“People care about you.” “Everyone is all on-deck and ready for anything.”
“Matthews Hall feels like a home because my child likes coming here and I would much rather have her come here than any other school. She can be herself.”
“Everybody at Matthews Hall makes sure that everything is all right, and watches out for you.”
“The teachers are always there to help the students in any way they can.”
“The teachers don’t have to ask for my son’s name; they know him, and every teacher has a special connection to him. They make him feel loved and welcomed – at home.”
These are a few of the comments shared with us at yesterday’s “Back-to-School” night. We hope that you can already begin to see your own child’s experience reflected in these sentiments – or will come to see them, as we journey together this year. Thank you for your presence and participation last night. It was encouraging to see so many parents in our school after two years of separation. Belonging is always an important part of our work together.
When students feel a sense of belonging in their school, it can improve their educational success and motivational outcomes in multiple ways. Our MH teachers help create this feeling of belonging by building connections between our classrooms and our community – and, importantly, with your family.
What does belonging feel like? A sense of belonging at school means feeling accepted, respected, included, and supported in the learning environment. Students who feel this sense of belonging at school are typically more energized, more likely to spend time on-task, and return to activities. They are also more likely to choose to be in a school environment now and in the future.
Students who don’t feel a sense of belonging sometimes struggle to devote their full cognitive attention to tasks and can experience challenges with overall wellness. These feelings can manifest themselves in unwanted behaviour or challenging attitudes that don’t really reflect who they are deep down – seeing the “diamond in the rough” is part of what we do and one of the most exciting aspects of teaching.
At Matthews Hall, the learning environment is infused with a generosity that is vital to our work with kids. It can be seen, heard, and directly observed. And we know that, like in any home, words, gestures, and example are what set the “temperature” in the school “house”.
By working together this year, we can look forward to many possibilities. Our students will learn a lot about themselves and others – and so will we!
As the adults in the lives of Matthews Hall children, we will form an effective partnership by having high standards combined with rigorous support. We will also adopt a community orientation that lets students know that they have the safety to be wrong sometimes – because it’s by making mistakes we can see that our kids are actually being ambitious.
And, I hope we can agree, such ambition (i.e., a strong determination to succeed!) is a large part of why we are here in the first place!
Ric Anderson, Head of School