11 May 2023

Staying positive, especially when the sun disappears

Heads of SchoolMiddle School
Staying positive, especially when the sun disappears
Staying positive, especially when the sun disappears
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As we move into the colder and darker months of the year and the major summative assessment period of the first semester, it can be helpful for families and students to endeavour to focus on the power of positivity.

Issues such as excessive connectivity and screen time, overuse of mobile phones, regularly checking social media feeds, self-identity and friendship challenges, mental health and stress about academic achievement are a huge part of the Middle School journey. We are constantly working strategically to find solutions and proactive measures to manage and support students with these issues. From experience, we have certainly found that a solution-focussed attitude, an open mind and a willingness from everyone to collaborate makes the process easier and more importantly leads to better outcomes for students.

Sometimes we accidently only focus on the particular problem or end result and miss the importance of the journey and the reflection opportunity of the result whether it be positive or negative. As adults, we can help students to develop a sense of personal growth and academic achievement, by focussing on the big picture and growth goals rather than only performance goals. When we encourage students to recognise their own improvements and mastery, we help them to consider their fortune in terms of their own efforts, thus establishing an internal locus of control.

The power of positive thinking is such a valuable tool for Middle School students as it has a significant impact on wellbeing and building a sense of hope and success. Encouraging a positive outlook and fostering a sense of optimism and calm can help students navigate through challenges, build resilience and develop a strong sense of self-confidence. When faced with difficult tasks or academic setbacks, students who adopt a positive mindset believe in their ability to overcome obstacles and view them as opportunities for growth. This optimistic outlook enables students to approach challenges with determination and perseverance, leading to a sense of achievement.

Middle School is a huge time of self-discovery and, by trying to keep a reasonably positive outlook, students can cultivate healthy relationships, resolve conflicts and handle social pressures more effectively. Current research suggests that pragmatic and positive people display much greater resilience in the face of disappointing news or challenging situations, be it missing out on something, receiving a poor grade, getting tired and stressed or a negative friendship issue. Parents, siblings, teachers and peers all play a massive role in helping students build positivity but most of the grunt work needs to come from the individual. The more we can encourage young people to take responsibility for their own journeys and let them solve problems, deal with disappointment and allow for reflection from failure the better. If we step in every time something doesn’t go to plan, we don’t allow them the chance to grow and build strategies to cope for themselves.

We can help kids to feel a sense of positive self-concept by providing a broad range of experiences where they can discover which things come easily and which things require more effort. Throughout Term 2, there are a huge range of different learning opportunities designed to build engagement, excitement and fun. We have the super fun House Music competition, the moving House Chapels and numerous subject excursions such as exploring the Cape Shanck or walking Aboriginal songline trails. We are also excited for the amazing Carey Celebrates Literature Festival which includes a massive range of learning opportunities such as the empowering and deep messages around the creative process, exploring the ‘wild’ and ‘shadowy’ places in our minds, or the elation of seeing the possibility of creating something special in a poetry or writing activity.

The Carey learning journey is purposefully challenging, varied, fun and complex and provides so many opportunities for growth. The secret is trying to get the most out of all the opportunities – as Mr Walter succinctly challenges our students – ‘be respectful of yourself’.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School

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