At Geelong Grammar School (GGS), we're deeply committed to prioritising student wellbeing as a core element of our educational mission. Our approach is built on proactive strategies and data-driven insights. In this article, we'll delve into our proposed 2024 wellbeing theme for our GGS primary school campuses, 'Open and Growing Mind.' This theme is guided by our students' Mi7 wellbeing survey data and is driven by our dedicated Positive Education Coordinators, Jacqui Moses and Sean Micelli – two names you might recognise from our most recent Spotlight on Practice series interview. Our aim is to provide practical insights and actionable guidance on leveraging measurement to enhance student wellbeing in your own school community.
How do we measure student wellbeing at GGS?
Central to our measurement-driven approach to student wellbeing is our Mi7 Survey. -- a unique tool we developed in close collaboration with Resilient Youth Australia and academics at the University of South Australia. Drawing on our expertise in supporting schools world-wide to improve student wellbeing, this survey captures seven interconnected areas of wellbeing: Positive Relationships, Positive Emotions, Positive Health, Positive Engagement, Positive Accomplishment, Positive Purpose, and Character Strengths.
This unique tool was developed in collaboration with Resilient Youth Australia and academics at the University of South Australia. Drawing upon our expertise in supporting schools worldwide in improving student wellbeing, this survey captures seven interconnected areas of wellbeing: Positive Relationships, Positive Emotions, Positive Health, Positive Engagement, Positive Accomplishment, Positive Purpose, and Character Strengths. With a solid foundation in scientific validation and reliability, the Mi7 Survey allows schools, including GGS, to measure and report on vital wellbeing data within their cohorts.
We recognised that existing tools did not fully align with the specific needs of schools focusing on wellbeing and Positive Education, so we took the initiative to create the Mi7 Survey. This tool equips educators and wellbeing team members with invaluable insights that inform their strategic planning and practice, ultimately guiding them in fostering positive outcomes for their students.
Empowering Positive Change: The Journey of ‘Project Hope’ and Beyond
One notable example of GGS’s commitment to proactive and data-driven wellbeing initiatives is Jacqui Moses' ‘Project Hope,’ initiated in 2022. The 2021/2022 Mi7 Survey’s wellbeing data highlighted lower levels of hope among GGS primary students, particularly their future-mindedness and optimism likely due to the pandemic. Combining insights from staff and student discussions with the Mi7 data, key wellbeing leaders undertook the task of reimagining their wellbeing approach.
The result was the development of a comprehensive scope and sequence that integrated specific wellbeing concepts related to hope. The goal was to equip our young learners with the necessary skills and strategies to embrace the future with positive expectations, a hopeful perspective, and a sense of personal agency. Encouragingly, the Mi7 Survey data revealed substantial improvements in students' levels of hope from 2022 to 2023, as demonstrated by all dimensions of the Children’s Hope Scale, a valid and reliable measure. These dimensions now consistently align with or surpass Australian norms. For instance, GGS students reported increased confidence in statements such as 'I am doing as well as other kids,' 'I can come up with ways to solve problems,' and 'My past experiences will help me in the future.' This positive shift underscores the effectiveness of our wellbeing initiatives in nurturing hope among our students.
Building on Project Hope’s successes and armed with the 2022 Mi7 Survey insights, particularly concerning students’ relationships, both GGS primary campuses embraced the theme of 'Belonging' for the 2023 school year. Informed by attachment theory, social-emotional learning, positive psychology, and current research, this theme aimed to foster a culture of belonging within our school community. Our overarching goal has been to create an inclusive environment where every individual feels valued, supported, and connected. This collaborative approach showcases how measurement-based insights can drive meaningful whole-school wellbeing initiatives. To learn more about our 2022 and 2023 wellbeing initiatives, we encourage you to watch the recorded Spotlight on Practice interview with Jacqui and Sean, where they discuss these in more detail. We are excited to see what the 2024 Mi7 data may reveal about improvements to student belonging at GGS!
The Evolution: ‘Open and Growing Mind’ Theme for 2024
Informed by our latest 2023 Mi7 Survey data and ongoing trends, we’ve identified specific areas where students at both GGS primary school campuses would benefit from additional wellbeing support. These include fostering respectful behaviour, enhancing mental health, developing adaptability and nurturing coping skills. To address these insights, Jacqui, Sean and Jen from our Positive Education team, recently came together to begin shaping the 2024 wellbeing theme, tentatively titled 'Open and Growing Mind'.
