Steering Clear of P.L.O.M. Town
As I sit down to write this Messenger article, I have much to think about and many reflections regarding our world and our current situation. Like most, my family are mostly working and learning from home. There is growing frustration regarding many aspects of our lives – events and rites of passage we have missed – birthdays, weddings, major life milestones and a funeral. I am also currently managing a household of passionate Melbourne supporters who are devastated that they cannot attend football games during this, their year of success.
Happy Father's Day to all the Woodleigh Dads and Special Dudes out there! Please accept this Dad joke as a token of our respect and esteem. Special thanks to Minimbah Year 4 student Jack W for the expert timing and delivery.
It would be easy to let our minor, first-world problems dominate our mindset and develop a sense of helplessness and negativity. As a colleague of mine would say, it would be easy to develop a PLOM (Poor Little Old Me) complex for ourselves.
I have spent time reflecting on my leadership and relationships with others and called upon my mindful leadership training to reinforce my strategies and form a positive mindset about the life we are currently experiencing. This training has taught me how to use mindfulness techniques to be aware of my thoughts and feelings and understand how external events can impact the way I feel.
The three pillars of Mindfulness, Selflessness and Compassion are very simple to understand and easy to bring into every aspect of our lives. Practising ten minutes of mindfulness each morning provides an opportunity to check in with my feelings and thoughts and reminds me to be present in the moment and present for others. Carving out this little piece of time each morning creates a massive difference in my day.
I was in a Zoom lesson recently, and it occurred to me that in every class I have attended lately, there is always at least one student who is actively engaged, positive, full of fun and happy to be learning. I often find myself wondering, 'What is their home life like?" And, "How is it that they can always retain their positivity?" In most cases, it comes from the mindset of their homes and their families.
These students and their families are experiencing the same difficulties as the rest of us; however, they view their world with hope and optimism and take care of their wellbeing whenever possible. They often describe a great walk or bike ride they had taken or talk about completing a tricky puzzle or sharing an amazing meal they had cooked for their family. They are immersed in an environment that embraces hope and positivity, and they look for opportunities to enjoy life, no matter what the circumstances are.
With that attitude in mind, when I read these words from Author and Mental Health Advocate, Jill Stark, I felt they were worth sharing. They capture the feeling that many Melburnians are currently dealing with, but zoom out to bring a perspective of Mindfulness, Selflessness and Compassion to Melbourne's current situation and our pathway out of lockdown.
"I know it feels like groundhog day, but we're not where we were a year ago. We have a vaccine now. It's our pathway out of this. Every day that passes gets us closer to an easier way of living.
The sacrifices we made weren't for nothing. We saved countless lives, protected the most vulnerable, and stopped our hospitals from being overwhelmed. That matters. Your efforts matter. Be proud.
If you're finding it hard to see light at the end of the tunnel, I get it. We've been doing this a long time. But don't let your tired brain trick you into believing things won't change. They already are.
After a slow start, our vaccination rates are increasing rapidly and are now, per capita, higher than the rates the UK and US achieved at their peak.
And that's before we see a huge boost to supply in coming weeks. There's every reason to believe we'll quickly reach 80 per cent of over 12s fully vaccinated, and will probably smash through that target.
And when we do, life is going to look very different.
This suffering is real, and it's hard, but it's finite. We can survive anything if we know it will one day end. That day is closer than it currently feels.
We will get to the other side. And when we get to wrap our arms around the people we love, how sweet that moment will be. I can't wait."
While endless press conferences and news bulletins spruik doom and gloom, I choose to be grateful for my life, my family, for the wonderful school that I am privileged to lead and for the amazing place that we call home – the Mornington Peninsula. The people I spend Zoom time with every day, the classes that I attend, and the optimism of our community inspire me to seek out and enjoy the many positive aspects of our lives and the many positive relationships that surround me daily.
When our situation feels desperate, that’s the time for us to change our perspective, to zoom out and refocus. Times are certainly challenging right now, but we are closer to the end of this than it feels.
During the implementation of our Continuous Learning Plan (CLP), the school uses surveys to check in with students, staff, and parents about the experience of learning from home. Pulse surveys are commonly used in a range of organisational, community and business contexts as a way of monitoring participation and engagement in specific programs, projects and services. Given our ongoing need to respond to the current health crisis, the school uses the surveys to effectively and efficiently gather a full range of perspectives and insights into the operation and impact of the CLP over time. The data and feedback we receive from the surveys help inform the development and fine-tuning of the CLP and our approaches to teaching and learning online.
Unfortunately, the recent spike in the spread of COVID19 in Victoria has meant that we have needed to extend our time in remote learning. For this reason, the school will continue its use of pulse surveys this term, checking in with our students, teachers and parents about their experience of the CLP in the week ahead. The surveys will be short in length, easy to complete, and focused on a range of important topics relevant to our current context, with a particular interest in student learning, wellbeing, and engagement. We were delighted with the survey completion rates last year and kindly ask parents to continue to engage with the survey series this time around, so we can work in partnership to sustain and improve our support for student learning. Survey links for parents will be sent out as part of the correspondence from the Principal, so please look out for upcoming opportunities to engage with us.
