LAKE WINDEMERE B-7 SCHOOL

Mindfulness and Positive Education

 Mindfulness is the act of bringing attention to an activity that is normally done mindlessly or automatically and observing the physical and emotional responses without engagement.

Mindfulness practice has become a useful tool in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety and behavioural disorders such as ADHD (Gu, Strauss, et al. 2015). It has also been found to be a valuable component of Positive Education.   

Mindfulness can be practised either formally or informally. A formal mindfulness meditation serves to develop the skills of mindful awareness in order to deploy them in stressful day to day situations. 

Positive Education first came to Lake Windemere School after the school’s previous principal attended a conference in 2012. Upon her return, she created a plan to ensure that several staff members would attend Positive Education workshops at Geelong Grammar each year. The school currently has 20 staff members trained through these workshops who have, in turn, ensured that Positive Education is a consideration in all activities at the school. 

Carmine Cafasso, the current principal at Lake Windemere School, believes that students had low hope and their wellbeing issues were having a huge negative impact on the progress being made at school. Positive Education offered a way to counteract the negative impact of issues such as family dysfunction, poverty, unemployment and mental health. By learning the skills to cope with such large challenges early in life, students are given the building blocks to become well-adjusted and resilient adults.    

Jillian Hegarty, Positive Education teacher at Lake Windemere said that the introduction of Positive Education programmes, particularly those based on mindfulness have had a profound impact on student behaviour. 

“Amongst other initiatives, our mindfulness sessions have been introduced after lunch play to settle students. Incident reports to the front office dropped remarkably in our trial term. Consequently, all classes across the school now timetable mindfulness before the afternoon lessons begin,” she said. 

The inclusion of Positive Education in the curriculum at Lake Windemere School has helped students to become more able to be reflective, proactive and thoughtful. As a result, there are less classroom and playground disruptions, improving the learning experience for all students. 

The influence of Positive Education has reached beyond the classroom at Lake Windemere School. Students have reported using strategies learned from Positive Education to resolve friendship issues. Parents have also found that their children come home talking about ‘speck of gold’ moments from their day and generally have more positive stories to share. 

In the staffroom, teachers are mindful of encouraging the sharing of ideas and positive professional discussion which has led to a noticeable lift in staff moral and energy levels. 

Early anecdotal evidence is already reflecting the encouraging impact of Positive Education at the school. Surrounding high schools have reported that incoming students from Lake Windemere School are calmer when compared to students from previous years or students from other schools. 

The inclusion of Positive Education in the Lake Windemere School curriculum has led to a better learning environment and a more optimistic outlook both for the students and the school community. Students and staff have incorporated a mindful attitude into their daily lives in order to get more from their lessons and to improve their interactions. 

REFERENCES

Gu, J., Strauss, C., Bond, R., & Cavanagh, K. (2015). How do mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction improve mental health and wellbeing? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mediation studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 371-12. 

December 2015