From the Assistant Principal, Student Development

Claire Melloy - Assistant Principal, Student Development

Claire Melloy - Assistant Principal, Student Development

On Monday, Dr Justin Coulson gave a series of presentations to students, staff and parents. They were all extremely well-received.  As a result, we are looking at developing a close and ongoing relation with Justin, having him return to the College to work with our community in a variety of ways, with the ultimate aim of helping our young people thrive. 

Justin talked about the College values and the word compassion. Com meaning us, with, together and passion meaning to suffer or to sacrifice for something. He asked the students, “What will you give up (sacrifice) for what is meaningful to you?”

To Year 11: how to make Year 12 your best year yet

Justin spoke about overcoming the 3 Ds - doubt, distraction and drudgery, telling them that doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

He suggested that the way to overcome self-doubt is to decide.

To commit to 10 minutes of genuine work each day: 

  1. decide
  2. just start
  3. commit to 10 minutes
  4. don’t break the chain
  5. do the work and then find the inspiration.

The way to overcome distraction is through discipline. He gave students options for managing the distraction of their devices and making the cue invisible: 

  1. action - not distraction
  2. busy does not equal productive
  3. shut down the phone for two hours a day for study
  4. create routines
  5. don’t take breaks from distraction, take breaks from focus.

The way to overcome drudgery is through deep work:

Time X Intensity= high quality results:

  1. spacing effect – forgetting helps you learn
  2. practise retrieval - retrieval is harder than recognition
  3. teach someone else.

Justin also emphasised the fact that the ATAR is not the only pathway. Increasingly, more and more pathways are available to our young people, and a lack of motivation at times is normal and may not be a problem. 

To Year 9: respectful relationships

Justin emphasized the importance of being an upstander not a bystander

He talked about why it is seemingly ‘cool’ to be disrespectful, explaining that adolescents do more harmful things when their friends are doing them. 

Are friends bringing out the best in each other? 

He called for more respect in relationships:

  1. call it when you see it
  2. see the other person as a person
  3. remember kindness is cool. 

“The funny thing is, nobody ever really knows how much anybody is hurting. We could be standing next to someone who is completely broken and we wouldn’t even know it.” 

To Staff: tricky conversations

Justin presented to staff on the topic of tricky conversations, highlighting the importance of relationships. He reminded us that the word discipline actually means to teach, to guide, to instruct, not to punish. 

He talked about the importance of affective statements which force empathy and alternative perspectives, e.g. ‘I am furious that you would treat someone like that’ or ‘I’m thrilled to see you make more of an effort.’  

He also distinguished these from praise and talked about the dangers of praise, saying that praise can actually lessen self-worth.  

He spoke about emotion and said that high emotion means lower intelligence in that moment, therefore the capacity to regulate emotion is key. 

He spoke about the three Es:  explore, explain, empower. 

Explore: Tell me why? What’s going on?
Explain: A clear rationale - explain to me why we do what we do
Empower: How can I help? What do you think? Where to from here? 

Remember that if this happens again. What do we do? 

To parents and carers: tools to help your adolescent thrive

Justin explained the biggest challenges for our young people (and us) are unsafe and unhealthy decisions and mental health. 

He took questions from the audience and showed that most of the questions could be answered with the four things that young people need from their parents: love, limits, laughter and hope. 

1. Love: which to a young person means TIME with them. “Your teenager needs you the most when they pretend they don’t need you at all”. I LOVE YOU. NO. MATTER. WHAT.

2. Limits: You aren’t their best friend. The most effective way to set limits is with the three Es listed above:

Explore: I’m worried about this. Tell me why I’m worried about this.  Write them down.
Explain: a clear rationale
Empower: guide them to smart, healthy decisions and give them a sense of autonomy and choice. 

Justin’s favourites:

  • get curious, not furious
  • understand, not reprimand
  • explore, not explode.

3. Laughter 

4. Hope:

  • school will come and go
  • what’s important to your young person?
  • there are lots of pathways – there is a way to get there
  • agency – help them believe they can do it.






To Home