Positive Education @MSB
Mount St Benedict College has adopted a whole school approach to Positive Education
Positive Education utilises the core principles of positive psychology combined with best practice teaching methods to encourage growth and learning, for the individual and for the whole community. It is a strength based approach centred on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences in all areas.
The College offers a range of activities and experiences that promote positive education and wellbeing philosophies.
One aspect of Dr Martin Seligman’s PERMA Model, the framework that the College has adopted for Positive Education, is the concept of ‘Meaning’. It is about finding purpose in the things we do by serving a bigger cause than ourselves. The College provides many opportunities for staff, students and parents to be involved in a range
of outreach and volunteer experiences. Throughout 2015, students have been involved in various service learning programs including regular homework tutoring for refugee children, mentoring of St Edmund’s students, a learning exchange program with Year 10 St Edmund’s classes, visits to provide friendship for elderly residents
at Jamieson House and the monthly Vinnies Van run to assist the homeless of Sydney. The College has also had staff and students involved in a range of Good Samaritan Education Mission Programs including the Year 10 Central Australia Santa Teresa Immersion, Year 11 Ministry Outreach Week in Sydney, Year 11 Philippines Immersion Trip and the Staff Kirabati Immersion Trip.
Year 10 Outreach
Earlier in 2015, all Year 10 students participated in the Community Outreach program. After staff members had visited the students, they were asked to relay some of the positive messages of affirmation that the organisations had said
about MSB girls. What evolved was a “what went well” wall of quotes and photos. More proof of the power MSB girls can have to make positive changes in their community for the betterment of others.
The MSB gratitude box and wall have been a fixture in the MSB staff room and Monday morning briefing for many years now. It began with the notion that it isn’t happiness that brings us gratitude, it’s gratitude that brings us happiness. The
simple act of expressing gratitude to those who have made a small or large difference in our everyday activities here at the College, gives not just the receiver of the gratitude a good feeling, but also the person expressing their gratitude. The
ritual of reading out the weekly contributions and leaving them on the wall for other staff to read, spreads the sense of gratitude throughout the community. In our pastoral care and mission programs and in the classroom, there is chance for
our girls to express gratitude to their family, friends, teachers, and members of their communities. When the girls have participated in these activities, they often report an increase in their well-being; as do the staff.
Student Led Conferences
During Term Three, Year 7 have presented their own portfolio showcasing their learning to their parents and MYBennies teacher. Each student selected a number of work samples to discuss in a 20 minute presentation called a Student Led Conference. One of the work samples included a personal Growth Chart, using SMART goals to plan improvement in Semester Two after reflection of their individual Semester One report. Another was a piece of work to tell a story about their learning this year showing a personal strength.
Students and staff having been participating in mindfulness activities throughout the year. In House Groups, Year 11 explored different ways to implement mindfulness in their daily lives. Facilitated by the College Counsellors, students were able to listen, discuss and share ideas about how to use mindfulness to help face the different challenges facing senior students. Following this important activity Year 11 continued the theme of mindfulness, enjoying a peaceful and reflective meditation in the Blue Gum Room.
In the Information and Resource Centre (IRC) as well as the College Staffroom, colouring in mindfulness sheets and jigsaw puzzles have been available. The colouring in prompts the person to meditate on their artwork as they mindfully and creatively fill pages with colour developing peace and calm.
The Resilience Doughnut
One aspect of Positive Education within the College is the use of The Resilience Doughnut developed by clinical psychologist, Lyn Worsley. The Resilience Doughnut allows individuals to become independent and self-directed by utilising areas within their life to enable them to flourish. Students from Years 7, 8 and 9 have used the Resilience Doughnut and identified their three areas of strengths. By combining these areas they are able to complete the statement – I am, I have and I can. A powerful statement of recognition.
Why is it often so easy to recognise the strengths in others, yet so challenging to do the same to ourselves? As a mechanism for feedback and way of threading the Positive Education program throughout the curriculum, some students in Year 8 Science were recently invited to complete an activity in ‘strength spotting’. Girls were asked to reflect on their effort and participation in their Science Student Research Project and to recognise one or more strengths they could identify in themselves. From this, they were invited to write a gratitude letter to themselves; acknowledging their strengths and explaining when and how they were able to demonstrate and develop this attribute.