A supportive environment and an inclusive culture are cornerstones of life at ACG Tauranga, and a new programme for Years 7 to 9 is further strengthening these foundations.
The brainchild of the Middle School teaching team, the values-focused initiative was launched late last year, transforming Friday ‘tutor time’ sessions and empowering students to explore and strengthen their own moral code. Years 7 to 9, Dean Tatyana Duffin explains.
“Originally, the programme was designed as a way to bring ACG Tauranga’s core values of respect, integrity, courage and excellence to life – however, those values quickly expanded. We started last year with a deep dive into the values of care and respect. And at the beginning of this year, we looked at integrity. Right now, we’re exploring inclusiveness, which includes identity and how students see themselves and others, fairness, and finding our voice. Although inclusiveness isn’t specifically identified as one of ACG Tauranga’s four key values, it is essential in today’s changing climate.”
Over four tutor time sessions, each value is unpacked and thoroughly discussed. PowerPoint presentations pave the way for key questions, inspirational videos, conversations and roleplays.
“The values teaching and discussions form about half of our tutor time each Friday, and alongside that, we work together on goal setting and self-evaluation. Students have a personal passport document where they record goals and action plans for the term, share personal highlights, reflect on the values sessions, and consider their own learning dispositions. For example, they might consider questions like: Am I open and ready to learn? Do I value feedback? Am I being kind and inclusive? The sessions are an opportunity for students to reflect on themselves, their values and to implement action.”
But why were the values teaching introduced? “There is definitely a need for us to teach values explicitly. We have new students joining us from a variety of learning pathways, and they all bring different perspectives. The reality is, how can a 12 or 13-year-old be expected to embrace a particular value unless they’ve been shown what it is and given a chance to reflect on and practice it? We always say, ‘kindness comes first’, but if you don’t actually know what that looks like, how can you embody it?”
The programme is proving to be a huge success with teachers and students alike.
“It has given our tutor programme structure and focus and has been a great way of guiding the conversation through these challenging times, regardless of whether students – or teachers – are learning at school or from home. We have loved the opportunity to connect meaningfully with our students. The discussions that arise from the values teaching sessions help us get to know them better and gain insights into how they approach different situations. The students also enjoy the opportunity to sit and connect with their tutor teachers and classmates, with the focus on their social interactions and sense of community.”
So what’s in store for the rest of 2022? “We recently had an amazing presentation from Cybersafety expert John Parsons, so we’re continuing to include his resources about valuing their personal online identity, as well as diving deeper into the concept of courage and how it connects to humility, vulnerability and ultimately, kindness.”