SIMON TOWNLEY
SENIOR SCHOOL

 

"I believe that getting the students into the right frame of mind to have intrinsic motivation and not be driven by outside influences, is fundamental to anyone wanting to reach their goals."

 
Simon Townley is a Mathematics teacher, a Year Coordinator and Wellbeing Program Coordinator. He has a Masters degree in Educational Neuroscience and has worked at Queenwood since 2015.

A passion for teaching was the driving force behind my early career as a Maths teacher in the UK, followed by time spent as Head of Mathematics and ICT at one of the first specialist Maths and Computing Colleges in London.

A realisation that I was most interested in how students learn led me to Harvard University where I undertook a Master’s degree in Educational Neuroscience. I realised that after all these years I’d observed learning happening in my classroom, but I knew very little about how it actually works and I became more and more fascinated by that.

Designed for teachers, the Master’s degree represented the intersection of three subjects: psychology, neuroscience and education. My studies led to a much deeper understanding of how students learn and as a result, application of more effective teaching methods. Somewhat unexpectedly, these studies also led me to a more pastoral career path, applying my new knowledge to developing our understanding of student wellbeing.

I believe that getting the students into the right frame of mind to have intrinsic motivation and not be driven by outside influences, is fundamental to anyone wanting to reach their goals. This principle is applied at Queenwood where students’ motivation is the key to their success. An awareness of individual psychology and group psychology underpins our Wellbeing program where the tutors work with small groups of students each week.

While class activities play a part in group dynamics, knowing each girl and taking the time to work with them one-on-one is something we do really well at Queenwood. This is especially important in Year 12, when the girls are facing academic demands and looking to the future beyond school and the relationships built up over the years 7-11 really can help support the students in their final year.

On this basis, tutors work with students in the Wellbeing programme to identify each girl’s differences and encourage them not to compare themselves with others. There is a tendency for humans to want to pigeonhole themselves and students may then use negative self-talk.

One of the most motivating messages the tutors convey is the importance of having a growth mindset, involving students understanding that new neural pathways can always be created and that anyone can improve their intelligence through hard work and challenge.

Another area of interest of mine is the belief in an individual’s ability to take charge of their health and wellbeing, wherever possible. We teach them to control things they are able to control, things like fitness, nutrition and sleep as these fundamentally contribute to physical and mental resilience.

We are a school of families rather than just a school of girls and as closeness ebbs and flows through the different stages of teenage development, the need for open communication in families is essential.

Working together is the basis of a happy school life and healthy individuals who have a strong sense of self-belief, able to take themselves outside their own self to think of others, is an important part of the Wellbeing program.