Last week I became a Year 8 student for the day. To make it as authentic as I could, I shaved off my beard and wore the sports uniform – shorts and all! As I headed off to PC class, my fellow students were enjoying the fun of Mr Costin becoming, ‘Brett, the new boy.’
The Year 9’s invited me to play Touch at lunchtime and I lasted only a few minutes before I was reminded of my actual age by blowing my knee out. However, I did get to see the great way the students form teams and willingly accept all without discrimination.
The reasoning for my return to Year 8 was not to provide entertainment for the staff – although they did enjoy it – but rather to evaluate our College from the perspective of a student; what does it feel like to move from one class to another? How long is spent in the tuck shop line? How does the teacher and lesson make me feel? I was able to ask the students questions like this as we headed to our classes and ate our lunch. They were honest and provided valuable insights. For example, teachers can give too much instruction-too much character advice, especially when it keeps them in at break, (when they haven’t even done anything wrong). I discovered the need to break up lessons more in the afternoon to help retain focus, especially for the boys.
I also learnt that under pressure, I can forget how to spell; I only achieved 19/20 in the spelling test. I failed ‘courteous’ and when I said to the boy beside me, “dang spelt courteous wrong”, he replied, “it’s ok, so did I!
For an entire day back in Year 8, I only got into trouble once. I knocked a student’s elbow so that the jelly he was eating splashed up into his face (please rest assured he is a Year 9 student that I have a good relationship with). I was caught by the Head of Secondary (good to see our staff were on to it) and had to endure a lecture, “Brett, I know this is your first day, but this is not how a student at Victory College behaves. At our College we have restorative practice, so you do need to apologise.” And so, I had to stand up and apologise to the student. All good fun!
Overall, it was a great day that proved very valuable. Not only was I rewarded with some beneficial insights, I learnt that our Year 8 cohort are really great kids, with a good sense of humour and kind hearts, and our teachers do an amazing job. I am truly proud to be a part of our fantastic College.