As the transition co-ordinator and a humanities teacher at Marcellin College, Liam Parker understands the challenges young students face when starting secondary school.
“Most grade 6 students have been in the same primary school for seven years, so they feel so at home there and any new place will feel daunting,” Liam says.
“They are anxious about new teachers, that they’ll get lost at school and they’re going to be the small kids again.”
In his role, Liam works with students to ensure there is a smooth and stress-free transition from primary school. He is an integral part of the year 7s’ academic lives and their first steps into secondary school.
“Marcellin works closely with primary schools to support each young man’s transition into their new faith-learning community,” Liam says.
“I help organise a number of events and activities that involve our newest students. They get to know each other, feel welcome at the school and get accustomed to life here.”
Marcellin also offers a transition program to ensure students have connections at the school before they start.
“There’s a special pre-transition program for kids who come to the school who are the only students from their primary school,” Liam says.
“We have a day where they all get together and form positive relationships before their first day at Marcellin, so they’re not so alone on that first day.
“There’s also our transition day, where all the students come together for the first time. They work out where their pastoral class is, what house they’ll be in, and they meet the other year 7s.”
Marcellin allows year 7 students to settle into the school at the start of the year by having only them and year 12 students on campus for the first day of classes. “They get to know the biggest kids in the school and it breaks down that whole stigma of the ‘big kids’ and the ‘little kids’.”
The school also runs a year 7 orientation camp at Lake Dewar Lodge, near Bacchus Marsh, which allows students to bond and form new friendships.
These programs help students to find their feet quickly and to put their excitement and energy into their studies.
Liam, like the new crop of year 7 students, started at Marcellin this year (it is his 11th year as a teacher). He worked in primary and secondary schools in Adelaide and London before settling in Melbourne to work at Marcellin with its welcoming Marist traditions.
“I’ve worked in Catholic schools my whole career, so being part of the Catholic community is really important for me,” he says.
“Marcellin, being Marist, promotes family spirit as a key value, and this is hugely beneficial for student transition.
“The reputation of Marcellin is that ‘all students are known’, so that was really important for me also.”
I have learned …
You need to get to know the kids you’re teaching.
See the funny side
You need to maintain a sense of humour.
It’s important to be authentic and genuine in the classroom. Be yourself.
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