Pastoral care brings a new perspectiveJohn Blois
Stepping into a House Master role at Trinity has seen Ms Kat Miller Bock embracing everything that pastoral care has to offer at Trinity. For Ms Miller Bock, support – providing it and receiving it – has been a central part of her career at the School.
In 2019, while she was still studying teaching at the University of Sydney, Ms Miller Bock did a year’s internship at Trinity which gave her a taste into what it was like to be a part of the Trinity staff community.
“I came in once a week for a year, in the English department where I was paired up with other teachers. I got the opportunity to have them as mentors, see how they conducted lessons, and run lessons myself,” she recalls. “When a position became available after I graduated, I took the opportunity.”
She remembers that from the very first interview during her internship, Trinity staff were friendly and supportive, sharing resources and lending a hand when needed, and they’ve never wavered in this respect.
“Everyone’s willing to give advice if you reach out to them and sometimes they reach out to you first. Numerous staff – especially those in leadership roles – are willing to make the time to support you and give you ideas of what you could do to get started on pursuing a certain role.”
Like many others, Ms Miller Bock has found that when roles become vacant – if only temporarily – the opportunity to step into an ‘acting’ role can be one of the best ways to gain experience and confidence. Prior to her current role, she was able to try her hand at being the Acting House Master of Dulwich House, as well as an acting capacity role for Young House. These two experiences gave her the experience she needed to be ready to accept the full time position she now has as Middle School House Master of Weeks House.
The prior experience didn’t mean that the new role was without its challenges.
“There’s a lot going on in the School. You know that as a teacher, but there’s a whole other layer for the students, with events and things they need to submit. You’ve just got to be very organised,” she says. “It was a challenge going into the role to get my head around it but it really helped to carve out time each week to be across everything and to meet with the Senior School House Master to make sure we were across what we wanted to achieve each week.
“In saying that, we’re well supported. All the other House Masters are willing to help you when things come up; report writing is a great example – they’ll show you their reports and the language they use, to make sure you feel confident going into it.”
She also says that the School’s clear “ladder” of support is easy to navigate when you need it. Whether it’s colleagues in the same faculty, or looking wider to the TESS Counselling and Academic departments, it’s clear where to go for support.
“Sometimes it can feel daunting to know how to respond to certain situations – regardless of what they are – it’s nice to know there’s people in place to help you respond and there’s a clear channel of who you can speak to.”
While she still teaches English, she enjoys the different perspective that being House Master brings her.
“As a classroom teacher, you might delegate conversations with parents to a House Master, but as a House Master, I get to have that communication with parents a bit more where we communicate about everything, not just how they’re going in the classroom but any wins or challenges they might be experiencing in all areas of life.”
This is something she also enjoys about being involved in Co-curricular activities. Ms Miller Bock is currently Master in Charge of Winter Swimming, as well as being involved in the Gary Catalano Writing Competition.
“Swimming is a great way to get to know the students outside the classroom. I meet a lot of students I wouldn’t have necessarily met because I don’t teach them. I get to know them in a holistic sense, through something that’s quite social, even though Swimming is an individual sport. It’s a nice way to get involved in the community a little more.
“When it comes to the Gary Catalano competition, it’s such a different group of boys who put in their submissions. It’s a good way to get involved with another group of students who are perhaps more academic-focused. But it’s not about grades, it’s about having an idea and writing about it.”
As she embraces the permanent role as House Master, she’s looking forward to the opportunities that brings her, particularly when it comes to getting to know students really well.
“Previously, when I was in ‘acting’ roles, I’d get to know students and then the term ends and I moved on … I’m really looking forward to being a consistent member of a House, getting to know the students and seeing them all the way through.”
This is something she’s already seeing the benefit of after going on camp with the new cohort of Year 7 students.
“I’ll get to know them all the way to Year 12. That continuity – seeing them grow up – is really nice to have.”
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