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MINDFULLY EMBRACING A NEW NORMAL IN OURSELVES & OUR COMMUNITY

The COVID-19 experience will have taught people different things. For most of us, it has shown that we can quickly change our daily routines when guided and supported by the advice of experts. It has inspired us as a community to create new ways of learning and to work together virtually overnight.

However, as restrictions are easing, we're gearing up to welcome our remaining students returning. It is what we do now, what comes that next, that matters in terms of our ability to promote optimism and strengthen our resilience, our students, and as a community.

I would speculate that in this period of remote learning and isolation, some of us slept more, watched more TV, played more games, or engaged more on social media. Some cooked more and ate more, some were more involved with those they live with, found creative ways to exercise and work from home, spent less time in cars and more time in nature, and maybe settled into a slower rhythm of life.

According to Terry Bowles, Associate Professor in Educational & Developmental Psychology from the University of Melbourne, the experience we have been living through has allowed us to take two big ideas into the rest of our lives:

  • As a society, we can listen to expert advice and change remarkably rapidly.
  • As individuals, we can listen to expert help and replace parts of our lives surprisingly quickly, sometimes for good but also sometimes not for good.

These thoughts reflected in the data we have gathered about our students; their behaviours and attitudes, staff observations, parent feedback, and surveying all the students at the Senior Campus.  

All this information has helped us understand their individual and collective experience of remote learning and to devise meaningful responses to identified needs when planning for their return to school, and how we can best support this transition.  

In fact, by recognising the breadth of experiences, attitudes, and actions, we can potentially come out of the COVID-19 experience with a more adaptive mindset. 

This will help us to buffer the shock of new challenges and increase our sense of control over our lives, and allow us to focus on life's opportunities and possibilities directly.
Terry Bowles

As Dr. Arne Rubenstein names it, we are in the integration phase of this "Rites of Passage," and the task now, regardless of our initial reactions to the restored freedoms after isolation, is to curb impulsive thinking of "going back" to normal. Distill the benefits of the experience by carefully developing new positive ways of being & thinking.

Our friends at The Resilience Project, Hugh van Cuylenburg and Martin Heppell also share in this optimism. In our recent Parent Education online presentation with Hugh, he generously shared some personal reflections of gratitude, empathy & mindfulness (GEM) that, to his surprise, would not have been possible, if not for COVID -19. What are yours?

Returning to school will be challenging for some, a relief to others, and somewhat of a brief trial period before our mid-year break. Nevertheless, it is a transitional space again, which will naturally invoke some anxiety level in us all. Be mindful of what is yours and what belongs to your child. Remember, it may take time to subside or prompt the need for further support in managing negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Eventually, a new outlook and new actions will emerge, as demonstrated by our capacity to adapt to date.

The point to remember is not to get stuck but to keep working through, towards what the future may bring, even if only tomorrow, with little steps and little plans bigger things grow. Everyone's circumstance is different, which needs to be respected by practicing gratitude, empathy, and kindness. As a community, we can band together to face challenges and change, whatever that may bring. By identifying and building upon the things that have gone well in this time, we become more adaptable & resilient, capable of mindfully embracing a new normal in ourselves and our community.

In this light, I encourage you to explore the video resources below as a family.

Michael Car-Gregg: Raising Resilient Kids in the CV Era

Yours in kindness and supporting positive student wellbeing,

DONNA NAIRN
Director of Counselling

Further resources & acknowledgements:

The Resilience Project @ home

https://theresilienceproject.com.au/at-home/

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/how-covid-19-could-inspire-us-to-a-better-future

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/embracing-a-new-normal-in-ourselves-and-communities