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From the Head of Middle School

Carman BrionyWellbeing has become an intrinsic part of life at Concordia in 2020! Our research program has been extended this year to allow data collection at St John’s Campus to move towards an integrated approach from ELC to the post-school year. This has involved interviews and surveys with staff.

The first draft of our wellbeing framework is currently going out for feedback to all staff members and our Education Committee. It is based on local and global evidence and targets key risk and protective factors for mental health. This will involve a whole-school approach with a mix of explicit teaching, but with the application of key skills woven through school interactions. In the new model, key skills will be taught in a developmental sequence from ELC to the post-school year, and Pastoral Care will involve not only students, but also staff, families and recent graduates. 

  • Body image project: In conjunction with Dr Simon Wilksch from Flinders University’s Psychology Department, we are trialling an evidence-based eight-week program in Year 6, versus Year 8, to test how early these skills gain traction;
  • Bullying and Relationships: In conjunction with Professor Phillip Slee from Flinders’ Education Department, we will be reviewing policy and education around bullying and relationships. This will involve surveying students, staff and parents around policy knowledge and utility. We will also use school data around frequency and type of issues. An eight-lesson evidence-based program will also be trialled in Years 4 and 7 (identified as key transition periods from local and global data) after training by Phillip Slee;
  • Staff wellbeing: Our second workshop on key psychological skills and active management of wellbeing is scheduled for Week 9 of this term. The Leadership Team has utilised staff wellbeing survey feedback regarding workloads and meetings, allowing more space for planning on Professional Development days. The best structure for staff wellbeing is under discussion as part of the overall Concordia wellbeing framework;
  • Parent resource: Concordia has subscribed to “School TV”, which gives curated information from experts on a range of socioemotional issues. We will be explicitly referring to sections of this, coordinated with our wellbeing strategies, in the future, but it is freely accessible now on our website;
  • 30-day wellbeing challenge: In conjunction with Healthy Minds, our Psychologist-in-Residence, Dr Catherine Johnson, has developed a 30-day wellbeing challenge for primary and secondary students. This was optional for teachers to take up, depending on existing Pastoral Care plans, and the option was eventually selected for Year 8 and Year 10.

As you can see, the College is committed to the wellbeing of our students and our school community, and we will continue to refine our data and incorporate new initiatives. We will keep you informed of these as they arise, and apprised of research results as they come to hand.

Briony Carman
Head of Middle School

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Year 11 Wellbeing Workshop

On Wednesday 29 July, the Year 11 cohort attended a wellbeing workshop run by psychologist Dr Tom Nehmy. As the demands of senior schooling are beginning to make themselves felt amongst this cohort, it was great timing for the students to receive a number of messages around wellbeing.

The first key message was that ‘wellbeing’ is about the positive health of the whole body.

Dr Nehmy introduced the ‘Wellbeing Wheel’, which identified six aspects of life:

  1. Primary relationships
  2. Biological needs and bodily health
  3. Exercise
  4. Psychological skills
  5. Fun, interests and social life
  6. Values, meaning and purpose

Students were asked to give themselves a score out of 10 for each point, with Dr Nehmy assuring the group that scoring around a 7/10 for each point would indicate ‘healthy’ wellbeing – we don’t have to be perfect! 

Another key message related to the way in which we respond to challenge. Many times in life we face challenging tasks. Our evolutionary response is to avoid the situation: to run away, or hide, or go a different way. It is important for us to take ‘safe challenges’ – things that are difficult, a bit scary, but are not going to harm us, such as public speaking, abseiling or introducing ourselves to new people.

The highest indicator of resilience is the willingness to take on challenges. Dr Nehmy encouraged us to aim for ‘willingness’ rather than ‘calm’. Habituation makes the tough seem easier over time; what seems difficult to others who have never tried it is not so difficult for those of us who have repeatedly taken on the particular challenge, as we have built up our resilience and ability to cope. [If you will excuse the gratuitous plug: much like the habituation of an IB Diploma student for study…!]

Hand in hand with willingness to have a go is healthy thinking. Dr Nehmy showed two clips: Ash Barty praising her opponent after a defeat, and indicating that she was still upbeat about her season’s prospects (today was only one day); and Neale Daniher talking to Melbourne Football Club about Fight MND, ‘Life’s good, but it doesn’t promise to be fair.’

Dr Nehmy finished by advising the students to practise self-compassion. What is my messaging to myself? Positive self-compassion boosts resilience, willingness, and strength.