Dr Richard Owens
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation
Bestselling author and psychologist Angela Duckworth is the world's leading expert on grit—the coveted quality that's a better indicator of success than talent or even IQ as we continue to grapple with the challenges of living in a pandemic. We can all benefit from practising being "gritty"; by looking for opportunities to learn and grow, to help us cope, practice gratitude, cultivate a growth mindset and acknowledge that we can do hard things!
What Is Grit and Why Does it Matter?
Grit is a distinct combination of passion, resilience, determination, and focus that allows a person to maintain the discipline and optimism to persevere in their goals even in the face of discomfort, setbacks, and a lack of visible progress.
Grit means maintaining the hope and vision to change even under the most challenging circumstances.
How can we foster GRIT?
As parents, carers and educators, it is up to us to instil the confidence and optimism in our young people that will allow them to push through the low moments of COVID 19.
Kids are not able to just spontaneously grow up to be "gritty" people without being supported in that.
Here are few ideas gleaned from the "grit" experts about being intentional in our quest to build grit.
#1 Find A Passion (Or At Least An Engaging Activity)
One of the characteristics of "gritty" people is that they are "especially motivated to seek happiness through focused engagement and a sense of meaning or purpose", says Duckworth, so letting a child find their passion is necessary.
"I don't think people can become truly gritty and great at things they don't love, so when we try to develop grit in kids, we also need to find and help them cultivate their passions."
Pursuing a particular interest of their choosing can help young people identify a passion and understand that practise, hard work and perseverance are the surest way to achieve.
#2 Recognize That Frustration, Confusion and Practice Are Par for the Course
In a 2013 TED Talk, Duckworth said it is the "best idea" she has heard about how to increase grit in children is to teach what Stanford professor and author of the highly acclaimed book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success , Carol Dweck, calls a "growth mindset."
Dweck has found that people with "growth mindsets" are more resilient and tend to push through struggle because they believe that hard work is part of the process, and they understand that failure is not a permanent condition. Those with "fixed mindsets", on the other hand, believe that success stems from innate talent and tend to give up easily—why work hard at something if you don't think you can change anything?
#3 Take Risks
Grit demands risk-taking. Successful people are willing to step out of their comfort zones and risk failure to learn something new or pursue a long-term goal. And while, by definition, a risk may fail, successful adults don't give up.
Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed , says,
"Lots of parents don't want to talk about their failures in front of their kids, but that's denying kids the potentially powerful experience of seeing their parents bounce back."
#4 Teach that failure is not the end
To teach children to be resilient, we need to show them real examples of how failures and setbacks can lead to success—by talking about them regularly, sharing our own experiences, and most importantly, allowing them to fail.
In his New York Times article "The Secret to Success is Failure," Paul Tough says,
"It is a central paradox of contemporary parenting, in fact: we have an acute, almost biological impulse to provide for our children, to give them everything they want and need, to protect them from dangers and discomforts both large and small. And yet we all know — on some level, at least — that what kids need more than anything is a little hardship: some challenge, some deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can."
Duckworth suggests that taking the lead from "gritty" people can help us reframe our adversity and lead to what she refers to as an "optimistic, resilient way." We can achieve this by focusing on the things we can change, the items in our life we do have control over, and that it's in our best interest to spend most of our time on those things as we continue to weather this storm. Because of, and despite this, young people need to be seen & valued for their efforts. To continue to show up and do their best on any given day.
As parents, we mustn't let our protective instincts rob our children of first-hand experiences of learning to navigate challenges for themselves. We all want to see them succeed, but as they search to find their footing in their pathways to success, it is essential to show them that setbacks and failure are part of that process, not an endpoint, but a necessary crossing on the road to achievement. If we don't let them see us fail or experience a failure themselves, in the safety of our presence, they may not have the stamina to overcome life's challenges when they are on their own and know that it's okay to ask for help and where to find it.
We have all experienced the hardship of the pandemic collectively, which has made it possible to acknowledge that we are all doing things hard everyday single day. This was true before COVID and will be true after Life is hard, but we can do hard things by being "gritty"!
Director of Counselling
Acknowledgements, further reading & resources:
Links to (non- Woodleigh) Webinars for Parents:
'Young people, alcohol and other drugs 2021: What do parents need to know?'
It will examine current drug trends amongst school-based young people, including vaping and the online sale of drugs via social media apps. The session aims to empower parents with a positive message and assist them in having open and honest family discussions in this complex area.
Thursday, 16 September at 7.00-8.30pm (AEST).
Further details and registration can be found at the following link: https://events.humanitix.com/young-people-alcohol-and-other-drugs-2021-what-do-parents-need-to-know?_ga=2.254673803.260490359.1627864130-467732293.1627864130
Dr Arne Rubinstein
Fathers Day workshop: A fun interactive evening that will guide you through activities and conversations for Father & Child (of any age!). The perfect way to honour the special relationship you share. Thursday 9 September: 7 - 8 pm EST $25 to attend. Please register through the link below.
