Academic Insights: TCS Grade 9 Program

Grade 9 students participate in the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

How we invest our attention to have a meaningful year is a key theme being explored in the Grade 9 program at Trinity College School as we navigate through to Speech Day in June. The initial prompt was given during a First Connect session in August and became increasingly poignant as the flurry of curricular and co-curricular offerings was unveiled over the first few weeks of September. Starting high school is more than just a cultural rite of passage in a young person’s life, it is the next step of the journey towards greater independence and the skills needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities of a world that seems to be growing increasingly complex. In a very real sense, our attention and the actions we undertake create our reality. 

So where should a Grade 9 student invest their attention? As a parent or caregiver, how can you help your Grade 9 student manage their attention? Three distinct but overlapping places immediately come to mind.

First, relates to their academics. Does your Grade 9 student know that Edsby, our learning management system, details what has been covered in class on any given day and serves as a repository for daily homework tasks? Do they know how to navigate Edsby? Are they checking for evaluation grades and feedback in Edsby? If they see specific suggestions for improvement are they making plans to attend one (or more!) of the academic assistance blocks which are offered daily. Related to this is the student’s organizational strategy. Do they have one? Can they describe it to you in a way that is understandable? Does it seem sustainable? If your student can answer these questions then you can rest assured that, at this point in the year, they are appropriately investing their attention to the appreciable demands of the academic program.

Secondly, what are their co-curricular activities? Grade 9 students are invited to immerse themselves in the School’s rich and diverse sports, arts and service offerings. Are they regularly participating on either a competitive team or in the Activity for Life program? Do they have plans or aspirations for the next term of offerings? Did they select either a service activity or an arts activity yet? What would they like to pursue in these realms? Do they understand that such participation is not only a way to broaden their horizons but also to uncover a hidden talent, or develop an appreciation of a new discipline or gratitude for the opportunities to contribute to our school and local community?

Thirdly, has your student found a sense of belonging in the social realm of the School? In their house, in their classes, in their co-curriculars, have they found a kinship with some of their peers? Are they able to identify classmates they can study with or teammates they can rely on? Relationships are a central part of the Trinity College School experience and underpin our sense of common purpose as we develop learning expertise and curate the co-curricular experiences that typify a well-rounded education. If your student is struggling to find their sense of belonging, do they know that there are academic advisors, teachers, housemasters and, crucially, trained social-emotional counsellors to help them with ways to feel included and connected?

Judging by the joy and laughter of the spirit-building activities held thus far, spending time with others, in person, seems to be an early indication of attention well spent. By extension, studying with others, conversing with others, striving in sport with others is what we once longed for during the most physically and emotionally isolating times of the pandemic.

I encourage you to use the questions provided above to foster a discussion with your student about how they navigate the information and expectations over busy school days. In short, what is commanding their attention?

- By Mr. Mike Harding, Grade 9 coordinator