From the Principal
We have been so very proud of the way our Year 12s have finished off their final days at Woodleigh School before departing for SWOTVAC. The final service held in the Bush Chapel was the most beautiful of occasions celebrating this cohort’s journey through Woodleigh School, from their earliest days at Minimbah and Penbank campuses and 25 other feeder primary schools through to their final days here at Senior Campus. The Service gave us a snapshot of the creative talents of this wonderful group of students and provided an insight into the extent to which they care for each other, the school and our broader community beyond it. We wish them well for the upcoming examination period and congratulate those who have already received early offers from Universities and secured apprenticeships for the year ahead.
I take this opportunity too to acknowledge the work of Laura Maasburg, who at this end of the year has an exceptionally busy time as she coordinates a variety of different events across our school. These have been wonderful occasions which honour our students and send them off in great style.
To parents of Year 11 students entering Year 12 in 2020, you are invited to a VCE Information Session to be held at the Senior Campus in the Hall on Tuesday 26 November at 7pm. This session will be led by Amy White, Deputy Head of Teaching and Learning – Senior School, and Bryn Bowen, Acting VCE Coordinator in 2020. The evening will provide information to parents about the VCE program in the year ahead and an opportunity for the team to take questions around any concerns prior to the year commencing as students undertake the Orientation Week for Year 12 which runs between Monday 25 November and Friday 29 November.
Interviews are currently underway for the selection of the new Director of Senior Homestead and I am delighted to say that we have an exceptional field of candidates eager to have the opportunity to contribute to Woodleigh School in the years ahead.
I was delighted to start the transition process with our new Principal for Woodleigh School, Mr David Baker, on Monday of this week. David spent some time with the leadership team and had an opportunity to tour each campus and I look forward to welcoming him to a number of functions in the weeks ahead as the school year draws to a close. David is very excited about the prospect of joining our community and we very much look forward to his inspirational leadership in the years ahead.
LtoR: Jonathan Walter, David Baker and Vanessa Gabriel.
On behalf of all Senior Homestead staff we would like to pass on our congratulations to the Year 12 students on the way they concluded their year. They certainly embraced the unique Woodleigh style of ending their journey at Senior Campus.
The celebrations began Tuesday when the Senior Homestead staff entertained the kids with a production that included songs, games, photographic memories and reflections.
On Wednesday morning, with rays of sun through the mist, we began with the Reflection Service that blended humour and light heartedness – the Literary Journal and Minimbah/Penbank and Woodleigh years reflections, and a tinge of sadness about everything drawing to an end. The music performed by Year 12 Music class was also outstanding. Congratulations to all those students who performed and spoke.
Following Reflections and Breakfast with parents we moved to the Year 12 Final Assembly where we were treated to a host of performances and presentations, and finally, our day concluded with lunch and games in the Gym.
From here, we wish all Year 12 students the best in their preparation and completion of their final exams, and we look forward to the Valedictory Night for our final farewell.
I would like to personally thank all Senior Campus staff for making this time so special for the students.
To the Year 11s, I pass on the challenge to step up as the natural leaders of the school and complete your year in equally impressive style.
We also wish Year 11 students all the best with their exams. Given over half of our Year 11 students do a Year 12 subject, this period is equally a significant time.
2020 Senior Homestead Camps
All Year 11 and Year 10 students have received camp information and ballot booklets for next year. Can I please ask that the booklet is read thoroughly and ballots are returned promptly.
Director of Senior Homestead
Year 12 VCAA Examinations, DES and Results
Year 12 examinations began on Wednesday 30 October and will conclude on Wednesday 20 November. We look forward to celebrating the fine achievements of our Year 12 co-hort at the Valedictory Dinner and Presentation on Thursday 21 November.
- Due to the mid-term break NO BUSES will run on Monday 4 November
- Due to Report Writing Day NO BUSES will run on Friday 8 November
- STUDENTS WILL NEED TO ARRANGE THEIR OWN TRANSPORT TO/FROM EXAMS ON THESE DAYS.
