Assistant Head of Senior School
Key Takeaway from Skodel: Identifying unknown wellbeing issues
Kevin Brennan is responsible for looking after the Scots College Boarding Community. In our time working with Kevin, we can think of no one better for the job. It is well known that good teaching starts with strong relational connection and Kevin is someone who can quickly strike a connection with his students. His capacity to build strong relationships is founded on an eagerness to get to know his students. He wants to know who they are, what they want to be, their goals, their vulnerabilities and more so he can have more meaningful conversations with them. In fact, when we first met Kevin to discuss Skodel Check-In, Kevin was already actively searching for a tool to manage the check-in process with his students to help him achieve exactly that. We asked Kevin three questions about his teaching journey, his answers offered insight into where his passion for teaching comes from and highlighted just how special it is to be a teacher.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I really enjoyed school as a student and always remember looking at my teachers and thinking "that would be a really cool job". Pretty much from the age of 15 I decided that was what I would do when I left school.
Describe one moment that made you realise how special it is to be a teacher.
A number of years ago I had a young man in my boarding house that found things very difficult socially. He was a really nice, kind person, but was incredibly shy and therefore really struggledto fit in and be himself. His challenges followed him throughout his high school years, and whilst I always tried to support him, I never felt like I was ever having an impact. When he graduated school in Year 12 he wrote me a long letter, it was 3 or 4 pages in length. In it he thanked me for the support and help I had given him over the 5 years he had been in my boarding house, giving examples from every year of things and incidents where he had remembered things I had specifically done and the difference it had made to him. I had no idea at the time, but what he wrote made me realise what a special privilege we have to work with young people during such an important time in their lives. It was probably the single nicest gesture a student had done for me to make me realise how special it is to be a teacher.
Do you have a Skodel story for us? A moment where Skodel has helped you make a difference in a student/s life.
We have been using Skodel Check-In with our Boarding Students. It has been a great tool for us grabbing quick snapshots of how boys are travelling, giving us quick up to date information that allows us to begin conversations of support where necessary. A recent example was one of our senior boys, a College Prefect: he is a very talented and highly respected student, hard working in the classroom, part of the College Band and a 1st team representative. We thought he was thriving in every possible way at school. On one occasion he received the question, "Is there anything you are worried about at the moment?" He responded with a concern he had been having. None of the staff were aware that he had been carrying this worry around with him for months, and the information was just what we needed in order to provide him with the support he needed.
When we reflect on our own personal educational journey, very rarely do we look back and thank our teachers for teaching us the subject matter. What we thank them for is believing in us, inspiring us, supporting us, taking the time to get to know us and showing a genuine interest in our lives. We often remember moments or conversations that, to the outside world, would appear to be insignificant, but they remain in our minds forever. This impact may only become apparent when we have time to sit back, reflect on our schooling journey and give thanks to the teachers who were there for us. For teachers like Kevin Brennan, a thank you is one of the biggest rewards he can receive.