Tone, Pace and Standards

Each day we are bombarded by news that is not easy to listen to. The news from India regarding the COVID-19 situation is devastating. We have many friends and families from the Indian community who are terribly worried about their families and we continue to pray and support them as we journey through this terrible pandemic. We hear about the vaccine roll-out and the concerns regarding blood clotting, we learn about cuts to funding for organisations serving the homeless such as the Hutt Street Centre and we learn about ongoing breakouts of COVID-19 restricting travel and creating uncertainty in our daily lives.

Nevertheless, today at Cardijn each House celebrated a Good News Assembly and acknowledged students who stood out in Term 1 for their endeavour and support beyond what happens in the classroom. Students recognise that Sunday is the celebration of Mother’s Day and the importance of the role of mother in the family. These two events are life-giving and do make today a day of gratitude.

Over the last two weeks I have been speaking to staff and students about three key areas which I believe are of importance to all of us in these difficult times. Last month I was asked by someone what my role was as principal, what I do from day to day, what is involved in being a principal and what the most important part of my role is. My thoughts immediately turned to making sure we got the best educational outcomes for our students, that I had to make sure that all students and staff can thrive at Cardijn and that everyone felt empowered to be at their best and show leadership.

When I thought about it more, I broke it down as follows. As principal, my responsibility rests with ensuring that the Tone or culture of our school is thriving, that people feel that they belong, they have agency, efficacy and are empowered to be at their best. That the relationships in our community are healthy, working collegially and being supportive. Equally I am responsible for the Pace at which we are all trying our best to reach those outcomes we aspire to. Whether you are a student or a teacher, you must be able to manage the pace of change and the environmental impact on your day-to-day life. It is my job to work with students and staff to make sure that pace is achievable and not detrimental, which results in fatigue and burn-out. I have learnt much from our experience in 2020 and health and well-being are pivotal to achieving the best outcomes. The third area is Standards. The Standards we have set at Cardijn are deeply connected to our faith, our school in the Marist tradition and what the community has come to expect from our school. Standards are in place to ensure and maintain a thriving community and Tone. From time to time when the Pace is overwhelming, our radar or focus may be hampered in ensuring that we meet the standards. A famous author once said: “The standard you walk past is the standard you set”. We cannot afford to lower our Standards because we are too busy or distracted. When standards are compromised or slip then we must do something about it, or inconsistency and poor behaviours will affect the Tone of our community. Yes, the buck stops with me ultimately when we are talking about Tone, Pace and Standards, but the whole community is responsible for these areas especially when it comes to maintaining Standards to the highest levels.

At Cardijn we have recently introduced our mobile phone policy which stipulates that mobile phones are not allowed during lesson time and are either secured in the classroom safety box or in a student’s locker. Students in the middle school have embraced this new rule to ensure that they are not distracted from their learning. We set standards and expectations such as the correct wearing of uniform, the care for our school environment in terms of rubbish and recyclables and the importance of school attendance and punctuality. These are fundamental in making sure that each student has the best opportunity to thrive and be successful.

Tone, Pace and Standards are areas which you will hear a lot more about this term.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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