In the most recent issue of Grammar News, we asked a couple of our student leaders to provide their perspective of what it is like to be a student at Oakleigh Grammar, and any new ideas that they’d like to share which could enhance their overall learning experience and prepare students for the future. Student voice is essential and provides our students with the opportunity to actively shape their own education. As a School, we value the opinions of students and act on them in a way that helps form the decision-making at Oakleigh Grammar.
Below is an interview with Maria who is currently in Year 9 and is the Fraser House Captain.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what is one thing you really enjoy?
My name is Maria and I am 14 years old. I have a sister, who is 18 years old. I also used to have a dog a couple of years ago. I do karate, and I have done it for 10 years. I used to do swimming as well, which I did for 12 years. I have competed in the Schools swimming EISM team, and last year made it to championships. I enjoy listening to music based on my mood. I feel as though it calms me and allows me to enjoy myself and be free.
What is it like being a student here?
There are many characteristics that I have seen over the years that make up being a student at Oakleigh Grammar. The qualities that Oakleigh Grammar promotes include striving for your best, developing character, and growing as a leader. Throughout my time at this School, even though I haven’t been here for as long as some of my fellow peers, I have seen and been through all these characteristics, and I am continuing to grow every day. This school has a very friendly environment, with kind staﬀ and students.
What do you like most about being a student here?
I like that the teachers are very supportive and caring, and that all the students in each cohort get along very well and support each other.
Imagine you are the principal – what would you do diﬀerently to improve things for your classmates?
I had to think about this question a lot. I think that the staﬀ and students at our School are good, and so are the School’s programs that are set in place. I also think that the virtues and standards we are taught and are expected to uphold are valuable.
One thing I would change is to give students more opportunities to see what after high school will be like. I feel that if we introduce this earlier, students will have a clearer understanding of what the future may be like, we can do this by hearing stories from teachers about their own experiences of their post high school journey.
Do you have a lot of chances to speak up and share your ideas in this School?
I believe that we do have the opportunities to speak up and share ideas at this School. We have many chances to speak to the SRC representatives throughout years 6-11. We can also speak to our home group teachers and the year level coordinators, about any ideas or concerns that we have in our School.
How important is it for you to get the chance to speak up and make presentations in School?
I feel that it is very important to have the opportunity to speak up and have a chance to contribute to changes that could aﬀect future generations. The actions that we make in the present, can aﬀect our children, our grandchildren, and hundreds of future generations.
What can your teachers do to make you feel more heard and supported?
Teachers and students can have more conversations to build a relationship, which will allow the students to approach them more comfortably and conﬁdently. If we know a teacher very well, we will not be afraid to express our opinion, and if we are ever stuck, the teacher can help us get around the problem. This can develop greater trust between the student and the teacher.
What kind of classroom environment do you learn best in?
I learnt best in both quiet and interactive environment. If it is a subject I struggle with, I like to work in a quieter environment, because I like to ask questions and try to understand the topic to the best of my abilities without any disruptions. However, if I enjoy the subject and understand it very well, I like to have open conversations with my peers and have a chance to ask more diﬃcult questions, to gain a better and more complex understanding of the topic.
Have you had a learning experience that was outside of the normal classroom?
I ﬁnd that camps and excursions are all learning experiences. When at a camp, we learn the value of friendship and risk-taking. During excursions, we have a chance to gain an understanding of a topic we are learning from a different perspective. In Year 8, on the last week of school, we went into the city to go to a museum. We were able to explore the museum in our groups by ourselves for a certain amount of time. While I was with my group, I looked all around the museum and I learnt so much. I learnt how amazing technology is and just how quickly it is developing.
I remember there was this one interactive game that was science based, so I decided to do it. I had to add positive and negative atoms into an object to see what would happen. It was so incredible just thinking about how technology can help us so much with our learning.
Why was that particular experience so eﬀective for you?
That experience was so eﬀective and stood out to me because it made me realise that you don’t only need to be in a classroom environment to learn, and that even by doing an activity you are still learning and making connections between subjects or topics.
What excites you about the future?
One thing that deﬁnitely excites me for the future is learning more about myself and seeing where life takes me. Seeing where I will be in 5 years, then 10 years, then 20 years and more. Seeing what my career path is going to be, what my friendships will be like, what my family will look like what lessons I’ll learn along the way,
and what mistakes I’ll make. All these things excite me because I will learn so much more about myself, and what my purpose will be in life.
How can the School support you to prepare for that future?
The School can support me by helping and teaching me and other students about how to survive in the real world. They can help teach me about the values and virtues that I will need to use to survive in the real world. The teachers can also give us a taste of what university and life after university is like, and they can teach us the lessons that they have learnt over the years.
What is one thing you learnt this year that you think will be most helpful for you?
I have learnt this year that everything happens for a reason. Whether it is good or bad, it happens for a reason. If something good happens, then that is really good, and you know it was meant to happen in your life. However, if something that you didn’t expect or plan happens, then it is planted in your life to either teach you a lesson you wouldn’t have learnt in another way, or to help build your strength, courage, bravery and resilience. Especially during this Covid-19 period, particularly when we were in strict lockdown, even though it was not the best situation, it taught me to be resilient, and that light will come at the end of the tunnel, sometimes we just have to wait for it.