Welcome to week 4.
Finally we have been able to get into some celebrations for our Year 12 students. Across this week they have been able to wear their old Primary School uniform, their pyjamas and finally come to school as 2000’s movie characters. Today we held a Year 12 Picnic on the Hawthorn Road oval. Students were encouraged to being a picnic blanket and their lunch. There was uniform signing, music, basketball and downball. This has been an important part of moving forward from Covid and providing the types of rituals that are such an important part of Year 12. Next Thursday 5th November we are holding our Year 12 Graduation. This will be an event that has components of the normal Final Assembly, Valedictory and some new ideas that we have included this year. The event will be live streamed to their families and friends. More information will be available soon.
As we are all aware our students this year have all missed out on many fantastic elements of a normal school year. They have also made many sacrifices in their personal lives to fight Covid, and may well be feeling like they have been a bit ripped off by the year 2020. Feelings of sadness and grief for the things they have missed this year are very normal. It is actually OK to grieve what may appear minor things such as the basketball season not proceeding, or dance lessons cancelled, in the midst of something so big.
Psychologists say it’s not only OK, it’s essential — so long as you eventually move on. Psychologist Lea Waters, from the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne, where our College has sourced most of our philosophy on Positive Education from, says the first step is giving yourself permission to be disappointed. “People think there’s a hierarchy to suffering, and if the thing that’s causing you disappointment is lower on the hierarchy we have this tendency to dismiss our emotions,” she says. “But if we store up all of these little sadnesses on top of the big collective fear and anxiety, it’s not going to be a healthy recipe for our own mental health.”
Parents and carers should also acknowledge their kids’ disappointments. “Actively listen, show empathy, reflect how they’re feeling, and then legitimise it by saying you understand and that it’s OK to feel this way,” Professor Waters says. Professor Waters says we often mistake accepting sadness with self-pity. “But if you acknowledge and legitimise, you’re actually less likely to wallow,” she says. “Experiencing those emotions in the moment releases them. If you don’t they accumulate, and that’s when you wallow and have a likelihood of becoming bitter and negatively affected in the long-run.”
Research has shown that expressing gratitude daily can also have a profound impact on our mental and physical health. We encourage all members of our community to adopt this as part of your daily routines. For example today marks World Teachers Day. Our College arranged a small card for all teachers and free coffee to start their day, to express our gratitude for their great work.
Professor Waters says giving meaning or purpose to suffering can also help with processing losses and disappointments. “When we think about the fallout of social distancing, we need to remember we are doing this to save people’s lives,” she says. And then we can put our disappointments into perspective by thinking of the future. “It seems like a really big thing in this moment but when you put it on a time chart, ask yourself: How big is it going to be in a year, or 10 years?” Professor Waters says. “It won’t be completely gone but the sting of the disappointment will be much lighter.”
The final and often unexpected step in moving through adversity is growth, says Professor Waters. “We can use the experience as a learning opportunity. “If we’re asking questions like ‘why me?’ that does make us bitter. If we change those questions to ‘what did I learn?’ or ‘what were the silver linings?’ that’s when we will trigger adversarial growth. “Down the track, when life throws us a curveball, we’ll know that we’ve got this and that we’re actually going to grow and we can say ‘bring it on’.”
So now that we are all back, and Leap Up will be starting soon, I say bring on 2021!!!
Have a great weekend!