Garin-speak: our institutions and assumptions
Academic achievement is first because we are a school. Personal development and growth is also a crucial part of what we are about, and we try to recognise that in our Awards. Excellence in sport, the arts, and Christian service are important aspects of the development of the person we were created to be, so we recognise that as well.
Careers-based course selection
Students choose courses because of career requirements (or to keep doors open if they have not decided on a career direction). We don’t talk about “options” or “electives” because these words don’t carry the implication of careful long-term planning.
A colloquial expression linking all the elements in the Catholic education system: parish, primary and secondary schools, as well and the local and diocesan support agencies. We see ourselves as being different. We are proud of that difference. And we try to support each other, especially in areas where we build our Special Character.
We come together as a community for liturgies like Ash Wednesday and our Masses, festivals like St Patrick’s Day and Garin Day, sacraments like Reconciliation and Eucharist, prayer in classes, assemblies and on our Journey retreats. All through the year we try to show our students the rich 2000 year tradition they are part of.
The organisation which supports participants and coaches of sports, arts and service in the school in all sorts of ways. To find out more about Garin’s Super Club, please click here.
Doing things differently
We drive into the future looking forward, not obsessed by the rear-view mirror. We want to do the right thing – the effective thing – the thing that research says works. So we challenge ourselves to think outside the box.
The ethos or culture of Garin College is based on the Gospels. We look to Father Garin’s life for examples of how we should live. We work hard to make sure that our Christianity is real and relevant for our young people growing up in a world that has largely turned its back on the Gospels.
“Garin College Recognition”
Each year at our Awards Ceremony a number of students are presented with recognition of their growth as people. This year they could be recognised for growth in such qualities as Effective Communication, Tolerance and respect for others, Friendliness, Compassion/Social Justice, Creativity, Enterprise, Caretaker of Garin spirit/environment, Striving for personal best, Servant leadership: making things happen for others, and Involvement in school life.
This a word from Garin’s first year. If we say we will look after a student, or deal with an issue, we mean it. And if you have concerns, get back to us.
GATE: a door for gifted and talented students
This is our Gifted And Talented Education programme, opening a door or a gate into exciting new learning. We do not stream or band students so we have developed other strategies to ensure that students with particular gifts are catered for. As part of our testing in year 8-9 we look for students who perform particularly well – and they are placed in groups in each of the junior classes. As well, we have programmes designed for students identified in our testing and other students identified by teachers, parents, and the students themselves …
Two of our teachers work with our staff to run two programmes
- in year 9 to help them take responsibility for their own learning – and
- later in year 9 and in year 10 to work on special projects in areas they are interested in.
You will see in our MI (Multiple Intelligences) article that all of our teachers have strategies to support gifted students in the classroom – and we have these programmes to ensure they continue to be challenged. To read more, please click here.
Gateway and STAR
These are two programmes we run to help senior students focus on where they are going with their lives and careers. Students are able to experience work in the community, set up apprenticeships, or try themselves out in Polytech and University courses while still at school. Many students have found that they have discovered what they want to do (or not do) with their lives through these programmes – and have a headstart on the next step of their lives at the same time.
Good morning. Thank you.
The glue that holds a community together is respect and politeness. Staff and students try to make a point of greeting each other – and thanking others when they have done something good for them. We hear thank you most often at the end of a class – and, strangely, when a student has made a mistake, and they have to face the consequence.
Through the Gospels Jesus gave us a model for our lives. It is easy to use the phrase “Gospel values”, but when we look at the teaching and actions of Jesus we see that the phrase includes many things like love, compassion, hospitality, justice (especially for those who cannot demand it for themselves), dignity, community, commitment, inclusiveness, and respect. These values are recognised all year and reinforced at our annual Awards ceremony. Living up to these values is our challenge.
Several times during the year we stop the teaching programme to run an integrated programme. The Graduation Challenge runs for year 9-10 students at the end of the year. Small groups work with a teacher to design challenges that combine at least three curriculum areas. Many groups leave school for three days, others work at the school.
Teachers have to be careful with homework – because not all students have experts at home to help, and because practicing skills incorrectly will require re-teaching. What students can do – and need to do at home is:
- Review the day’s learning (because 70% of what we learn is forgotten if not reinforced within 24 hours)
- Revise recent work – because unless individual facts are put into a context or big picture, they do not make sense and so are forgotten
- Rest – students who stay up all night working or playing are not successful learners
Hospitality is a key value in the Bible and for tangata whenua. So at Garin we pride ourselves on making sure that guests to the school are welcomed, and that where possible we make the time to share food and conversation with them. After Masses, awards ceremonies, and of course powhiri, we use hospitality to reinforce the walls of our community.
Each student was created by God and so each student has unique gifts and talents -and a personal mission in life. Our Individual Achievement Plan is one of the tools we use to help students map out their own goals and pathways each year. The IAP asks students what they want to achieve during their time at Garin, where they are going with a career, about their goals and their learning programme, and finally, what they are doing to take responsibility for their own learning and success.
New Zealand students rely far too much on teachers to force them to learn. That is not good practice. A student’s future is their own: they are responsible for working out where they need to be, and getting there. Each one of us is responsible for our own success, our own happiness, and our own salvation. There is no “they” who will do it for us! Teachers and parents do all they can, but doing the work, keeping the appointment, honouring the commitment is the responsibility of the student. And we try to train each student to see that.
In 1976 the government began the process of integrating the formerly “private” Catholic schools into the State school system – a process now completed. Integrated schools are funded by the State and must teach the State curriculum, but are also required to “live and teach the values of Jesus Christ” (from our Integration Agreement with the Crown).