This affects students doing the following exams:
On Monday 4 November
- Further Mathematics Ex 2 @ 9am
- Business Management @ 3pm
On Friday 8 November
- Specialist Mathematics Ex 1 @ 9am
- Accounting @ 11.45am
- Health and Human Development @ 3pm
Derived Exam Scores (DES)
This is the VCAA process which “compensates” students whose examination performance is severely impacted by illness or personal trauma arising at the time of their examinations. Students who fit this category should alert me ASAP so that I can assist them to apply for a Derived Examination Score. I will initiate (online) the application and the student will then be emailed a link where they lodge comments about the illness/personal trauma and also the medical or other supporting evidence. Sections of the (online) application MUST be completed and submitted by the student – schools are generally NOT permitted to do this on a student’s behalf.
If a student is ill (but able to attend the exam) they MUST consult a Doctor as close to the exam as possible (timely = from two days before to one day after the exam). The Doctor MUST complete an external evidence section of the Application Form.
Students who are too ill to sit an exam (this is a very RARE occurrence and the Doctor MUST provide specific written advice to stating that it is “against medical advice for the student to sit the exam”) must consult a Doctor on the day before, or the day of, the exam – VCAA urges all students to sit examinations unless it is against medical advice to do so.
Please contact me to discuss any health issues in the lead up to exams as I may be able to obtain Emergency Special Examination Arrangements which may assist the student to be able to complete the examination. The VCE Exams Navigator 2019 outlines the process (this was given to all students in late Term 3). Personal examination printouts list the closing dates (within 7 days of the date of your last exam) relevant for DES for individual students.
Any student who has misplaced their timetable or brochure can go to:
Results for all students who have studied at least one Unit 3 and 4 subject this year will be available via internet, mobile app, student email (VCE results only) and mail (from 7am) Thursday 12 December. (A detailed version of the following information is on the rear cover of the VCE Exams Navigator 2019)
The free internet service is resultsandatar.vic.edu.au
Mobile app: A new mobile app is available.
Student email: All students were offered the opportunity to record an email address on their Student Details forms earlier this year. These addresses have recently been verified.
Mail: All results will be posted hardcopy and will start to arrive in mailboxes from Thursday 12 December.
VCAA is operating a Post Results and ATAR Enquiry Service (PRAS). Phone 9032 1717 or freecall 1800 653 080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org from 7.00am – 5.00pm on Thursday 12 December and then from 13–16 December.
All VCE students must be in the habit of regularly checking emails as this is the way that universities will be corresponding with you.
Change of preference and December offers
VCAA and VTAC have made changes to the previous year’s arrangements with regards to results and offerings.
- Results will be released at 7am on Thursday 12 December.
- Change of preference is open from release of results until 4pm on Saturday 14 December.
- First round of December offers will be released on Wednesday 18 December (not all courses will make offers at this time).
- Change of preference is open again from this day until 4pm on Friday 20 December.
These dates fall after teaching staff have finished for the year.
There will be limited staff onsite (Gina Bolch, Pak and I included) on the following dates/times to assist students with results and change of preference:
12 & 13 December, 9.00am – 4.00pm: We always endeavour to make phone contact with every Year 12 student on results release day; our aim is to check in and see if they would like any support. We ring mobiles multiple times, if needed, and leave phone and email messages if we cannot make contact.
18 December, 9.00am – 3.00pm: This is the first year that offers have been made in Victoria in December. We imagine that there will be very few students needing support on this day. Hopefully all students will have already followed through with suggestions from previous course counselling / change of preference meetings.
Year 11 Semester 2 Examinations
The Unit 2 Examinations will be held from Friday 15 November – Friday 22 November. A letter which includes the examination timetable will be issued to students separately. Mr Bryn Bowen is in charge of running Year 11 exams.
Friday 8 November is a Report Writing Day at Senior Campus. Staff will be finalising Reports and thus students are not required at school on this day.
