From the Head of Crowther Centre – Dr Ray Swann
Having purpose in our learning
One of the exciting dimensions of our Effective Learner model is that it helps us to recognise the powerful role played by wellbeing – in our classrooms in particular, and in our lives more broadly. Kay Rogers, previously Director of Student Wellbeing at BGS, has taken up a new role as Head of Mindfulness across the School. Kay’s work in teaching mindfulness and facilitating staff training will lay a powerful foundation for our boys as they prepare for life as adults. This involves introducing and practising routines that we hope will become embedded practices. (For more from Kay on mindfulness, see her recent post on Understanding Boys.)
As you can see in the Effective Learner diagram, the four key quadrants are being ready to learn, knowing where I am ‘in’ the curriculum (and what to do next), knowing how to learn and providing feedback. Underpinning these are the PROPSER wellbeing values that we teach to the boys:
• Positive education (encouraging positivity), which means adopting optimistic values that trigger positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2009)
• Relationships (building a positive school culture and relationships within that culture)
• Outcomes and accomplishments (being recognised for learning)
• Strengths (an individual’s way of behaving, thinking or feeling that enables them to perform at their personal best; Wood et al., 2011)
• Purpose (a critical part of having meaning in life; Seligman, 2011)
• Engagement (the observable manifestation of student motivation to learn; Fredericks et al., 2004)
• Resilience (the ability to persist, cope adaptively and bounce back; McGrath and Noble, 2011)
Each area of the PROSPER framework is a factor that can support our boys’ readiness to learn, knowledge of how to learn, the learning architecture and feedback.
Below, you’ll find an update on how the ELC and Junior School practise mindfulness. Having been in attendance in the ELC while the ‘glitter settles’, I can personally attest to the power of this practice of being attentive to the present moment.
From the Junior School
Throughout BGS, we have made a commitment to student wellbeing, which is integral to boys’ readiness to learn in the Junior School. The Junior School’s commitment to mindfulness began five years ago. Each day after Recess, all the boys participate in the mindfulness ‘Still Cloud’ with their Homeroom or Specialist Teacher. This is a time to focus on the present moment and to complete mindful activities based on kindness, compassion or focus. It is important that the boys can stop, focus on their breath and be aware of the present moment. Programs such as Smiling Minds and Go Noodle are often used for this practice. Other mindfulness activities include mindful movement, mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful colouring, and listening to relaxing music or sounds.
Many teachers and boys have noticed that following their mindfulness practice, the boys are more focused and ready to learn. In teaching the boys to be ready to learn, we explicitly link the focus employed during Still Cloud with the focus necessary in order to learn.
When he was in Year 6, Dylan Roberts (now in Year 8) wrote the following about mindfulness:
When I do mindfulness, I feel like I go to a different world where I am in control, I can sleep, look around, do what I want to do. It lets my mind take a break from stress. I call it my special bubble. In my bubble, anxiety or stress doesn’t exist. I see all my life’s worries floating to the sky. And at the end of mindfulness, when the finger symbols indicate the end of the session, I say bye to my bubble, and I’m ready to start work positively.
From the ELC
Mindfulness is an integrated part of the ELC curriculum and a daily experience for the boys. Each day begins with sharing the Power of the Positive Pause, when we gather, allow our glitter to settle (ask your son – this is a very real part of the program), and get ready to learn.
On Monday, Claire Clarke runs specialist wellbeing sessions that offer the boys the opportunity to extend their mindful learning. This week, we have been exploring the sensation of being gentle in our thoughts and in our actions through the sensation of touch and, ultimately, in how we use our breath.
We teach the boys the power of connection with their friends. It is a joyful experience to watch each boy react to the warmth of a smile from a friend and appreciate the importance of making eye contact with others. This loving kindness has a positive impact on both the individual and the group.
The boys in the ELC are sensory learners and using a simple resource such as a feather allows the boys to see their breath and explore fast, shallow breathing and slow, relaxed, deep breathing. We use the feathers to track our breathing in and out, and we feel the sensation of a feather travelling up and down each finger on our hand with each breath in and out. This simple practice encourages the boys to relax and take slow, gentle, mindful breaths. Connecting with the breath is an essential element of how we support the boys’ social and emotional regulation; it also helps them with resilience, problem-solving and reconciliation.
The ELC4 boys are loving their visits to the Wellbeing Centre each Monday, where they are able to explore mindfulness themes in a beautiful, purpose-built space. We are really looking forward to sharing the Wellbeing Centre with the Wombat and Bilby boys towards the end of Term 1.
We are running a workshop to explore the Effective Learner model in March. Two dates are available 9 March and 14 March.
Bookings are strictly limited and places are filling fast.
To secure your place, please follow this link and choose your preferred date: https://www.trybooking.com/UILL
Should you have any thoughts or queries about our Crowther programs, feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org