things, the naughty kids, the poor behaviour. It’s also easy to just measure NAPLAN, VCE and PISA results when making a judgement on our progress. Let’s not forget the great things, the great kids, and the outstanding contributors that make our classrooms and school communities thrive every day. It’s the same in our broader community.

I often sit back and reflect on the complex job of a teacher and the important role they play in shaping the lives of our young people to not only be great learners, but also great citizens. 

I could give you examples of the thousands of volunteer firefighters putting their own life at risk or the average person who has made a financial donation, a donation of groceries or a donation of clothing. The list goes on. I also believe that we have only seen the start of this generosity and I’m confident we’ll see great things happen from school communities when they open their doors in late January.

In schools, we know the importance of collaboration and working together. We also know that we want our young people to be empathetic, compassionate and put others ahead of themselves. These skills and traits are hard to measure but it’s the large number of selfless acts of kindness over the last few months that we can harness and build on in our schools. 

As you prepare for your first class for the 2020 school year, let’s continue to prepare our kids to be great citizens and make sure that when we are faced with challenge or adversity, we collaborate, we work together and we support each other.  

I’ll leave you with this…. Teaching – it’s not just about results, it’s about being a positive role model who mentors, leads and teaches young people to be the best they can be in life.

Go well in 2020 and best wishes to anyone who is still impacted by the devastation of the bush fires.