VCE 2020 Orientation Program and Subject Changes
In Week 10 Term 3 we sent out 2020 subject confirmations for VCE (2020) students. We should be in a position to send out subject confirmations to our Year 9-10 students (2020) next week. We do have a number of electives not running and clashes do occur, so, as per the Subject Handbook, we have used reserve choices, where required, to make up full student programs. For the size of our school, we offer a huge variety of programs including running many small classes (under 15) that would simply not occur in other schools. Our process also starts from a position where we create a grid that best suits the greatest number of students. Students have the opportunity make subject changes, within the constraints of class sizes and subject grids.
This process is all about empowering students, and so our first step is always to speak with the students involved. Students are then encouraged to start the dialogue at home and parents are welcome to be part of the discussion toward finding a solution.
During Week 8 (25–29 November) we are running the Year 11 and 12 (2020) Orientation program. This program is invaluable as it focuses students on preparation for their VCE studies the following year. Staff will begin to teach 2020 courses during this time. This is a COMPULSORY week-long program for all VCE students.
- Although every effort will be made to ensure that staffing is correct for VCE classes during Orientation Week, staffing changes may still occur.
- Students who wish to change subjects during/after Orientation Week MUST do so in consultation with Gina Bolch/Deb Agar – changes will ONLY be able to occur within the timetable grid and where class sizes permit (and require signed parent permission).
Ever feel like you’re about to lose it? Ever see your kids lose it? It could be a good time to take a moment to consider the importance of Social and Emotional Literacy (SEL).
When we’re overwhelmed by emotions, we’re usually not our best selves. We may blow up, say hurtful things or burst into tears. It may lead us to avoid certain situations or people. Sound familiar? But what if we had a tool that we could use to turn down the temperature at those times? A tool we could model to our kids. Psychologist Marc Brackett has a helpful strategy.
As founding director of the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and a professor at the Yale Child Study Centre, psychologist Marc Brackett has devoted the past 25 years to conducting research and developing RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning which has been integrated into more than 2,000 schools in the US and around the world.
Here is an excerpt from his new book Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive by Marc Brackett. Copyright © 2019 Marc Brackett. Reprinted with the permission of Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing, LLC.
Here, he writes about a particularly useful tactic that we can all use to defuse potentially destructive responses.
As we all know, our best attempts at calm, thoughtful reflection work only when we feel in control of our emotions. If you’re raging with resentment or crushed by disappointment, you’re probably not capable of the reasoning required to see a situation in a new light. You first need to bring down your emotional temperature, lower your activation, and give yourself the space required for rational thought. You might take a few deep breaths, a few steps back, a walk around the block.
Or, maybe you’re ready for the Meta-Moment. A decade ago, Robin Stern, psychoanalyst and associate director of our center, and I were wondering why so many people in our society are addicted to strategies that derail them from achieving their goals. Robin had worked with hundreds of patients who were unsuccessful even after learning new tactics, and I observed schoolchildren and educators who didn’t employ the strategies they were learning — even when they knew they were helpful.
“Pausing helps you refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion,” says author and consultant Justin Bariso.
Many of us were exposed to destructive responses early in our lives — negative talk, screaming, blaming and so on. They require little cognitive control, and they’re often effective at getting rid of negative feelings and providing temporary gratification. But at the time, we fail to realize these strategies also can ruin our relationships and derail us from achieving our goals.
So we developed a tool we call the Meta-Moment — a hitting of the brakes and stepping out of time. We call it “meta” because it’s a moment about a moment. It might mean mentally counting, as in 1, 2, 3, or 1 to 10, depending on the severity of the emotion. Taking one or several deep breaths may also be a part of it — anything to give ourselves room to maneuver and deactivate.
A Meta-Moment is when we stop the action and say, “Am I hearing this correctly?” Or maybe we might say, “I need to pause and take a deep breath right now so I don’t blow my top, break down sobbing, or react in some way I will probably regret.” This helps us go beyond our first impulse and find a wiser response. As the author and consultant Justin Bariso put it, “Pausing helps you refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.”
