Introducing Visible Wellbeing™ and SEARCH Groups
Over a number of years, the school has been developing and implementing a Positive Education approach to support the wellbeing and mental health of both students staff. This approach has been guided and informed by the science of wellbeing, positive psychology. To support the ongoing development of teacher knowledge and classroom practice, I am delighted to announce that ASPS has become a Visible Wellbeing™ partner school. “Designed by Dr Lea Waters (PhD), research professor and world expert in positive psychology, Visible Wellbeing™ (VWB) combines the science of wellbeing with the science of learning and teaching to make wellbeing visible in all classes and across co-curricula. The VWB techniques help teachers to use the learning process itself as a delivery mechanism to build student wellbeing. VWB is not a set curriculum, it is a flexible approach which can be applied across any subject matter, and in all contexts – early learning, primary, secondary, and in the staff room. With the VWB approach, academic learning and wellbeing are truly integrated.”
To guide this approach, professor Waters has developed the SEARCH wellbeing framework with prioritises the following domains of wellbeing:
Strengths: Strengths can be thought of as personal characteristics—including personality traits, physical and psychological abilities, and moral qualities—that feel natural and enjoyable, and allows them to perform at their best. They are capacities, characteristics, and processes that are energising and authentic to use.
Emotional Management: Our feelings can also impact on how our body functions. They are influenced by our circumstances, thoughts and physiology. Being present with one’s emotions and being able to identify, understand and manage one’s emotions (i.e., reduce their negative emotions and increase their positive emotions), is a key aspect of positive functioning.
Attention and Awareness: Attention is our ability to focus, either on inner aspects of self, such as emotions and physical sensations, or on external stimuli (e.g., the teacher’s lesson in a classroom). Awareness refers to the ability to pay attention to a stimulus as it occurs. Wellbeing is improved when individuals are aware of, and can consciously direct, their attention.
Relationships: A student’s social skills play an important role in allowing him/her to develop nourishing relationships with others. This domain involves helping students to understand, express and manage the social aspects of their learning.
Coping: Having the resilience to cope with adversity is an essential life skill. Coping can be thought of being able to balance the demands of life with the resources we have to manage those demands, and being able to bounce back when we get thrown off balance.
Habits and Goals: Habits are those automatic processes that we do without even thinking about them – they can be both beneficial and detrimental to our wellbeing. Knowing how to break the bad, and create the good habits can help us progress towards our goals. When we set goals it can provide us with a sense of purpose, mastery and direction in life.
(Source: Visible Wellbeing™)
Over the next 2 years, staff will develop their understanding within each of the SEARCH domains and how they can embed wellbeing strategies into their daily classroom practice.
To support the school’s implementation of Visible Wellbeing™ language and strategies, all students will participate in multi-age (vertical groups with students from P-6) SEARCH groups which will be run 2-3 times per term. Each SEARCH group session will focus on a specific domain of wellbeing. This Monday (instead of assembly), we will be running our first SEARCH group session for the year and the focus will be on the Strengths domain. All students have been allocated into a SEARCH group based on their house group and they will be led by 2 members of staff throughout the year. We anticipate that the SEARCH Groups initiative will support a whole school approach to wellbeing while developing positive relationships between students and across different levels.
In preparation for Monday’s first SEARCH group session, I encourage all families to have a discussion around what each member of your family’s strengths are. Remember, strengths are not skills or things that you do well, they are character attributes that support you in being your best self in a range of activities and contexts (i.e. perseverance, gratitude, love of learning, leadership).
Families can build their understanding of strengths by exploring the Value in Action (VIA) website.