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1 September 2017

posted 31 Aug 2017, 20:14 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 5 Sep 2017, 17:41 ]
Last Tuesday all of our teaching staff around half of our parent community and even some of our 'yet to officially start' parents had a great night out!

The Wellbeing Workshop lived up to its title in so many ways. Your feedback continues to come rolling in and I'm pleased it wasn't just me who was all hyped up about it!

For those of you who couldn't make it this week, I am going to do a quick summary of what was covered and also very soon we will have a dedicated 'Positive Education' section on the website that we will keep adding to..... so you can get up to / keep up to speed. Plus the Class Blogs always have plenty of 'Pos Ed' news.

The rundown:

Music - to evoke positive emotion
Breathing - to promote positive health
Mixing and Mingling BINGO activity - to encourage positive relationships
A little experiment to highlight 'the Power of the Question' and how questions can determine the reality.

About 5 years ago I asked the question "How can we build greater resilience in our children?". This created my reality in terms of intensive study for 2 years in Positive Psychology and, later, what this means in a school setting, Positive Education. "The science of wellbeing combined with best practice teaching" - I stress the word SCIENCE. 

I shared an excerpt from the Prime Ministers Chief Science Adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman's very recent discussion paper concerning youth suicide, a sobering read. I highlighted his concern that children are too protected from 'emotional stress and aren't prepared for the risks and rigours of adolescence'. I highlighted the piece about changing context of a young person on Page 1.

This is not a choice, an addition or a nice to. Primary Schools (and ECEs) must get on board!

For the last 18 months or so, I have been leading the teachers in the learning, encouraging the living part...  (I mentioned, it's actually work!) and they have been engaged in the teaching - now it's the embedding firmly within the culture of our community. 

We know from your feedback that you are on board, it isn't a hard sell - that many of you are working on aspects already. This focus at WBS on the Whole Child is very alive and well.......... well! It is important for us to be continuing to ask the right questions, be deliberate about the language we use...... learn from what works in our quest for our children to become resilient teens and, one day, adults.

After all - one of my well worn quotes:

"The words you speak become the house you live in" (Hafiz)

We shared some of the work we have been doing with the children in the form of a movie:

We also introduced some live children! Janne, Elliott, Yoshi and Hadley gave first hand accounts of growth mindsets in Maths and also Kaizen goal setting (small incremental, manageable steps).

The teaching staff ran a series of hands on activities that introduced parents to our model of Positive Education which comes from Geelong Grammar School. We know this is heavily researched and based on science - not a grab bag of "do these 5 things and you will be amazing and all of your problems will disappear!" 

Once again, I stress the word Science

We were also very fortunate to have 2 of our parent community supporting our work in this field:

Natalie Hogg:

When I was at school in Ireland a “whole child" education was one that incorporated music, sport AND academics. The development of resilience and psychological wellness was certainly not part of the fabric of the education system. Now I work as a Clinical Psychologist in health and sport environments. I often see clients with immense talent and ability who have yet to realise their potential due to this lack of psychological resilience and wellness.

At the same time, I have watched my twin five year olds embark on their first year at Worser Bay School with both excitement and trepidation. I have a firm belief that my role with them is as much about developing their ability to be connected, to find ways to cope with challenges, and to find ways to achieve their goals, as it is about reading, writing and arithmetic!

It is so easy to become overwhelmed by parenting advice flying at us from all angles. The all-knowing Google will always produce some blog to support any and every parenting approach we care to search for. So how do we choose which line to take? Well, the research into psychological wellbeing strongly supports mindfulness approaches, growth mindset philosophies and the development of psychological flexibility. What is so important about the positive education approaches that have been introduced at Worser Bay School is that they are grounded in this evidence.

What a great opportunity we have to provide our children with consistent approaches across the school and home environments. Thank you to Jude and all of the teachers for the wellbeing session. It was wonderful to be introduced to very practical and fun strategies which we can easily use to support our children through their early lives and beyond.

Nathan Price:
  • The area of mental wellbeing had gained significant momentum over the last 5 – 10 years and the same is true in an elite and professional sporting environment. In professional rugby one of the concepts we refer to is mental fitness – we want our players to be mentally as well as physically fit, so we ensure we work on areas such as resilience, adaptability, grit, as well as building some of the protective factors that we can call on during times of high stress or pressure.

  • Some of the techniques our professional players use are:

    • Mindfulness: Our All Blacks and other professional Rugby players get taught mindfulness. This is a great way to calm the brain stem, reduce stress and re-focus, there are great apps available for this.
    • Gratitude: Being grateful is a great way to change the way you think – teaching your brain to scan for the positives instead of the negatives has a huge impact on your mood. Some of our players use a gratitude journal which we have made available, where for 21 days they write down 3 things they are grateful for. This is great for resilience and positive thinking as well as your mental health. There is evidence of this happening at Worser Bay through the gratitude trees.
    • Learning to fail: Success is a lousy teacher. By learning to fail, and accepting that, we build resilience and learn alternative ways of completing tasks. It is important that we as parents are OK with our kids failing and making mistakes. Quote from Michael Jordan "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
    • Problem solving: We teach our players how to solve their own problems, sometimes we live in a very structured life, so to empower people to solve their own problems is great for resilience, adaptability and self-esteem.

  • The Government has recently allocated 100 million to mental wellbeing initiative including wellbeing programmes in schools

  • I also briefly touched on the importance of parents looking after their own wellbeing which included, making time for the things you enjoy, spending time on important relationships, giving back/community service, laughing/humour, having meaning and purpose, exercise and gratitude.

  • The Board believes that Worser Bay are ahead of the curve in terms of the focus they place on our children’s wellbeing – which was certainly on show last week and we are 100 percent supportive of the focus on the whole child.

Additionally, the Board introduced our SchoolDocs - online policy tool. You can find out all about that here.

As I said, we will have more material under a dedicated page ready to roll soon. Thank you for being so engaged and keen to learn together.

In appreciation to the teachers who really did a tremendous job with all those rotations well into the night!