Pausing gives us the chance to ask two useful questions: “How have I handled situations like this in the past?” and “What would my best self do right now?”
Pausing and taking a deep breath activates our parasympathetic nervous system. This reduces the release of cortisol, a major stress hormone, and naturally lowers our emotional temperature. Pausing also gives us the chance to quickly ask two useful questions: “How have I handled situations like this in the past?” and “What would my best self do right now?”
To tap into their best selves, some people may think of a set of adjectives such as “compassionate”, “intelligent” or “conscientious”. Other people could picture an image or look at an object. A good friend who is principal of a middle school has a Smurf on her desk to remind her to be her best self. Visualizing our best self can redirect our attention away from the triggering person, words or event and back towards our values.
A couple years ago, a student raised his hand in class and said, “I have a question that I don’t think even you’ll know how to answer.” To say that I was activated is an understatement — arrogance is a trigger for me. I wanted to reply: “I might not know the answer, but remember I grade your papers!” Instead, I reached into my “professor of emotional intelligence” self and asked “How about if I get questions from some of the other students now, and we can chat after class?” Then, I politely informed him that his question could have been worded more diplomatically.
I took myself out of the moment, visualized my best self as ‘the feelings master,’ and paused. In that small window of time, I calmed myself.
More recently, I was giving a presentation to a large group when someone challenged me on a point. She didn’t ask a question or offer a dissenting opinion; she just came at me to put me down. “A lot of us in the room would not necessarily agree with that model,” she said. My first impulse was to fire back and embarrass her with a comment like “A lot of us, meaning you and your 30 personalities.”
But I didn’t allow myself that petty pleasure. Instead, I took myself out of the moment, visualized my best self as “the feelings master,” and paused. In that small window of time, I calmed myself. “I’d love to connect with you later to hear your thoughts,” I said. Nobody in that room knew how close I came to losing it.
The Meta-Moment is not just for regulating unpleasant emotions. Sometimes our best selves help us to stand up for what’s right. Once, during a speech, a colleague bullied me in an unusual way — he joked about the fact that I was bullied as a child. My first impulse was to run onstage and deliver a flying dropkick to his head; I regressed to that middle schooler being pushed around in the locker room. But I took a Meta-Moment and I waited until after the presentation. I went up to him and said, “I have no idea what motivated you to say those words, but it wasn’t cool and you can’t ever do it again.”
What are your go-to strategies when you are triggered or caught off guard? Do you ignore your feelings, act out, or meet them head-on?
I count these as victories for the Meta-Moment.
How skilled are you at taking a Meta-Moment? What adjectives characterize your best self? What are your go-to strategies when you are triggered or caught off guard? Do you ignore your feelings, act out, or meet them head-on?
When your boss criticizes your work and you feel disappointed, devastated or resentful, how successful are you at taking a Meta-Moment and saying to yourself something like “Feedback is a gift, there is always something I can learn”?
When your daughter won’t do her homework, do you argue, threaten, plead, grimace in disgust, explode in rage … or do you take a deep breath, evoke your best self, think about the most effective strategy with this particular child and calmly take action?
Here are the steps to take for a Meta-Moment.
1. Sense the shift.
You are activated, caught off guard, or have an impulse to say or do something you might regret. You feel a shift in your thinking or body or both.
2. Stop or pause.
Step back and breathe. Breathe again.
3. See your best self.
Think of adjectives or an image that helps your best self appear in vivid detail, or look at an object that reminds you. You might also think about your reputation: How do you want to be seen, talked about, and experienced? What would you do if someone you respect were watching you?
4. Strategize and act.
You reach into your tool kit of healthy responses — positive self-talk and reframing are two good options — and choose the path that will close the gap between your triggered self and your emerging best self. This should always be the last step.
