One Size Fits All

One Size Fits All

Thursday, 6 June 2019  | Ben - Primary Coordinator

As some of you may be aware, our household welcomed its newest addition on April 20 this year. ‘Baby Joel’ (as he is affectionately called by his two older brothers) weighed in at 4.33kg and was on the 95th percentile (and above) for all other measurements. 5 weeks in, and all is going well.

Each time Bec and I have been blessed with the arrival of a new child, the comparisons are often drawn to our other children straight away: the chubby cheeks, the smile, and, as they age, how similar and different their personalities are. One friend recently asked Bec, “Have you only got the one mould?” To be fair, our boys are all a spitting image of one another.

Now that our eldest, Isaiah, attends the Kindergarten at MECS, it’s interesting to see how he engages with his friends, what he takes away from each Kinder session, and how that all plays out at home. We observe how he relates to his younger brothers, as well as with us, his parents. Isaiah is now operating in the world around him and he is forming his own story and worldview, just as his two younger brothers are. Each of us has a story that we work from; this includes the students within our classrooms.

At MECS, in any given classroom, we have upwards of 20 students all operating out of their own story. Complementing each child’s story is the fact that God has uniquely created and individually gifted each one of them. With this knowledge, every day, our staff respond to each student’s own needs and abilities. The school leadership team and Board structure the environment, expectations and culture of MECS to align with these values and beliefs. The Transformational Education book that MECS released in 2014 is testament to this, and one tool that is used by staff to foster this across the school.

One of the chapters in Transformational Education is entitled ‘Nurturing Diversity’. In this, the author suggests that “Human beings, too, are diverse in their abilities, giftings, backgrounds, interests … and are an integral part of the body of Christ.” (p.43). From this, we see that our role as educators, no matter the role we play within the MECS community, is to nurture and celebrate these differences. What an incredible honour! This is explicitly seen within our classrooms, and in the interactions that staff have with their students. The book goes on to further explain that “…the teacher will be aware of individual differences, and provide every student with the rich learning experiences and learning environments that facilitate effective learning for all, while extending them to the full range of their potential ability.” (p.43)

Having previously taught at two schools in the government sector, as well as working from my own educational story as a child, it is evident that for years, the education system has very much been structured within a framework in which students are ‘expected to fit’. While this works for many, it does not work for all, and the ‘one size fits all’ mentality of the broader education realm is fast becoming obsolete. For a long time, MECS has been a pioneer in the pursuit of creating engaging, differentiated, God-centered curriculum. We think of Ranges TEC, and the work that has been done to open up pathways for our ‘hands on’ students; the Butterfly Centre, in the Primary School, has been a recent response to cater for students who have diverse learning needs that are best accommodated in a relaxed, small group setting. Headed by our wonderful Louise Griffiths, this program has widely been heralded as a success, and is gaining traction amongst the Christian Education Network (CEN) of schools. As a school, we will continue to be innovative and grounded in God. This is our core business; this is what we do at MECS.

Another area of focus in the Transformational Education book is centred around rich and active learning. At MECS, we do this in many ways. Walk around our classrooms and you will see flexibility in the way rooms are set up for learning. This includes bean bags, stand up desks, whiteboard tables, as well as students working on the floor, or in outdoor spaces. A lot of choice is given to our students, and our teachers and Learning Assistants work with them to find what complements their learning style. Support or extension is provided in small group and one-on-one settings to those students who require it. Withdrawal rooms and headphones are available for students who struggle with noise or the busyness within a room. Fiddle toys are available to help our kinesthetic learners (who love to move) remain focussed and attentive during teaching time. Body breaks are another way of ensuring our students remain engaged for longer. Curriculum, too, is modified, in both reducing expectation, as well as extending students based on where they sit in the given continuums of learning.

This is not done by teachers at MECS because we have to. This is integrated into our classrooms and is our daily approach because we believe it is good practice, and because we have seen that it yields great success for each of our students… no matter where they are at in their learning. My three boys may look similar, but I know that God has created them each with their own unique personality and talents. Just as I will care for the individual needs of each of my boys, MECS will continue to cater to the individual needs of each of our students. We do our best to support each child and young person, however, and where ever possible. We do this because we see each of their God-given individual needs, purpose, potential, and value. What a privilege and honour it is to be part of this community.


Got something to add?

  • Your Comment