SenseAbility Altona Story

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00:04 Speaker 1: I think if we are serious about developing our students in our community, we need to think about developing the whole person. We need to provide the skills, so kids can go out into the world and feel successful and be willing to take chances, be willing to take risks, for themselves. When you ask a parent what do you most want for a child, they will say, "I want my child to be happy. I want my child to be able to relate to people."

00:31 S1: When you think about what happens in schools, for many schools, the focus is reading, writing, maths. There needs to be this alignment. The schools need to be the place that teach those traditional schools that gets kids ready for the workplace, but also the skills that they need to function in society. To create greater well being for them, so they can be real members, useful members of society.

00:57 Speaker 2: One in four teenagers experience signs of depression. That's a frightening statistic because that is a fact and that is something we have to deal with as a society to be able to help people through it, and that's where your resilience and all those things come in. It's not saying where your problems lie, but it's in actioning that solution. That becomes the hardest thing. It's easy to say, "Well, I'm struggling in this area," but then to go that step further and go, "What am I gonna do about that?"

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01:26 S1: Altona P-9, in its current form, is a result of a merger between Altona Primary and Altona Secondary. The key philosophy is we want our students to be happy in their learning. We believe that happy children learn, and so we have very strong focus on positive education and on the well being of our students.

01:45 Speaker 3: We value academic results like every other school. However, we understand the need that kids need to understand themselves. Well being is crucial. If you got someone who's battling their own personal demons or that they're struggling with life as such, well then, the academics mean very little. So, we really value taking those skills to kids. We make sure that with this year, we've implemented a new class, a standalone subject called Positive Ed. So sensibility is a program, really, that helps teachers teach it. A lot of the aspects of Positive Ed just fit beautifully with sensibility.

02:16 S?: In this topic, we'll help you understand Cognitive Behavioural Theory, which we'll call CBT for short.

02:23 S1: The essence of Sensibility is that it gives us the tools to put all that we believe into practice.

02:29 S?: To make it easy to grasp and allow you to respond to any questions that may come up in a classroom situation or even socially.

02:37 S2: Frances Totney who introduced us to the program. She gave it a great spiel and stuff of what it was all about. For me, I always get concerned. The only thing you can hang on is just another gimmick program that comes in, goes out, and what is the learning you get from it, for a start. How would it advantage the student in a broader sense? How can it help them, not only in school but in their home life, because those two are so intertwined for them to be able to succeed as a person.

03:01 S2: We did a few sessions of planning on it. I read the book. I was impressed with the way it was put together, how there was topics in there that really would grab what I needed out of this particular group. So that was really good. I liked that. And they gave a good springboard into, you might not necessarily use that exact session with them, but you could actually bring in some other real world examples to get through that same core message and I found that to be really, really good with them.

03:25 Speaker 4: When that particular situation occurred, what are some of the thoughts that went through his mind?

03:31 S2: Well, the core things we looked at was resilience in those kids. Because for me, their resilience was low when they came in. And, without a doubt, without resilience in teenagers, they can't survive in this, the modern world. For having that accessibility, to be able to talk to people and get... Bounce ideas off was incredibly helpful. The reason that it is successful because without support from Beyond Blue and such, then things fall flat because they just become a gimmick that's in one year and out the next. To have that open dialogue about sensibility and through Frances and Beyond Blue, it keeps that ball rolling. It cannot be one of those things that's just taught for an hour and then that's it because it's too valuable for that.

04:09 Speaker 5: Today, we're gonna be looking at some of the thinking traps that we get stuck in when things don't necessarily go our way. So we looked at the day-to-day...

04:18 S2: I think at the start of the year, all teachers were worried about the impact of introducing the sensibility plans and how much extra work that would give us, but the way we treated it was making sure that this is just a standalone subject and go into it as you plan any class, whether it be a Math class or an English class. Plan, deliver, and obviously reflecting review to make sure that you're meeting all the objectives.

04:40 S5: DJ, can you name one thinking, try to get ourselves into maybe at school?

04:44 Speaker 6: Generalising.

04:45 S5: Okay, what's generalising, DJ?

04:47 S6: It's like saying that everything always happens to you, but it really doesn't. It makes you irritated. You get really angry inside.

04:55 S1: We didn't have many obstacles in implementing sensibility. I think the main reason being teachers were already of the understanding that well being is a focal point in our school and it was gonna be pursued. I think they're actually quite appreciative and grateful to have a program or a tool that they could use to deliver. Apart from the administrative-type issues in terms of time-tabling, it was not a difficult process...

05:20 S1: Students have embraced sensibility to different levels depending on what they topic was. Some of our boys, at first, were a little bit hesitant to be talking about their feelings, so to speak. However, when they realised that we weren't gonna be sitting there talking about how we were feeling on this particular day, but more about analysing the way we're thinking and looking at it almost scientifically; this is what we do, this is the way we think, and this then leads to this, they became much more interested and could easily adapt it to their own circumstances in their own lives.

05:53 S?: So now we're going to look a bit more closely on how the way we think about events. It's not just how we feel, but also what we do as a result.

06:02 S6: And everyone was like, feeling down and they're like, "Oh, we're gonna lose". But then in the end we actually ended up winning 'cause we actually became a bit more positive than we were at the start.

06:16 S5: Fantastic. When you take that time to stop, re-frame, the way we think affects the way we feel.

06:23 Speaker 7: My favourite parts of the program is probably getting to, like, know people more. I guess that helps us and the teachers seem more fun in that class.

06:36 Speaker 8: The best part of the sensibility program is the positive thinking they've taught me.

06:41 S7: It makes me more aware of what I'm doing, so it makes me think before I act in situations.

06:48 S5: How many of you are sad at the moment?

06:49 S?: Sad.

06:49 S5: Sad. So we talk about actions. What about the next thing that goes on as part of his day?

06:54 S2: It's good for me as well. Because again, as a teacher, it helped me connect to them as well because that connection is just so important for them to be able to increase in their learning.

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07:06 Speaker 9: My children are really happy here at school. And from a parent's perspective there's nothing more that you want for your children as well as they learning, for them to feel happy and connected and positive when they're at school. And when you see the effects of that at home and outside in the community, it's a really pleasing feeling.

07:29 S2: If you were looking, to introduce a program like this. Obviously we know the rate of depression in this country and with the links with Beyond Blue, it's really important that we get that consistent message across and use the resources that are available.

07:44 S1: Do it. Do it. Our students well being is too important to not be doing something like sensibility. As educators we are in the prime position to be having an impact on the way our next generation choose to think. And the way they relate to each other and to society in general. Schools are the birth place of the possibility of a healthy society.

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