While the 2024 theme is in its early planning phase, its core will remain grounded in essential wellbeing concepts identified as crucial for supporting our students' unique wellbeing needs at this time. These concepts include emotional intelligence, positive relationships, character strengths, resilience, open-mindedness, and growth mindset. We aim to not only continue fostering students' deep sense of belonging as in our 2023 theme, but also nurture a united, empowered school community that celebrates diversity, fosters personal growth, and strengthens resilience.
Building upon the successful approach we adopted with our previous years' wellbeing themes – such as our 2023 theme of 'Belonging,' which has encompassed the sub-themes of Physical and Emotional Safety, Social Connection, and Inclusive Environment – we are employing a similar strategic approach for our 2024 theme. This approach involves breaking down the overarching theme of ‘Open and Growing Mind’ into manageable and targeted sub-themes. These sub-themes will serve as guiding frameworks for implementing specific activities and interventions that align with their distinct emphases.
Our approach is informed by evidence whenever available, ensuring that each sub-theme comprises a meaningful grouping of the aforementioned wellbeing concepts. We intentionally sequence these sub-themes based on considerations of child development and the progressive acquisition of wellbeing-related skills, which allows the sub-themes to naturally unfold over the course of the year, providing a comprehensive and coherent journey towards fostering student wellbeing.
Our proposed sub-themes within the 'Open and Growing Mind' framework will guide educators in nurturing holistic growth and meeting our students' specific needs as identified by the Mi7 data. In Term 1, the focus will likely revolve around 'Creating a Culture of Respect and Unity,' emphasising emotional intelligence and positive relationships. Students will cultivate effective communication skills, engage in active listening, and navigate emotions through activities like role-play, storytelling, and journaling. Term 2, 'Building our Inner Strength,' centres on resilience and character strengths. This term aims to enhance coping strategies, foster self-awareness, and explore the Zones of Regulation. In Term 3, 'The Power of Open-Minded Learning,' students embrace open-mindedness and growth mindset, appreciating diverse viewpoints and developing strategies for curiosity and embracing change. Finally, in Term 4, 'Navigating Change with Confidence,' the focus will likely turn to adaptability and coping skills, enabling students to handle uncertainties and transitions through group discussions, creative projects, and role-play.
Next Steps for Our 2024 Theme
Drawing upon our collective experience, best practices, and Mi7 data, we're fully committed to evolving our approach and bringing the 2024 theme, 'Open and Growing Mind,' to life within our school community. In the immediate future, we'll collaborate closely with cross-campus wellbeing leaders to fine-tune our theme, ensuring it aligns seamlessly with our overarching wellbeing strategies.
Looking further ahead, we're eagerly anticipating the involvement of our primary educators in a brainstorming workshop during our upcoming biannual staff conference early next year. This collaborative approach will foster deep and meaningful conversations, and it will serve as the starting point for creating a dynamic, 'living' scope and sequence document.
This resource will outline the termly sub-themes, catering to different grade level groupings (ELC, early primary, late primary), and will be an interactive space for staff input and collaboration. It's designed to enrich the learning experience for GGS primary students, offering a wealth of ideas for classroom activities, connections to relevant PEEC lessons, and recommendations for whole-school practices. Beyond this, the document's goal is to cultivate a sense of belonging and establish a strong GGS community of practice, allowing teachers to share resources and support one another throughout the year.
This collective effort is pivotal in defining the fundamental elements underpinning our 2024 theme and ensuring its successful implementation across both primary campuses.
Important Reflections for Your School
As the new school year quickly approaches and you embark on a similar journey to enhance wellbeing at your school, consider the following:
- How can you align your wellbeing initiatives with your school's values?
- In what ways can you involve educators to cultivate ownership and enthusiasm?
- How will you monitor and adjust initiatives based on wellbeing data?
By harnessing the power of measurement, collaboration, and intentional planning, schools can nurture school communities that prioritise wellbeing. As educators and leaders who champion wellbeing, let's embrace the potential of measurement to shape impactful practices that support students to flourish. If the Mi7 Survey resonates as a tool for enhancing student wellbeing at your school, connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 3 5227 6222 to learn more.