SenseAbility Victor Harbor High School Story


00:06 Speaker 1: The most important thing my staff, including myself, can instil in any child is a positive self regard. And I believe that we get that positive self regard when others treat us with unconditional positive regard.


00:34 S1: Young people not being pigeon-holed and being able to explore themselves and find out what they stand for. So it doesn't matter where I come from or where I'm going, the school will help me grow into that person that I want to be.


00:54 Speaker 2: Victor Harbor High School is a regional high school. We're about an hour and a half from Adelaide. We have approximately 750 students at the moment. We are a very diverse school. We have some quite poor families and we also have some quite affluent families in the area. So we've got pretty much the whole spectrum.

01:14 Speaker 3: I have taught here for over 30 years and the difference from now to many years ago is the extremes. And the extremes at the bottom end where we're dealing with quite dysfunctional families and kids that have no resilience. But also our top kids that are handling school, sport, community, working part time, in relationships, sometimes serious relationships and handling technology. They also need that resilience.


01:45 S1: We decided to implement sensibility as the previous program we were using in our senior school had reached its shelf life.

01:54 S3: And we were quite excited about the sensibility program because it was more current, more relevant. It featured multimedia and was very well resourced, so we were quite keen once we looked at the quality of the material to take it on.

02:10 Speaker 4: Okay, sense of humour, topic for today.

02:13 S2: I'm acutely aware of how busy staff members are and teachers, so to have something as accessible as sensibility is absolutely fantastic. They can actually literally pick up and go with it. The other equally, if not more important thing, is I just think the philosophy and beliefs and theories behind it are just essential and fit perfectly with what we are trying to achieve as a school.

02:37 S4: You are going to be given a card that describes a type of laugh and then what you have to do is you've got to learn your new laugh style.

02:47 S2: Implementing sensibility in the school was reasonably easy. And I have to say that because of the work that we'd actually done previously. So we'd done all the hard slog around staff understanding why we had to have these programs and to use a bit of a cliché, why everybody is a teacher of well being. So, it was just getting them up to speed. Convincing them that no, we weren't expecting them to do anything extra. And in fact, we were, in many respects, making their lives easier because the program is so accessible.

03:19 Speaker 5: Once teachers learned that the sensibility kit could be targeted specifically to individual needs of their students in their classes, they suddenly realized that in sensibility you've got a really outstandingly flexible, professional, easy to use kit and that's why there's been a very warm embracing of the kit within... Here at Victor Harbor High.

03:40 S3: The program is really well set up and it comes with it's own directory of how you could use it. That didn't fit our school structure and our school setting, so it was really easy to pull it apart and change the way we wanted it to deliver to suit our setting here at Victor Harbor.

03:56 S4: When we started the keeping well module, they were really keen to get into doing some sort of meditation. And as a result, I bought a set of CDs about mindfulness, and so we intersperse that with sensibility. If I read a newspaper article, for example, about bullying, it ties in perfectly with emotional well being and the unit on keeping well. The other thing that's really good about it is the kids love the cartoons and the guy that is on the DVDs.

04:28 S3: It's often met with a little bit of resistance from the students. If we call it we're going to do mentoring, they get "oh mentoring". And then you go in the next day and they go "can we do some more of that relaxation stuff?"

04:39 S1: A sense of humour leads you to a positive self talk, right? Remember we talked about self talk. And if you got a sense of humour, then the rest of the world doesn't look quite so bad.

04:53 Speaker 6: When I first heard about sensibility, I thought it would be kind of weird, like almost kind of boring because I wasn't really sure how it would benefit me, but it has actually been really good. Like we have learnt how to make decisions and how to feel better about ourselves. And yeah, I really like it.

[background noise]

05:11 S1: A lot of the activity is authentic so it relates to kids and their just-in-time issues and problems.

05:19 S?: Then I'm sorry, we're just not working out. You're just not tall.

05:28 S4: You can see that the kids have got more confidence. They can relate better to each other and they seem to laugh more. And they also share their emotions more. They are a very cohesive group now and I think sensibility has attributed to that.

05:42 S5: We do some work about belonging. So today, you are gonna operate in this group and the first thing that I would like you to do is think about an identity for yourselves. So you've got to...

05:53 S5: It has helped me to settle into the school and to get to know these youngsters and talking about feelings and values and the sorts of qualities that we have or we'd like to have and you don't get a chance to do that in maths or science very often.

06:09 Speaker 7: Maybe that little bit goes into it.

06:11 S5: The most powerful part of it, as far as I'm concerned, is the actual reflection, what have we learned, what have we thought, what have we felt when we actually did this activity?

06:20 Speaker 8: Yeah? Pretty good.

06:20 S7: I thought we cooperated well.

06:22 S8: Yeah. A little bit quiet at times...

06:25 S2: I really think that eLearning that is available with sensibility is invaluable. We got all of our stage 1 mentoring teachers to do the eLearning and the skills in there are very definitely not just for kids.


06:41 S3: I have no hesitation in recommending the program. It is also well supported by research in terms of what students need for emotional resilience and across the board through Beyond Blue and the people who have done that work.

06:54 S4: Happier kids is a benefit of sensibility. I conducted a survey at the end of last year and asked them what they thought about sensibility and they all said it was terrific. They really liked it.

07:06 S5: When you open up the sensibility booklets themselves, they're set out in the lesson structures to the point where a lead teacher could walk in and take that lesson quite effectively with very little preparation time. Some of these programs can be really expensive. I think for what you get for the package price you pay, it's incredibly good value for money. I think it's a very good program and I would happily endorse it for any school that wants to pick it up because I've seen the outcomes for some of our students and they've been really excellent.

07:30 S3: Any school who's serious about well being should have that sensibility kit as part of their program of well being in every school. It should be right across this nation.