From the Deputy Head of Middle School

We all know that learning and wellbeing are intricately linked. Learning is, of course, a dynamic experience, and our emotions form a critical piece of how, what, when and why we all think, remember and learn. It is no surprise, therefore, that we often think most deeply about the things we care most about. For students to experience real and meaningful learning, we as their teachers and educational support staff need to find ways to capitalise on the emotional aspects of learning. As an English teacher, I have long grappled with the way books make students feel. Often, working with texts like To Kill a Mockingbird or Hamlet, or ones concerned with bullying, like, Lord of the Flies or Margaret Attwood’s Cat’s Eye, will offer profound opportunities to teach students about complex human emotions. It is always important to acknowledge students’ reactions to the study of texts – what kinds of emotions are elicited and how do they make sense of them?

Every school takes seriously its responsibility to foster students’ emotional wellbeing and to help them obtain and maintain strong emotional intelligence. The focus on our 10 Attributes of a Positive Learner at Carey is one significant way through which we aim to do that. The learning that students experience at Carey should help them develop into reflective adults who have the capacity to, amongst other things, inquire, communicate well, connect, and build strong and emotionally healthy relationships.

Indeed, the research tells us that it is more important now than perhaps at any other point in recent history that we focus on proactive and preventative strategies to help develop students’ positive sense of wellbeing. The 2015 Mission Australia survey reported that the top three issues of concern for young people were coping with stress, school or study problems, and body image:

  • Coping with stress was the top issue of concern, with 38.4% of respondents indicating that they were extremely concerned.
  • School or study problems was a major concern for 33.6% of respondents.
  • Body image was also an important issue of concern for 26.5% of respondents.
  • Around one in five respondents were either extremely concerned or very concerned about depression and family conflict.

We also know that our students are of an age that they have never been without computers or the internet. In many respects, this technology helps break down traditional barriers to accessing proactive and preventive measures to support positive wellbeing and strong, healthy emotions for learning. Below, for your interest, are a number of – mostly free – apps designed to assist students, or all learners really, in that process:

Recharge – Move Well, Sleep Well, Be Well
A personalised six-week program that helps improve your general health and wellbeing.

Mediterranean Life Style For Dummies
Explains the basics of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

ReachOut Breathe
Helps you to reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety by slowing down your breathing and your heart rate with your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Smiling Mind
Meditation made easy. A simple tool that helps put a smile on your mind anytime, anywhere and every day.

The Check-in
Designed by beyondblue and Two Bulls, in consultation with young people, to help take the fear out of having a conversation with a friend who might be struggling.

MoodKit – Mood Improvement Tools ($7.99)
Improve your mood.

Allan Griffin
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Wellbeing