I recently handed a boarder an envelope and asked them to write his address on it – a simple request, or so I believed. The boarder went away and came back with his email address written across the front of the envelope. I am sure all boarding staff are aware of how the immersion of technology is shaping and developing young people’s social identities. Unfortunately, the rate at which this immersion has taken place often surpasses our own knowledge and understandings leading us to feel less secure and, at times, relatively powerless. How often do you hear boarding staff, academic staff, or parents complain about a student using some type of digital media, or always being on “the phone”? Most educational institutions  address these insecurities by blocking access to certain websites (a little bit harder now with data packages on most phones) or banning the digital media device during certain times of the day and night. In a time of digital and online bullying, privacy issues and general inappropriate use of technology some may say that banning and blocking is justified. I am sure if I wished to start an on-line discussion about “Snapchat” and how boarding communities tried to address this at times, unsavoury digital application, the input would be vast and variable. I also wonder how many of us realise that “Snapchat” is now being used as a marketing tool to cash in on the rapidly growing purchasing power and increased use of digital socialisation by teenagers under the age of eighteen.

Students’ access to technology and digital media, not only to the aforementioned types of applications, but to learning materials and information, is shaping how they learn. Additionally, the increased use of technology and digital media in all educational settings has placed a greater demand on students to learn using these means. Unfortunately, this has also placed increased demands on those involved in the care of students to develop their understanding and competencies of these technologies. Most of us will develop a basic understanding of technological and digital developments to become technologically literate in order to remain productive and to develop and deliver new pedagogies to maintain our primary work function and accountabilities. Conversely, through their increased use of digital information, on-line social networking, ICT, and digital multitasking, students will develop and become digitally literate. There is a clear distinction between the two – someone who has the appropriate skills and competence in using technology (technologically literate) and those that have the ability to communicate, manipulate and function comfortably in an immersed digital environment (digitally literate).

The big question is what does this mean for our boarding communities? If I cast my mind back to 2005, the biggest threat facing many boarding communities at this time was the fact that mobile phones had cameras. Things have come a long way in less than 10 years – Where will they be in another 10 years? Boarding communities need to develop their ability to provide a truly supportive digital learning environment, as opposed to one that offers a simple technological one. They need to create an environment that offers the best opportunities for boarders to learn in a manner best suited to their preferred learning style. The impact of technology in education has resulted in learning becoming a far more collaborative endeavour. This has only been enhanced as wireless networks, smartboards, laptops and tablets have brought with them significant pedagogical change. These technologies, along with smartphones, digital media players and mass storage devices have become the educational norm for students. As the demand on our boarders to be digitally literate in methods of social interaction, learning on-line and communicating increase, there will be a need for them to continually develop their digital literacy. Boarding communities need to ensure that their policies, procedures and infrastructure developments include how boarders interact in their environment which is now saturated with technology and digital media, as well as the societal and social contexts created by this technological and digital immersion.

Effective relationships in education

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
The focus for all staff at The SCOTS PGC College is on developing the individual student into a lifelong learner with a positive self-esteem to succeed, and enable them to develop and engage in an ever changing world. Students spend approximately 7 to 8 hours a day for 10 months of the year with their teachers. Given the amount of time a student spends at school, the ongoing maintenance of quality, positive student/teacher relationships at school is central to a student’s long lasting academic and social development. The outcomes associated with a positive educational experience can vary greatly, given that all students are at a different stage of the learning process. However, the values that students and teachers possess in a quality, positive educational relationship are the same, regardless of educational ability. Values of a quality student/teacher relationship:

Mutual respect, both in and out of classroom.

Good communication and listening.

Interest in teaching – from the teacher’s point of view.

Interest in learning – from the student’s point of view.

For the teacher to value the student’s sense of belonging.

For the student to value each other’s right to learn.

In summary, the key element to quality student/teacher educational relationships is the ability for teachers to learn from their students and students to recognise their ability to succeed. There are many ways that both staff and students can develop quality relationships in their daily interactions with each other. Not only will it contribute to a positive learning environment, but it also improves the quality of school life for everyone – staff , students and parents. We are fortunate at the College that all staff value learning and quality relationships in education. The ability for students to develop into self managed and motivated lifelong learners, underpins their resilience to learning. This enhances quality educational relationships between staff , students and their parents. Staff are well aware of the importance of these relationships in combination with their teaching methodology to help students achieve and go beyond their inherent potential. “It is easier to build strong children than to repair a broken men” – Fredrick Douglass

The relationship between boarding and day school – The SCOTS PGC College

For many day parents, and students, the idea of boarding evokes strong emotions
and though most have a view about it, only a small proportion would have first-hand
experience of it, with most views second hand. Even when first-hand, these views
are likely to be out of date, such is the rate of change in boarding schools. Boarding
has been a long standing tradition at the College and through its progress, policies,
professional staff and enhanced focus on family values has seen it remain both
steeped in this tradition yet remain at the forefront of boarding in Australia.
The College is one of a few unique boarding schools where both the day and
boarding students share in many aspects of daily life. Many traditional boarding
schools are organised in a way that the boarders and day students are segregated
outside of the academic lessons. The House structure and meal times during the
weekdays are two areas that exonerate this segregation, where there is a clear
demarcation between what is the day school and what is the boarding school. On
the other hand the College’s inclusion of both day and boarding students in the Clan
system and the shared meal times during the weekdays (and weekends in some
cases), has disentangled the traditional divide between boarding and day students.
This shared experience does not necessarily stop with the confines of the College
campus. As a Head of Boarding it was always inspiring when a day student would
host a boarder on night or weekend leave or a boarding family would host a day
student for similar leave. This sharing of family life, values and community adds
to the emphasis we place on these core values at the College. The true value and
purpose of a boarding school, for day and boarding students, lies within this sharing.
Through the temporary separation from family, in the discipline of the College, in
the engagement of family values in a community and through the unselfish love of
parents, the true boarding school experience can be shared by all College families.
I would therefore encourage all families to open your doors and welcome students,
either day or boarding, to share in the boarding school experience.
Although they may be labelled as schools, colleges, homes, units, centres or
institutions, all have a focus upon residential or boarding education, the informal
learning which occurs when groups of young people and dedicated staff work
together and share daily activities of life
Ewan W. Anderson, 2005