As Jack (11SBUD) noted,

“I found the presentation very interesting because it had many important messages that relate to us as Year 11 students - I liked how Dr Nehmy explained that every day won't be amazing and we will fail at times and have bad days as we move through life, but we can learn from these mistakes and overcome these obstacles. This makes us stronger, better and more resilient people. It puts into perspective that we should not be worried when we feel sad at times in life; it's human nature and if we were always happy, there would probably be something wrong with us!”

Brendan Toohey
IB Diploma Coordinator
Year 11 Home Class Teacher

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Red Shield Appeal - Term 2 Fundraiser

Throughout Term 2, we supported Unley Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal. At various chapels and assemblies we raised awareness of the appeal and the work of the Salvos in our community. Due to the restrictions brought on by COVID-19, the Salvos couldn’t go through with the annual door knock and sleep-out event in the Unley Soldiers Memorial Gardens. Concordia has usually raised funds in support of the appeal in this way. Instead, Concordia created an online fundraiser for the College open for students and families to donate to the cause. To align with the idea of isolation experienced by victims of homelessness, a group of students braved the weather and slept out in their backyards alone in a thoughtful effort to raise funds for the appeal. We also held a non-uniform day for all students late in the term, where all funds raised were donated to the appeal. We raised $1,470 from the non-uniform day and just under $5000 ($4,799) from our Digital Doorknock for a total of $6,269. That’s a fantastic result! We’d like to say a massive thanks to Reno Elms (The Salvation Army, Unley) and Pastor Dale for all their help in organising this great fundraiser. A big thanks also to all the students and College families for their incredible support.

Josh Martin
College Captain

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Thematic Text Study in Year 8; An Update on our Learning Journey

Our Year 8 cohort have continued to explore the Statement of Inquiry Circumstance takes you places but community keeps you there, as part of their ‘Red Dog’ thematic text study. Late in Week 2, students commenced their learning with a lesson on ‘Australian Icons’, to provide a social context to the text. Students indulged in a Caramello Koala (strictly related to being an icon!), enjoyed a '70s Australian music playlist and were asked to identify as many ‘Australian-isms’ as they could from Australian Geographic’s anniversary image. They then engaged in a station activity, where students moved around Murtoa to investigate varied aspects of the text, including life in 1970s Australia, the mining industry, the importance of dogs in bringing community together and Indigenous links to community through picture books. Next up: Emma Rieger from our Inclusive Learning Team will be guiding the students through Sketch Noting!

 The Year 8 Team

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Drama Workshops

During Week 2, Year 9 and 10 Drama students took part in a Physical Theatre workshop with Craig McArdle from McArts. Craig is an actor, director and theatre maker from the UK who has lived and worked in Adelaide for the last eight years. His workshops were challenging, engaging and fun, and students were able to learn a whole lot of new tips and tricks to enhance their performance work. In what has obviously been a year like no other, learning in Drama and about the Arts industry has looked very different. We were very grateful to have this opportunity to work with Craig and we look forward to welcoming audiences back to the Drama Centre to see live performances very soon. 

Emma Williams
Head of Drama

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Eat Around the World in Year 8 Food Design

We may not be able to travel around the world, but we’ve brought some cultures to us here in Year 8 Food Design!

In ‘Eat Around the World’ our students researched and discovered various cultures’ national dishes. They completed a detailed workflow plan, food order of specific ingredients and presented their tables with embellishments and stylised flair from their chosen culture, including cranberry juice for wine!

Belinda Zanello
Visual Art, Media and Food Design Teacher

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SAHMRI's Wellbeing and Resilience FREE Be Well Plan

Dear Concordia Campus families

As we continue to negotiate the challenges of 2020, we have become aware of the following resource that may be helpful to those in our community.

SAHMRI’s Wellbeing and Resilience centre is currently offering FREE access to their online Be Well Plan.

This interactive program starts with an online survey, and helps you create your own personalised wellbeing guide. This is full of activities to improve and maintain your mental health and wellbeing – tailored to your specific needs and interests.

The following link gives more information about the program and how to register for those who are interested.

Dr Catherine Johnson

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Making Connections to Community through Sound

In what has become somewhat of an annual tradition in Ms NT’s Year 9 English class, local sound engineer Josh Williams came to present on how sound is used to manipulate audience response in film and television. He brought in his equipment, disclosed tricks of the trade and industry, and encouraged students to share their ambitions about future artistic pursuits. The session will be used as a complementary resource when the class engage in their summative analysis on how director Tim Burton utilises musical score in his films. Inclusive Education Teacher Emma Rieger, who attended the session, also provided supporting Sketch Notes for the students to utilise when constructing their response.

Vanessa Narino-Terry
English and Humanities Teacher

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Student Free Day - Friday 4 September

Please note that Friday, 4 September will be a student free day as staff will be engaged in professional development.

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