There are a few final aspects of this kind of emotion regulation to keep in mind. Because regulation requires brainpower — moving from automatic and unhelpful to deliberate and helpful strategies is hard work — it also depends on factors such as diet, exercise and sleep. When we eat poorly, our minds don’t function properly. Too much sugar or refined flour can cause our blood glucose to spike and then plummet, which affects cognitive functioning and self-control.
I think Mike Tyson had it right when he said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’
Too little physical activity also has a negative effect on mental capacity and moods, as does poor quality or insufficient sleep. Sleep serves a restorative function. When we don’t get enough or get too much, we can show more symptoms of anxiety and depression. Inadequate sleep is associated with reduced connections between the brain regions responsible for cognitive control and behaviour and the use of effective emotion regulation strategies.
We can take two other measures to safeguard our overall well-being — the first is to do things we love. Spend time with family and friends, pursue passions and pastimes, get in touch with our spiritual side, immerse ourselves in nature, read a good book, watch a great movie. We build up cognitive reserves that way, which help us when emotional turmoil inevitably strikes.
The second measure is to practice mindful breathing. Daily practice enhances our ability to be present, accept the feelings that arise, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by them.
Recently, after an exhausting day of delayed flights, missed connections and other irritations, I felt on the verge of a meltdown. So I asked myself: “If a college professor with a doctorate in psychology has difficulty regulating emotions, what must it be like for a nine-year-old child or an adult under genuinely challenging pressures who have had little to no training in emotion skills?”
That calmed me down in a hurry. I think Mike Tyson had it right when he said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” What’s true in the boxing ring is true everywhere else. It’s easy to say that from now on we’ll master all our emotional responses, until our significant other or child or neighbour or boss triggers us with a word or look and all our training goes out the window.
Along with permission to feel, we must also give ourselves permission to fail. When that happens, we can only try again — take a deep breath or two, envision our best selves, and start over. We also need the courage to apologize and forgive ourselves as we’d forgive others. Courage might even mean seeking professional help when all else fails. We’ll never stop having to work at being our best selves. But the payoff is worth it: better health, better decision making, better relationships, better everything.
Check out The Mood Meter APP.
Additional articles to explore:
- Stanford News – ‘Embrace the struggle’: Stanford education professor challenges common beliefs about teaching and learning
- KQED – Why The Art of Speaking Should Be Taught Alongside Math and Literacy
- University of Melbourne – Pursuit: An alternative to ATAR
Yours in supporting and promoting positive student wellbeing,
Director of Counselling
The Arthurs Seat Challenge is a 6.7km run/walk held annually since 2002 to promote and raise funds for the Fit to Drive Program. The proceeds from this event enable the continuation of this program, which is currently provided to our local schools free of charge.
It's a wonderful annual event that Woodleigh School has supported for a number of years. Once again, we encourage our Woodleigh community to take part this year. The event is definitely not easy, however, such a rewarding and meaningful initiative to be a part of. At the finish line you will also be entertained by one of our school bands The Mammals.
The event takes place on Sunday 10 November. You can register to either run or walk and we encourage you to join the ‘Woodleigh School Team’. Please invite your friends and family members to join too.
Happy training and we hope to see you there!
No bookings required, though there will be a gold coin donation at the door!
Save the date!
The Arty Market, Woodleigh’s Twilight Maker’s Market is on Friday 29 November 4pm-8pm
The market features 100 stalls, selling handmade, unique and ethically sourced items, many of which have been made by Woodleigh students!
Woodleigh students, parents, alumni and friends will be selling a diverse range of goods including, home wares, jewellery, clothing, food and gifts. There will also be live music, performed by some of our very talented student musicians! Delicious food will be available from a selection of food trucks too!
Bring friends, family and market-lovers to our twilight Maker's Market. It's a great opportunity to buy very special Christmas gifts or just a little something for yourself!
The market is from 4pm–8pm on Friday 29 November at Woodleigh Senior Campus, 485 Golf Links Road, Langwarrin South.
All very welcome!