Torch - Fall 2016

Student Experience

Being Explicit We make a point of talking openly and directly about confidence so that it becomes top of mind for students. Assuming that our girls will develop confidence just because they are in a wonderful school isn’t enough. Instead, we are explicit and deliberate about the skills, habits and abilities that cultivate confidence. The behavioural norms we are promoting in the Junior School this year exemplify this approach. We explain why you welcome and shake the hand of someone you meet. We discourage running in the halls, not because it’s rambunctious, but because students lose the opportunity to make eye contact and greet others by name as we pass them. Our students wear the uniform with pride because it is a symbol of our belief in each other and our school. And we teach our girls to hold the door for other people as a way of saying: I will take care of you . Explicitly emphasizing habits that honour and include others helps our students to build community, connection and self-confidence. We believe that naming and explaining what we do make our initiatives real and relevant to the lives of our girls.

Supporting, Rather than Affirming To encourage risk-taking, we also provide a network of support that reassures our students in times of need without undermining their role as active agents in their own progress. We have created a culture of trust, where each student knows that people are there to support and encourage her. We also emphasize that support and gratuitous affirmation are not the same thing. Influenced by the widespread “affirm-me” culture that has been created by social media, girls can seek a constant stream of validation from others. With the democratization of celebrity, there is pressure for girls to become style queens with an emphasis on surface over substance. To offset this effect, we focus on creating adult and peer support structures that are genuine and health-promoting. From teaching girls how to advocate for themselves and champion each other to our faculty and staff adopting a deeply respectful and student- centred approach, we support rather than gratuitously affirm our girls so they are powered from within as they navigate their world.

Senior School students meet in a Teacher Advisor (TA) group. TA groups are held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.


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