As with most things in life, the journey of education brings an eclectic mix of joyful celebrations, relief, achievement, disappointment, change and growth. It’s important that throughout this journey, we allow ourselves suitable ‘moments’ to pause, think deeply and make decisions about the future. Some decisions are long in the making while others more suddenly become apparent. Why? Because when we are attentive to these moments, they bring with them the opportunity to stop doing, breathe, and really think about what we do and why we do it.
Rapid globalisation and social development have generated a wide range of conversations, critiques and debate about many topics, including education. Despite such extensive discussion, a core question remains as to how we manage adversity and sustain and improve the wellbeing of both learners and educators.
Student resilience and wellbeing are essential for both academic and social development, and are optimised by safe, supportive and respectful learning environments. Not only do confident and resilient students with a capacity for emotional intelligence perform better academically, these skills can also contribute to their ability to create strong social bonds and to maintain healthy relationships and responsible lifestyles.
‘Future proofing’ is a term used to describe the continued usefulness and success, despite change and increased uncertainty. With an understanding that our emotions are the gatekeepers to cognition, there has always been a need to develop the skills that enhance our wellbeing through positive relationships, home life, community and sense of self.
Capabilities that enable us to improve our world and create a greater sense of personal confidence include our sense of community connectedness, our self-care and self-compassion, an ability to embrace change as potential, an optimistic or ‘growth’ mindset and an ability to celebrate achievements and communicate our vision.
At Whitefriars, the wellbeing of students and all in the community around us is our priority. In focusing on the future as a responsive space to be experienced and shaped, we seek not only to improve our outcomes and achievements, but also our sense of self, relationships, health and connection with our wider community.
Last Friday, approximately 180 students participated in a survey conducted with Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) to understand students’ perceptions of safety. ICPS are collecting this data to conduct empirical research in the area of children’s safety.
As a result of participation, Whitefriars now has access to online, anonymous and aggregated results of the data collected. With this, our three Education Psychologists, led by Mr Mick Lafferty, Deputy Principal – Students, will launch a Pilot Program to support students in navigating the challenges of adolescence in the coming weeks.
The program will facilitate small group sessions and provide students with an understanding of stress (and anxiety); what causes it (a response from our brains), what it feels like in the body (so they can identify it in themselves), what it looks like in another person (empathy) and how to manage it (coping strategies). By teaching students how to identify thoughts and behaviours that interfere with their learning, it is hoped that they will feel empowered to control an important aspect of their lives.
Mr Greg Stewart
Almae In Fide Parentis