Maggie Dent & Michelle Mitchell
Understanding Our Gorgeous, Confused Girls - an online masterclass about tween & teen girls
With Maggie Dent & Michelle Mitchell
Thursday 9 September, 8 pm EST
$35 to sign up to live event with access to repay & additional resources through the link below.
Semester 2 Year 7-12 Student/Parent/Teacher Interviews will be held on Zoom on the following dates:
Term 3, Week 9
Tuesday 7 September 4.00pm – 8.00pm
Wednesday 8 September (student-free day) 12.00pm – 8.00pm
These interviews provide an essential forum for discussion of student learning and the further development of the partnership between school and home.
You should have now received an email with PTO booking instructions. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not received the email. Bookings close on Monday 6 September. Each interview is limited to 8 minutes.
Late requests will not be accepted after 12 pm on Tuesday 7 September or 10 am on Wednesday 8 September.
Zoom Instructions: This week, you will be emailed detailed instructions on accessing your Zoom interviews. Access to the Zoom interview will be made available on PTO on the day of the interviews. At your interview, you will need to log into PTO (on your computer, not using the app) to access the Zoom link. Click on the link next to the relevant teacher to enter the Zoom Waiting Room. At the appointed time, the teacher will invite you to join the meeting.
Please follow the Woodleigh core values of respect during the interviews and support our teachers by keeping your appointment to 8 minutes only. Teachers must finish their appointments on time to allow for the next booking to enter.
Students are expected to attend the interviews through Zoom with their parents.
If you have any issues during the day of interviews, please contact the school office, where you will be put through to the relevant person.
Our teachers are looking forward to seeing our Woodleigh families at the interviews!
LUCY KANE & AMY WHITE
Heads of Learning 7-9, 10-12
For the Year 7 English poetry presentation task, Ruby wrote the music and lyrics for 'Fall Apart' – it's from the perspective of being a student in lockdown. Enjoy!
I'm like 13 assessments behind,
But it'll be alright.
Don’t worry it's all under control,
I’m so very sorry to bother you at this time,
But I felt alone.
I know you have had your issue and worries,
And I don't want to be another burden in the mix,
I’m sorry I just don't know how to experience this.
Cause every day’s the same,
and I'm still stuck in the same old brain,
I can't finish anything that I start,
it won't be long until I fall apart,
They say that it will take time,
I have no patience!
I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait for,
The world is black and white nothings right,
And I don't feel so great.
I know you have your own issue you need to fix,
And suddenly I like a huge burden in the mix,
All I can do is strum some chords,
And tell you some facts about the world.
Cause every day’s the same,
and I'm still stuck in the same old brain,
I can't finish anything that I start,
it won't be long until I fall apart,
No, really, it's fine.
A key component of our science course is learning how to design, conduct and evaluate your scientific investigation. Before the current restrictions, we learned about forces and how simple machines can make a job more manageable. Our students have taken this to the next level: how can a catapult design affect the distance a projectile launch?
Students have investigated different designs from around the world as the basis for their plans. Some have gone for simplicity. Others have taken the challenge of greater complexity in the hope of achieving greater distance. Whatever the basic design is chosen, students then decided on a particular variable to change to see if it makes any difference to the space the projectile is thrown.
It must be noted that students could not check out their peers' designs in this process frequently. Many parents could help our students achieve their goals, and we thank them for all their assistance. Many of the projects were highly successful, but this is not the main assessment criteria; following the process of scientific investigation was the primary objective. Our students have indeed shown how much can be achieved when their adventurous minds are unleashed. Great job, Year 7 scientists!
A group of Year 9 students have been meeting with me weekly and then more regularly to complete the Tournament of Minds Challenge. This began whilst we were at school, but of course, it had to be adapted as we moved into lockdown.
Even with the change of context, over 220 teams pivoted and continued to persevere with completing their chosen challenge.
Ronan C, Lenny L, Pat S, Braeden V, James L, Imogen T and Tahran H worked collaboratively online to complete the STEM Challenge.
These students have earned themselves HONOURS in their section, which is a fantastic effort in any climate, but extra special given we are in an online learning space—a special shout out to Lance for setting up Teams to have a collaborative place to work.
This term, the Year 10 French students have studied the topic of fairytales in French. The students discussed the role that they continue to play and challenge at the same time in modern society and wrote essays in French to reflect this. After that, we studied Indigenous storytelling in contemporary Australian society and how Indigenous storytelling has been told for generations. Students are currently working on their oral presentation in French on various topics, including how Indigenous storytelling protects the environment for future generations.
Today, the students listened to a song by French-Belgian artist Angèle, titled ‘Tout Oublier’ (forget everything). Through studying the song, we discussed the contemporary role of happiness in modern society. Thereafter, students wrote their thoughts on the song on Padlet.
Bravo! Madame est très fière de votre travail et effort!
Well done! Madame is very proud of your work and efforts!
French & Business Management Teacher