A teacher's perspective
The Berry Street School supplements the mainstream approach to education through the way it nurtures its students and responds to their individual needs and strengths. Many Berry Street students have experienced trauma and hardships that no young person should ever endure, however, positive paths into adulthood can be paved with the help of dedicated staff.
So, what does a day at the Berry Street School look like?
It starts with an 8am phone call to each student by the Head of Student Support: “What was your night like?”; “Are there any issues?”; “Are you ready to learn?”. Once the students have arrived for the school day, it’s back to basics — a good breakfast. It’s certainly not realistic to expect a student to come into class, ready to learn, when they haven’t eaten breakfast or a substantial meal. The experience has a calming effect and prepares the students for the day ahead. This is also an opportunity to model behaviours for students to follow, recognising that many of these students haven’t had consistent exposure to positive role models throughout their childhood.
"We focus on the good in them and give them positive, unconditional reinforcement from day one."
The first thing students learn about is themselves. Each morning, teachers spend as much time building their emotional and physical health. “We focus on the good in them and give them positive, unconditional reinforcement from day one”, explains one of our Berry Street School teachers.
We teach them the way they want to learn
We teach them in a varied and flexible way, adapting to the student’s academic requirements and interests. In addition, each day has an important element of play and exploration. Berry Street students have had to grow up quickly; it’s important to give them back things other kids might take for granted, such as a summer day at a pool. Excursions can capture imagination, and career days help students get excited about their future.