At Garin we have developed a unique (as far as we know!) programme that integrates outdoor educational camps with spiritual retreats. Each year students and staff go out into God’s creation to discover themselves, and to explore their relationship with their Creator. In year 9 the programme is based strongly on outdoor education activities with community-building being the central retreat theme. Each year of the Journey the programme changes as young people grow in self-awareness and their ability to think abstractly, and the spiritual challenges grow to meet that.
Learn a Language
All of our year 9 students learn Maori and Spanish – and one of these languages is also compulsory in year 10. Maori is the original language of our country and it is spoken nowhere else – so we do our part in preserving it – and encouraging students to learn it. Spanish is our other language because it is a very widely-spoken language. Languages give students the confidence to travel, to learn other languages quickly, to think more effectively, and also promote understanding and peace. Not bad!
This is a computer-based literacy programme that all year 9 students work on for at least a term.
Our annual arts festival, Te Wairua o nga Mahi Toi, (the spirit of creation in the arts) allows all students to develop skills and confidence as communicators in a wide range of fields. That is important to us. The annual concert is a way to acknowledge the gifts and talents students have in the arts.
Making a difference
We believe that each one of us has a duty to leave the world – or at least our little part of the world – a better place than it was when we arrived. Garin students make a difference in the school, in the community, and in the world. They will need to do that all their lives.
We treat our religious events seriously. We participate as well as we are able. We respect the event and the beliefs of those who are participating.
We have set our school up to ensure that we are as much as possible a functioning community. Our whanau classes enable older students to mix with and support younger students. Out of this has come a number of formal and informal mentoring programmes. Older students help younger students with reading and organisation.
An African proverb tells us that it takes a whole village to raise a child, and Catholic schools work hard to share in that partnership with parents. That is why we have so many formal and informal opportunities for parents to meet teachers, why we have a weekly newsletter, a comprehensive calendar, and why we try to keep the same whanau teacher as first point of contact for you. It is why we welcome constructive criticism, and it is why we talk to parents and ask them to talk to us whenever there is any concern about the personal or educational development of one of our students.
When students fall out for any reason, the best course of action is often to have trained senior students help them work it out. The problem is mediated by their peers. And what good practice for parenting!
Preference (and non-preference)
This is a legal term from the Integration Act where private schools (like Garin College) are integrated into the State school system. “Preference” of enrolment is given to Catholic families – and once that is confirmed by their parish priest, they have a right to enrol. Preference is normally given to families whose children have been baptised into the Catholic Church (or are about to be baptised into the Catholic Church), or where at least one parent who have been baptised as Catholic (or is about to be baptised into the Catholic Church) wishes to have their children educated in a Catholic school even if the children have not been baptised.
Garin College is allowed to enrol 67 students who do not have preference of enrolment (“non-preference enrolment”). If a family has any doubt about their preference status, please call the College to discuss it, or contact a Catholic parish priest.
We all understand “anti-social”. Pro-social is the opposite: it is a special after-school class (normally 3.30-5pm) where students do research and produce plans to help them and the school seek solutions to issues they are currently facing in an supportive environment, and become better community members. The class is normally a consequence when a student has failed to take responsibility for their own learning or behaviour.
This was something we started with in 2002, but something that was lost in the busy-ness of starting a new school. We have just set up our compost systems, our worm farms and our gardens again – and this time we intend to become more and more aware of the need to protect our environment.
Jesus developed a series of relationships with the outcast and underprivileged in his society: tax-gatherers, Samaritans, lepers, women, children, the sick, the handicapped, the mentally ill, prostitutes and many others. He said “the last shall be first”. The Church has tried to follow that example for 2000 years – and it is a responsibility we at Garin take very seriously inside the school, in our community, and in the world.
This is the sign on our Deputy Head Teacher’s door. Every problem is an opportunity, no difficulty is insurmountable. One of the first micro-counselling skills our staff learned in 2002 was “re-framing”. There is always a better way of looking at a negative.
This is a term out of the Integration Act – but at Garin it means living is learning in a Catholic and Christian environment – and demonstrating that in our words and actions. Some of the visible signs of that will be our Masses, sacraments like Reconciliation, our Retreat programme, liturgies at assemblies and festivals such as Ash Wednesday, and daily prayer, and the presence of our local parish priests and our Chaplaincy team.
Spirit of Garin
Everybody notices the big things that people do – but most people do lots of little things that are easily taken for granted. Every day staff at Garin hand out slips to students who do and say the good things we expect – and each week at assembly a “Spirit of Garin” ticket is drawn and the winning student is awarded a treat.
Cornell University developed a research-backed note-taking tool that helps students think. The key things to look at are the focusing question so the students knows what they are trying to learn from the start, the left hand panel for new words, key concepts etc, and the review panel at the bottom ensures the learning can be transferred into long-term memory.
Garin teachers take responsibility for the management of their students – but they cannot do that if a student is not there (or comes to class without the equipment required for the class.) Students who are late get a “study hall” and spend the next lunchtime doing school work to make up for the time lost.
When a teacher has reminded a student of the need to learn and let others learn, and that has not changed the student’s behaviour, the teacher will ask the student to work through a page where they look at what has happened, what should have happened, and what will happen next time. That page is our “thinksheet”. If that does not help the student to take responsibility for his or her behaviour, the student will be sent to try again in the back of another class with a pink version of our thinksheet. Parents are always informed when that happens.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is a major Catholic Social agency – and the Vinnies is the society’s offshoot in schools. Our Vinnies go out into our community and make a real difference in the lives of individual people.
The whole person, holistic education
Catholic education is designed to educate the whole person of each student – the intellect certainly – but also the physical, emotional, spiritual, moral, creative, relationship-building dimensions of each student.